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Entries / River Passages

River Passages

Categories / City Services/Transportation/Sea Transport

RIVER PASSAGES. Ever since the early years of St. Petersburg's existence, river passages were set across the Neva river and its canals to provide communication between the islands, by water means of transport in summer and on the ice in winter. In summer, the crossing was provided by small-size vessels and boats (ferries); by order of Tsar Peter the Great they were to come in the possession of owners of the houses standing by the river. In winter, the water passage was provided by a special crew that closed traffic on the Neva at the beginning of freezeup, who then laid roads on the ice, ensuring safe passage. The ice road was marked with twigs stuck into the snow. In accordance with the established order, St. Petersburgers were informed on the beginning of the time of the passage across the Neva after ice drift and freezeup by the beating drums and three cannon shots. Peter the Great was usually the first to cross the river on ice. Gradually the river passages (or ferriages) were replaced with bridges. In the early 1980s, after a tunnel had been built beneath Morskoy Canal, the last river passage within the limits of St. Petersburg was closed; it used to link Gutuevsky and Kanonersky islands, and served over 2,000,000 people annually.

Peter I, Emperor