Tomsk — History

Tomsk — History

Tomsk is a city and the administrative center of Tomsk Oblast, Russia, located on the Tom River. One of the oldest towns in Siberia, Tomsk celebrated its 400th anniversary in 2004.

Tomsk was established under a decree from Tsar Boris Godunov in 1604 after Toyan, the Tatar duke of Eushta, asked for the Tsar’s protection against Kirghiz bandits. The Tsar sent 200 Cossacks under the command of Vasily Tyrkov and Gavriil Pisemsky to construct a fortress on the bank of the Tom River, overlooking what would become the city of Tomsk. Toyan ceded the land for the fortress to the Tsar.

In 1804, the government selected Tomsk to become the seat of the new Tomsk Governorate, which would include the modern cities of Novosibirsk, Kemerovo, and Krasnoyarsk, as well as the territories which are now in Eastern Kazakhstan. The new status brought development and the city grew quickly.

The discovery of gold in 1830 brought further development to Tomsk in the 19th century. However, when the Trans-Siberian Railway bypassed the city in favor of the village of Novonikolayevsk (now Novosibirsk), development began to move south to connect with the railway. In time, Novosibirsk would surpass Tomsk in importance.

In the mid-19th century, one fifth of the city’s residents were exiles. However, within a few years, the city would be reinvented as the educational center of Siberia with the establishment of Tomsk State University and Tomsk Polytechnic University. By World War II, every twelfth resident of the city was a student, giving rise to the city’s informal name — Siberian Athens.

After the October Revolution of 1917, the city was a notable center of the White movement, led by Anatoly Pepelyayev and Maria Bochkareva, among others. After the victory of the Red Army, Tomsk was incorporated into West Siberian Krai and later into Novosibirsk Oblast.

As in many Siberian cities, Tomsk became the new home for many factories relocated out of the warzone at the beginning of the World War II. The resulting growth of the city led the Soviet government to establish the new Tomsk Oblast, with Tomsk serving as the administrative center

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