Mykolaiv (Ukrainian: Миколаїв Ukrainian pronunciation: [mɪkoˈlɑjiu̯]), also known as Nikolayev (from Russian Николаев), is a city in southern Ukraine, administrative center of the Mykolaiv Oblast. Mykolaiv is the main ship building center of the Black Sea, and, arguably, the whole Eastern Europe.
Mykolaiv’s orderly layout reflects the fact that its development has been well planned from the founding of the city. Its main streets, including the three main East-West Avenues, (including Lenin Prospect shown in the photo to the right) are very wide and tree lined. A significant part of Mykolaiv’s land area is beautiful parks. Park Pobedy (Victory) is a large park on the peninsula just north of the city center of Mykolaiv, on the North side of the Inhul river.
The history of the city has always been closely connected to ship building. The town was founded in 1789 by the Russian Governor General of Novorossiya, Prince Grigory Potemkin, initially as a shipyard called simply a New Shipyard on the Ingul river. Prince Potemkin signed an order to construct a shipyard on August 27, 1789, which is considered to be the city’s birth date. The shipyard was to undertake the repair of naval ships in the Russo-Turkish War (1787–1792). Later Potemkin ordered the shipyard to be named Nikolaev to commemorate the date when Ochakov fell to the Russian troops under his command on December 6, 1788, close to the day of Saint Nicholas (Nikolay) December 19, in the Russian Orthodox Church calendar.
The Russian Empire’s Black Sea Navy Headquarters was in Mykolaiv for more than 100 years until the Russian Navy moved it to Sevastopol, near the Southern tip of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula. During the Crimean War Mykolaiv became the main rear base to support Russia’s efforts in the war. Most businesses that were created in the city belonged to the military industrial complex, and, in this regard, Mykolaiv, was closed to foreign visitors for many decades.
In March 1816, Admiral Aleksey Greig was appointed to the post of Governor of the city. While in that post until 1833, he did much for Mykolaiv. Port facilities were built. A credit society (cooperative) was established, and Mykolaiv increased its seaborne trade. Morskoii (Marine) Boulevard was built in the city, along with sidewalks. In addition, open men’s and women’s colleges were, built, as was a shelter. In 1820, Admiral Greig founded the Marine Astronomical Observatory in Mykolaiv. In 1826, he, for the first time in the history of the Russian Navy, set up the Russian Naval headquarters in Mykolaiv. The headquarters included fleet combat training during peacetime and the development of plans for military operations during wartime.
From 1860 to 1871, the military Governor of Mykolaiv was Bogdan von Glazenap. His highest command in the town was in 1862. He encouraged foreign vessels to call at the commercial port and encouraged foreigners to come to Mykolaiv to live. Therefore foreign governments established foreign consulates in Mykolaiv. This led to the transformation of Mykolaiv into a large commercial port.
By the late 19th century, Mykolaiv’s port ranked third in the Russian Empire, after Saint Petersburg and Odessa, in terms of trade with foreign countries. In addition, grain export suppliers of the steppe region (of Ukraine and Southern Russia) were first in the Russian Empire. Mykolaiv had become a great industrial center in the South of Ukraine.
Mykolaiv was major Jewish centre of Russian Empire in 19th century. In the 19th century, the Czarist governments had largely banned Russian Empire Jews from living East of the Dnieper River. Mykolaiv is in the area west of the Dnieper, which was were Jews were legally allowed to reside (the legal area of Jewish residence was known as the Pale of Settlement). The Lubavitcher Rebbe, Menachem Mendel Schneerson (the seventh leader in the Chabad-Lubavitch dynasty) was born in Mykolaiv on April 18, 1902.
In 1918, Mykolaiv survived its first occupation by foreign troops. In 1920, Soviet power was established there.
With the beginning of World War II Mykolaiv was occupied on August 16, 1941. During the occupation, an underground partisan sabotage group, the Mykolaiv Center conducted guerilla activities. On March 28, 1944 the city was liberated, in part because of Soviet Coronel Olshansky’s paratroopers and their daring raid, during which the majority of his troops were killed.
In the post-war period Mykolaiv became one of shipbuilding centers of the USSR, with three shipyards: Black Sea, 61 Kommunara, and Okean.
Soviet-era apartment blocks in the Namyv neighborhood of Mykolaiv.
In March 2012, Mykolaiv gained international notoriety for lawlessness and police corruption following the rape and murder of Oksana Makar. Her three attackers were apprehended, but two were released because of family connections to local government officials. After a media outcry and public protests, all three attackers were charged with her murder.