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HSE Opens an Exhibition at Khitrovka on History of the Place

This exhibition has become part of the Open University project and is held on the HSE’s Anti-versary. It covers the history of Khitrovka and its surroundings, and offers a historical view of each object.

Khitrovskaya Ploshad, which hosts the exhibition, is an important part of Moscow for HSE. Several university buildings are situated here, and the best view of the square is available from HSE as well, from the windows of the Faculty of Communications, Media, and Design.

HSE has organized an exhibition that tells visitors about the history of Khitrovka and its surroundings and offers a historical view of each object.

This space, previously occupied with estates, evolved after the 1812 fire. The empty land with burnt buildings was bought at auction by Major General Nikolay Khitrovo. The place was named after him. The philanthropist donated this land to the city and planned to spend his funds to organize a meat and greengrocers’ market there, but never did.

In fact, Khitrovka became an all-purpose space, including seasonal trade and a kind of labour market, where all types of workers were hired. In addition, the mushrooming bunkhouses and inns made the square a gathering point for the low life of the city.

In the early 20th century, Vladimir Gilyarovsky, journalist and writer, brought the directors Konstantin Stanislavsky and Vladimir Nemirovich-Danchenko here for an excursion, alongside the artist Viktor Simov, all of whom were staging Gorky’s play ‘The Lower Depths’. This way they ‘inhaled the slum spirit’, meeting the ‘barefoot intellectuals’, thieves, and other inhabitants of Khitrovka.

HSE occupies a complex of buildings along Khitrovsky Pereulok and part of Maly Tryokhsvyatitelsky. They used to be occupied by the Myasnitskaya constabulary, which (un)surprisingly neighboured the old criminal heart of Moscow. The Myasnitskaya constabulary has detained some renowned arrestees, such as poet Vladimir Mayakovsky, or writer Ilya Erenburg. Doctor Dmitry Kuvshinnikov worked under the auspices of this constabulary, whose spouse became an inspiration for the heroine of Anton Chekov’s story ‘The Grasshopper’.

For many years, Khitrovka was out of bounds for Muscovites due to a lengthy construction project. In the centre of the square, there was a construction pit hidden behind a high fence. However, In 2014, the city decided to organize a garden here, which now hosts exhibition stands. Now, everyone has an opportunity to learn more about the history of Khitrovka.

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