In 1859, when passing the shores of Peter the Great Bay, N. N. Muraviov-Amurski, governor-generalof East Siberia, paid special attention to a well-sheltered inlet. He proposedto name it Golden Horn and ordered to found on its shores a military post,which he later renamed Vladivostok.
     The morning of June 20, 1860waswarm, but cloudy. Heavy gray clouds hung over the densely green hillsto precipitate drizzle. Yet, this not very pleasant weather did not affectthe good moodof the Russian sailors standing on deck of the transport“Manchzhur”,unhurriedly entering Golden Horn. People are always curiousin discoveringsomething new, and the officers, sailors and soldiers onboard gazed in curiosityat the quiet cozy inlet, the light sand on thecoast, caressed gently by smallwaves, and at the curly hills with theirbirches, lindens, acacias, maplesand oaks descending almost to the waterline.Mighty cedars and graceful firsshowed through the fog in the forest thicketscloser to the hilltops.
     Lieutenant-Captain Alexei KarlovichShefner, the transport commander, having inspected with a telescope thesceniclandscape to select a little inlet for anchorage at the foothillof the southernslope of the coastal ridge, ordered to lower a boat. Ondisembarking withEnsignN. V. Komarov, Shefner ordered to continue rowingalong the coastlineto choosea site most suitable for landing the fortysoldiers of the thirdcompany ofthe 4th east Siberian battalion that arrivedon the transport.Soon a suitableplace was found, and the soldiers beganto land. The followingentry was madein “Manchzhur’s” logbook about thiseventon June 20, 1860:“Sent to shore this day: one officer, two noncomsand thirty-seven privatesof 4th battalion to take up post.”
     A slight soft wind dispersedtheclouds, and everything under the rays of the bright summer sun beganto lookeven more picturesque. Axes resounded and saws buzzed rhythmically,and nowthe soldiers were already covering the plant-free ground with sand.Whitetents appeared in an hour or two. Having made a flagpole from a treetrunkthe soldiers dug it deep into the ground, and then the Tricolor ofthe RussianEmpire soared high. Dressed in ceremonious line, the soldiersturned theireyes toward the flag. Ensign Komarov saluted the Tricolorwith his sword.The ceremony evidenced that the military post of Vladivostokon the shoresof the Sea of Japan had been established.
     On the next day afterthe landing,and on the days that followed, the sound of axes, saws anddropping treesresounded again: construction was under way. The soldiersand sailors wereerecting a barracks, kitchen, warehouses, bath and officers’quarters.In one month after the first landing, the corvette “Griden” underLieutenant-Captain G. H. Egersheld arrived in Golden Horn inlet. The corvettewas assigned the task of protecting Vladivostok and providing the garrisonwith all necessary supplies. In line with G. H. Egersheld’s instructions,a navigationteam fathomed the inlet, and in accord with measurement resultsobtained byLieutenant P. F. Churkin, the following new names for the firsttime appearedon the map: Vladivostok harbor and post, Golden Horn Inlet, Cape Egersheld,and Cape Churkin.
       By winter, all things required by the post were completed. When frosts set in, the post garrison and the crew of corvette “Griden” were conducting topographical surveysand weather observations. The best sharpshooters hunted game and returned with rich trophies, e.g. roe deer, hares and boars. In addition, the Brockhaus and Efron Encyclopedia reports that during the first year of existenceofpost Vladivostok, tigers had eaten all the dogs brought to Golden HornfromNikolaevsk-on-the Amur.

View on city from Golden Horn inlet in early 20th century

       In the two subsequent years, the post continued to grow. In 1862, it was renamed into a port,and gradually its population increased. On September 27, 1863 the firstcitizen of Vladivostok, a girl, was born. The mother was Evdokiya MatveevnaGorelko, who christened her daughter Nadezhda (Hope).
     In autumn of 1863, a Pacificsquadron under Rear-Admiral A. A. Popov sailed on a friendly visit fromVladivostok to San Francisco. The squadron included the corvettes “Bogatyr”, “Kalevala”, “Rynda” and “Novik”, andthe clippers “Abrek” and “Gaidamak”.The purpose ofthe visit was to demonstrate Russia’s solidarity with thenorthern states of America in their struggle against the slave-owning South.On September27 Popov’s squadron arrived in San Francisco. The city’s population and authorities welcomed the Russian sailors with great enthusiasm. Allthe cities where they appeared flew Russian and American flags, stagedmilitary parades and ceremonial meetings. In June 1864, when the North’svictory over the Confederates was clear and when the threat of Britain’sinterference in the American Civil War (on the side of the South) ceasedto exist, theRussian warships were recalled back home.
      In the fall of 1867, N.M.Przhevalsky, well-known Russian traveler and geographer, visited Vladivostok. This is how he described what he saw on the shores of Golden Horn: “Closer to evening of October 26, I reached Vladivostok, and on the same nighta strong snowstorm began. Vladivostok is extended over 3,500 feet alongthe northern coast of the vast and deep Golden Horn inlet, surrounded onall sides by mountains and therefore highly suitable for anchorage. Apartfrom military barracks, an officers’ annex, a mechanical shop, variouswarehouses for provisions and other supplies, it has about fifty government-ownedand private houses plus two dozen clay-walled cottages. The population,servicemen inclusive, is about five hundred.” Przhevalsky specified whothose people were. According to him, in 1868 the residents of Vladivostokincluded:
       In those years, the city developed relatively slowly. But starting from about 1869-1870, Vladivostok grew more noticeably. Everything increased in geometric progression, asit were. Yet, the authorities still had their doubts whether to establishRussia’s main naval port on the Pacific in Vladivostok, or to select someother place for that purpose, say Olga inlet or Possiet Bay.
   Early 1871 discarded all doubtsto chooseVladivostok.  On February 10, 1871 the Russian government resolvedto transfer from Nikolaevsk-on-the Amur to Vladivostok the port with allits maritime institutions, the militarygovernor’s residence and the mainbase of the Siberian naval flotilla.
      This decision gave a tangible impulse to the city’s development: construction of administrative and residentialbuildings considerably expanded, industrial enterprises beganto appear,and trade went uphill. In 1872, Golden Horn became the port ofregistryfor the following vessels of the Siberian naval flotilla: the clipper“Abrek”,the transports “Manchzhur” and “Yaponets”,the schooners “Vostok”, “Forvater”,“Ermak”,and “Tungus”, the gunboats “Morzh”, “Sobol”,“Gornostai”, and“Nerpa”, the steamships “America”,“Amur” and “Suifun”, and about ten launches,bargesand boats. By 1874, the city’s mainstreet Svetlanskaya (named soinhonor of the Russianfrigate “Svetlana”) had extended along theGoldenHorn coast foralmost4.3 km.  The trading companies “Kunstand Albers”and“Churin & Co.” grew to begin dealingin various commodities.Anew sawmill and five brick factories, a mill, anda beer brewery beganoperating.Again, the harbor began to look much livelier,displaying thecolors of numerouscountries. The Dutch, British, Americans,Japanese andGermans brought to Vladivostokfood, fabrics, and building materials.Thissituation was promoted by the free-port status introduced back in Vladivostok’searly years to permit foreigners duty-free trade.
        Some timelater, a regular cargo-passenger line opened as well. On Marcy 9, 1880,the freighter “Moskva” left Odessa for Vladivostok, and forty-six dayslater safely arrived in Golden Horn Inlet. And several days later a moreimportant event happened: Vladivostok was official endorsed as a city toinclude Muraviov-Amursky Peninsula and Russki Island. At that time, itnumbered 7,300 inhabitants.
      Then event followed event: in April 1883, the first edition of the newspaper “Vladivostok” made itsinitial appearance; and a mechanical works, another brick factory and asteam mill were commissioned.  Axes and saws resounded in bothwinterand summer, and the doomed trees fell one after another. Already bythemid-eighties of the last century, the forest had been felled over a distanceof five kilometers from the city. In 1893, rail communication began betweenVladivostok and Nikolosk (Ussuriisk), and in 1897 trains started to runtillKhabarovsk.

First streetcar in Svetlanskaya Street in 1912
      In the 1890s, Vladivostok’s status as Russia’s main naval base on the Pacific continued to consolidate. The navy now included not only sailboats, but also powerful steam battleships. In July 1894, when the Sino-Japanese war broke out, the Russian Pacificsquadron based in Vladivostok included first-class cruisers “Admiral Nakhimov”, “Admiral Kornilov” and “Rynda”, second-class cruisers “Razboinik”, “Kreiser”and “Zabiyaka”, gunboats “Manchzhur”, “Bobr”, “Sivuch” and “Koreets”, destroyers“Sungari”, “Ussuri”, “Yanchihe” and “Suchena”, torpedo boats Nos. 77,79and 80.  And the following year of 1895 the Pacific squadron was strengthened by the battleship “Emperor Nicholas I”, the first-class cruisers “PamiatjAzova” and “Vladimir Monomakh”, the torpedo boats “Gremiashchii” and “Otvazhnyi”,the torpedocruisers “Vsadnik” and “Gaidamak”, and the destroyers“Sveaborg”,“Revel” and “Borga”.
     In thirty-five years, the small naval post of Vladivostok had turned into Russia’s major port and naval base in the Far East. But Vladivostok, like all of
Russia, was facing the looming tragedy of the Russo-Japanese War.

On photographs and in figures: sail-propeller transport “Manchzhur” (drawing by Botanets); A. K. Shefner, commander of transport“Manchzhur”and subsequently commander of Vladivostok port (drawing by V.Chebotarev); view on city from Golden Horn inlet in early 20th century;one of the first photographs of Vladivostok, 1874; Goden Horn inlet in1890s; first streetcar in Svetlanskaya Street in 1895.

A.V. BORODIN, Leading Editor, Institute of History,Archeologyand Ethnography of the Peoples of the Far East, Far East Branch,RussianAcademy of Sciences, Colonel (Retired), Pacific Fleet veteran.

Tel. (7-4232) 26-11-15 (Office)
Tel. (7-4232) 46-26-42 (Home)

Regional  Portal "Russia's Maritime Province"