History of GUM

Not every enterprise has such a long and rich history, as Upper Trading Rows, the present GUM. Just several trading passages of Russia have right to be proud of the fact that they were created over a century ago and successfully operate till nowadays. GUM always was and remains the greatest country’s store.

The building’s planning represents three lengthway three-floor passages with deep basements. The glass roof designed by the engineer V. Shukhov imparts uniqueness to the building’s architecture. Glass, semi-circular formed, 14 meters diameter, easy and open-work looking like — the roof represents a solid construction, that took over fifty thousand poods of metal (approx. 200 thousand pounds).

Stretching on a quarter of a kilometer along the Kremlin’s wall, the GUM’s building encloses the Red Square from the East with its facades’ architecture (decorated with facet rustics), and calls up with Kremlin and the Historical museum.


Among the Russian trading institutions at the end of the XIX century, the Upper trading rows played a great role. This huge trading passage or mall was responsible for the country’s economic life. Passage (from French — aisle, passageway) in the architecture is a type of trading or business building, where shops or offices are tier located at the sides of the broad aisle with glassy surfaces. The trading malls allocation in the heart of Moscow, in the ancient center of Russian trade, predestined its rich history.

Moscow plans, act materials, (deed of purchase, actions at law, etc.), archeological monuments confirm that yet in the XVII century almost all retail and whole sale of Moscow was concentrated in the trading rows on the Red Square. That place, where GUM is situated now, as well as the Vetoshny lane and the opposite houses rows — were brisk city’s trading center for longtime.

The upper trading rows, overcrowded with people and carts, had more or less respectable view, if seeing it from far, not staring attentively, and just from the Red Square side.

There, from Nikolskaya to Ilyinka streets, a two — storey building occupied a whole quarter, resembling a bit the architecture of the survived Gostiny Dvor, which appeared much later: two central turrets, eight columns, large rectangular windows of the ground floor, semicircular second-floor windows, just opposite the monument to Minin and Pozharsky, that time standing at the middle of the square.

Stone building closed view on a host of small wooden shops that always were on fire. The fires have occurred several times a year, especially often in winters — because of the heaters that the salesmen unsteady to frost used for heating. But the biggest fire, in 1812, in the days of the French invasion, has passed by the trading rows.

In 1815, a new building of the Upper trading rows following the project of the architect O. I. Bovet was raised. Occupying an entire block, the construction was divided between the private owners. No one could persuade them to realize the major repairs. The building came to ruin before eyes. Once a layer of plaster fell on the buyers, but another time, a lady, trying on a velvet dress that suited her very well, failed through the rotten floor, broke her leg and so was taken to the hospital in the unpaid new dress. The owner was afraid to remind her about it, at the meantime being happy that she didn’t recover for her loss. However, in the second half of the XIX century, when the plentiful growth of industry and commerce in started Russia, trading rows no longer met the requirements of the time, scope and modern forms of trade.

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Following the proposal of the Moscow Governor-General, Duma raised the matter on the demolition of the old Upper trading rows and the construction of the new ones in 1869. That day launched the scandals. Almost all owners have objected, as their generic rights were violated. Even their fathers and grandfathers possessed those patches that were the most profitable trading areas. For small traders the forced downtime during a long-time construction meant just bankruptcy. The owners united for fighting. They created a “Commission” and put conditions, knowing in advance that those ones were unfeasible.

Of course Duma didn’t agree, the dispute delayed, traders grew hard, some people even had stroke because of chagrin. In 1880 City Duma, with the support of the Governor-General, committed the shop owners to create a joint stock company “Upper trading rows”. Small traders continued to delay the decision fulfillment, however they finally understood that they are doomed to cede.

In 1886 at the general meeting of the Upper trading rows shop owners, on the Mayor N.A Alexeyev’s initiative, a committee was set up, which was tasked to prepare a charter and proposals for rows reconstruction. Even tsar personally approved the Charter, so began the detailed investigation of the rights for the land. On the 30th of August, 1888, after two-thirds of shop owners have handed in the applications on their joining the Company, the official opening of the Company took place. Shareholders elected council and the administration of the Company. The Company’s stock capital amounted to 9408400 rubles. This amount had issued the nominal shares rating 100 rubles.

On the 15th of November, 1888 the Company’s administration announced all-Russian competition for the best building draft of the Upper Trading Rows. This day was a great event in Moscow — the shops were all broken. On the 21st of February, 1889 contest commission began to consider the competitive projects. Twenty three projects were submitted in the Historic Museum halls. A. Pomerantsev was awarded the first prize. His project basic advantages were rationality and efficiency both mostly corresponding to the conditions of competition, meeting artistic and town-planning requirements. According to the A. Pomerantsev’s intention, the building of the main area of Upper trading rows presented three passages connecting the streets Nikoliskaya and Ilyinka, crossed at direct angles by the three transverse passages. The upper rows consisted of two buildings. The main building every Moscower knows — it is nowadays GUM. Behind it, in the disorderly Vetoshny row, the Vetoshny thoroughfare was formed, and in the former Teplykh rows another smaller building was built. It stands till nowadays and fronts with its side the Ilyinka street. The project followed a successive link with the layout of once existed trade rows. At the same time with the Upper trading rows, the Middle trading rows in the same style were built neighboring it, according the architect R. Klein project.

Preparations for rows construction was started in the summer 1889. On the 21st of May, 1890 the laying of the building took place.

On the official ceremony the representatives of the Superior Moscow administration and the city self-government were present. In 1890 −1891 the foundation and walls of the Upper trading rows were raised. In 1893 lining and interior trimming were finished. Great Upper trading rows with its two buildings, a whole underground street under the House, with central heating and own electric station were built in two and a half years.

On the 2nd of December, 1893 the grand opening of trading upper rows took place. On the occasion of the famous event a public prayer was served. The present Great Duke Sergey Alexandrovich and Great Duchess Elizaveta Petrovna, as well as other distinguished guests, examined the rows, expressing pleasure for the construction of this graceful and refined capital’s building. In summer 1894 the Upper trading rows became the most popular walking. Entire families came, examined the lines under the glass roof.

The entire trading area was divided between the traders, but those were no longer shops, but the salons. They struck with beautiful furniture, plenty of mirrors and rich trimming. In 322 store departments, located on all three floors, almost all groups of industrial goods and partly food products were in sale. Basement was used for wholesale trading. Areas in the Upper trading rows were rented to the most famous firms.

Huge retail and wholesale stores of trading with silk and brocaded fabrics in the Upper trading rows belonged to the company of brothers Sapozhnikov. There was a watch shop of the M. Kalashnikov trading house, founded in 1832 in the central stall. Factory-commercial partnership A. Abrikosov and S-ya offered a wide assortment of confectionery products, such as from marmalade and pastila to glazed fruits. In 1882 the company was favored a right to place the national emblem on the packaging for the high quality of own production. Own shops in the Upper trading rows had “Partnership of Prokhorovskaya Trehgornaya manufactory”, “Partnership of Emil Tsindel”, “Zhirardovskaya manufactory”, whose products were in great demand in Russia and abroad.

To attract more customers, the trading mall offered additional services. So branch of the International Moscow Bank, engraving and jewelry ateliers, hairdressing saloon, dental health office, post office were opened. In 1895 a restaurant was opened.

In the upper trading rows for the first time the price lists were used. In small shops seller declared the price to buyer by himself, and often that price was not fixed. In other words, people couldn’t bargain there, doing that for many centuries was one of our favorite folk amusements. In the upper trading rows the rule of all department stores in the world dominated — “The customer is always right.” And namely that was the place where the first Russian book of complaints and suggestions appeared.

The rows became the prototype of the modern European trading centers, where people not only trade, but also organize exhibitions, concerts. In May 1891 G. Brokar, being an owner of a rich collection of paintings, rare books and antiques, started exhibiting it in a specially rented halls of the upper trading rows. Since 1985 musical evenings had been held in the rows.

People came to the upper trading rows not only for shopping. They walked there, spent time watching goods, rested, and had fun. They could sit in a restaurant, cafe, write and send a letter or telegram at the local post office, talk on the phone, resolve financial matters in the bank department, buy tickets to any Moscow theater, have a rest in the lounge. The buyers were proposed translators, porters, luggage office, information desk, and wardrobe. The rows organized concerts for visitors, where famous people were invited.

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(OCTOBER 1917 — 1920)

October 1917 was crucial not only for the country’s life, but for the upper trading rows too, which, as well as the other trading enterprises were nationalized. They have repeatedly been attacked by the “revolutionary society”. They considered it merchant mansion, trading house. “Each according to his need — it can be realized without shops.” And the trading rows were either closed, or under the patronage of V.I. Lenin these were rendered some attention remained just in written form, at the level of Lenin’s resolutions.

If during the twenty six years in the Upper trading rows the trade was continuously held, and it should be noted that it was quite successful and prospered, so after the nationalization of the enterprise the trade started to dwindle. At the beginning of 1918, the trade completely dried up. Shortly after the events of autumn 1917 all owners of collective goods and premises were picked out. In 1918, the upper trading rows the Soviet institutions appeared. The upper trading rows started to live a monotonous life of the public institutions. There was no “spirit of commerce here”. All rooms then had desks and telephones, in the former shops have officials began to work, and guide the goods and food stocking up for the entire growing poor country. When there are no goods and products, stores seem so useless ... It was cold in the former store, the light dimmed — the electric power station in the basement was flooded with water.

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In the twenties the self-sufficiency appears at the state enterprises Russia — a gradual transition from enterprises to self-repayment, self-financing and self-government. Companies could, at its discretion, manage a part of own products. Corporations, partnerships or individuals rented many enterprises. The new economic policy beneficially influenced the whole country’s economic life, including the trading activity of upper rows. In 1921, unexpectedly the trade returns here. That time, the building on the Red Square again is trading, however, not for long: so appeared GUM state universal store. It not much reminded of recent local splendor of marble and light, basically, the stationery was sold here the fact that fully corresponded to the period’s spirit. Since then, many cities had their own GUMs.

History of GUM


In the thirties the new homeless organizations started to force out the state trade in GUM, to rebuild premises, to adapt it as office, industrial premises. As it was mentioned above, even a printing house of Soviet popular committee of USSR was inside. It delayed there as nothing before and till 1995 it occupied a premise. Resolution adopted in 1935 on the General reconstruction of Moscow plan by Soviet popular committee of USSR and Central Committee of C.P.S.U.(B.) was a definitive event in GUM’s destiny. The Square supposed to be twice enlarged. As the GUM’s building impeded the Square enlargement, the trading mall was intended to demolish. Paving block covering supposed to be changed on huge squares of red ground. But this project has been fortunately held up.

History of GUM


During the Great Patriotic War some government institutions continued to occupy the GUM premises. However in June 1941 the evacuation of Moscow’s population, enterprises and institutions began, GUM continued living its life. In November 1941, neighboring GUM, on the Red Square, a traditional parade of Red Army, devoted to the 24th anniversary of the October revolution took place. And in 1943, there was the first victory salute on the Red Square, in honor of the liberation of some Soviet cities. On the 9th of May, 1945, out of the GUM’s building, the announcer of the All-Union Radio Yu.B. Levitan communicated in the broadcast the long waited message on the unconditional surrender of the Fascist Germany.

History of GUM


At the end of forties the country healed its wounds inflicted by the war, restored cities, factories, roads. It seemed that it was not the proper time for reconstruction of the Red Square, not for GUM. And in 1947, the Chairman of the Committee on Architecture G. A. Simonov invited B. M. Iofan, S. D. Merkurov, A. G. Mordvinov, V. I. Mukhina, B. R. Rubanenko, D. N. Chechulin, A. V. Schusev and other architects and sculptors.

On behalf of the Government, they were offered to discuss the issue of placing the monument in honor of the Victory in the Great Patriotic War on Red Square. GUM was construction, impeding the Red Square. Many people many times proposed to get rid of GUM, but all the ways were expensive and complex. Others proposed to make the podiums, which would cover the trading mall, or to make a wall, behind which GUM would work. In front of that wall a monument would stand. There was no need so to fracture something, no need to get rid of GUM. Also they proposed to place a monument in front of the historic museum, but it could be done, according to architect Shchusev, if the facade of the Historical Museum was rebuilt. And many other proposals were put forward, and some of those projects could be implemented in life, but something prevented it. And GUM continued its existence.

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Few months after the Stalin’s funeral, Government decided to evict all institutions from GUM and to resume trade there. The year 1953 is considered the second store’s birth.

First of all, the old building required to be reconstructed. Uncomfortable walls separated small trading sections should be combined into bright and spacious premises.

The fulfilment of this responsible task was entrusted to a large army of architects, painters, masons, plasterer, carpenters, joiners, marble masters, electricians, metalworker, decorators, etc. More than 200 Moscow and other cities enterprises sent to the GUM building materials, trading equipment, machinery, tools.

Former GUM’s chief administrator Seraphima Pavlovna Khrunova told that in the mezzanines of the second and third floors, third line, still people continued to live, but GUM worked in its full force. “All around were scaffolds, dirt, dust, rubbish, instead of trading hall were offices with broken partitions”.

“At daytime we removed rubbish, at nighttime we received goods” — was one of many impressions of the employees, working in GUM in October 1953. There was a map in the director’s office where points were marked from where the goods are delivered to GUM.

In 1953, after the reconstruction, here the country’s largest department store was reopened. Filled in with goods for the opening, it collected huge queues regulated by the police. People in queues were named in jest “humanists”.

The structure of the trading hall in the department store presented 11 trading divisions: textiles, ready-made clothes, shoes, knitted and linen goods, kitchenware, household goods, furniture and rugs, furs and headwear, stationery and toys, recreational goods. The range of the presented goods in the trading hall counted over 30 thousand names.

GUM was instructed to open branches only with specialized assortment. In 1956, in the Gorky Street (now Tverskaya), the shop “Podarki” opened wide its doors. Further, the number of branches has gradually increased. So, in 1962, the shop “Russian souvenir” joined GUM.

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In the mid sixties there were inflationary processes in the Soviet economy, the emergence of new deficits, growth of the unfinished construction, mass production of non-marketed articles — all of what confirmed the growing crisis events in the country’s economy. Mastering the West Siberian sources of petroleum allowed organizing its significant export abroad. Petrodollars delayed the emergence of negative phenomena of economic reform reduction. Despite the ups and downs in country’s economic life, GUM continued living its life — opened new branches.

At the Brezhnev governing times there was an order “To remove GUM! There is no place for trading area, near the national sanctuaries — Mausoleum and the Kremlin” — people say these were the words of the gray cardinal of country and party. And was it all. GUM could once again be doomed to be unbricked, but an anecdotic case saved it. A wife of a higher party chief had an interest to GUM: availed of the local atelier services. She arrived in GUM on the fitting, where she was told: well, the atelier is one step from liquidation, so as GUM is. The lady was disquiet. And so she told something to her husband. The next meeting he naively asked: “Someone, I heard, decided to close the GUM?”. The next day someone phoned in the country’s Ministry of trade"and said not to execute the previously issued decision of the correspondent number, labeled“top secret.

Soon GUM started to join to itself “Leipzig” shop in 1965, “Crystal” shop in 1968, “Simferopol” and “Krasnodar” shops in 1978, “Prague” store in 1981, “Molodiojniy” store in 1982, “Belgrade” store in 1988.

In the seventies GUM becomes the biggest trading center of the ex-Soviet Union and enters the world greatest stores group.

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At the end of the eighties the perestroika was observed not only in the country, but in GUM’s structure too.

The main building’s reconstruction was completed in 1985, and in 1987 all national shops in the city were joined to the GUM, as well as the “Eliseevskiy” gastronome.

GUM’s reorganization to the Joint Stock Company “Trading House GUM” took place in December, 1990. It was deeply symbolically and naturally that originally GUM had been founded as the company of merchants and shareholders and since 100 years GUM came back to its initial activity form.

In 1993 one hundred years passed since the greatest retail trade enterprise was founded, now named JSC “Trading House GUM”. On the 29th of May the Red Square gathered, maybe for the first time, not the participants of politic manifestations and military parades, but business people, science and culture representatives, simple GUM’s friends.

The unusual trading show lasted a whole week. In the main GUM’s building salons of souvenirs sale and popular homecraft goods were opened with anniversary symbolics. Here the trade exhibitions of different suppliers were organized. The “Gjel” salon with unique authorship works was also opened. A “merchant’s shop” was also opened where dolls were sold in the provincial dress of pre-revolutionary Russia. Here one could find birch elm round boxes, bast shoes, samovars, painted shawls, balalaikas, etc.

In 1993 the GUM was allowed to open the central door that was closed for so long. The entrance in the store was again from the Red Square side.

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Not stopping at the state-of-the-art, GUM goes on developing. Today the universal trading and entertaining complex is forming on the place of the post soviet trade image. The complex can join progressive modernity and glorious history. GUM is not a shop for rich or poor. It is a store for people ready to live in the developing consumption society with “human face”.

Here the inside space is improved. The legendary Demonstration Hall is restored that left its traces in the history of the national cinematography. Different cultural events and high society meetings are organized in the original interior. At the GUM’s playbill one can see artistic displays and presentations. The outside facade has a unique illumination project: architectural building’s elements are emphasized with electric lamps lines. The project of the updated design supposes passages reorganization in a palazzo style: mosaic floor and green natural plants. GUM today is not just a leisure center or a store, it is an art space.

Since 2006 and every year further the GUM-Skating rink becomes a good tradition that at once gains fame of the most stylish, bright icing ground in the capital. Without a false pathos one can say that going skating here is always a holiday, because of the predominated ambience. It is so pleasantly to become aware of the fact that on the Square that always have been a political center now everyone can just go skating, have a rest with family or friends. GUM-Skating rink became a cultural ice ground for Moscow, where famous figure skaters many times appeared. In 2006 a legendary hockey match between the USSR stars and World stars, devoted to the 60 years of the national Hockey took place here.

The Gastronome № 1 working on the third line, ground floor can be considered reflection of one of the GUM’s life periods or a style guide of the Soviet glamour. The Gastronome № 1 takes us back to the fifties or sixties and in the meanwhile it meets gastronomic caprices of the most exigent consumer with its appointments, personnel clothing, and with the availability in assortment of some classic goods of the Soviet epoch (for example “Three elephants” tea).

The Café “Festivalnoe” and “Stolovaya № 57” are realized in the same Soviet style. The Cafe is named in honor of the youth and students festival that took place in Moscow in 1957 and gathered 34000 people from 131 countries. Various images, slogans in different languages on the walls remind that event. Of course “Festivalnoe” offers menu with different countries dishes.

“Stolovaya № 57” is a classic line of self-service, external marks of public catering of Khrushchev thaw period, excellent Russian and European cuisine, rich choice of dishes, cold drinks and spirits.

The fountain in the GUM’s center again rejoices visitors. It is a legendary construction, captured in the official chronicle of the XX century in the Moscowers’ and capital guests’ personal photo albums. The fountain is almost a coeval with the Upper Trading Rows both presenting unique architectural constructions. It is one of the favorite meeting and dates places of Moscowers and capital guests.

GUM is not just a simple store where it is possible to buy everything. It is a whole trading block where there is a drug store, bank’s branch, flowers shop, etc. It is an artistic gallery and a place to organize cultural, political events, exhibitions, etc. It is the integral part of the Russian history.

GUM — main universal country’s store!


History of GUM History of GUM History of GUM History of GUM History of GUM History of GUM History of GUM
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