Kharkiv and its History
Kharkiv is the second largest city and the capital of Kharkiv region, situated at the confluence of the Lopan, Udy and Kharkiv rivers; the historic capital of Slobidska Ukraine, it is an important industrial, communications, scientific and cultural centre. Kharkiv’s name is most likely derived from the Kharkiv River. The Russian historian N. Aristov believed it was derived from the Cuman settlement of Sharukan, which existed on the territory of the present-day city. According to popular legend, the city is named after a Cossack Kharko. Kharkiv’s vicinity has been settled since the 2nd millennium BC. Bronze Age settlements, Scythian Kurhans (6–3rd centuries BC), and Sarmation relics (2nd–1st centuries BC), have been excavated there. Relics of the Cherniakhiv culture (2nd — 5nd centuries AD) have been unearthed in the city, and the Donets fortitied Slavic settlement of the early Middle Ages has been excavated nearby.
From the 12th to the 17th century the large territory around modern Kharkiv was wild steppe dominated by the Cumans then by Tatars. From the early 17th century the territory belonged formally to Muscovy, which stationed frontier garrisons there and sent out scouts and explorers to reconnoitre and map the region. Later, networks of fortifications against the Crimean Tatars were built by the Cossacks, and non-serf villages (slobody, hence the name Slobidska Ukraine) and more numerous settlements of refugees from the war-turn Hetman state and Right Bank and Western Ukraine sprang up. By the mid 17th century several such settlements existed in Kharkiv vicinity. The generally accepted date of Kharkiv’s founding is 1654 when Cossacks led by I. Karkach built a fortified settlement on the plateau surrounded by the Kharkiv and Lopan rivers. A fortress was completed in 1659.
From the mid 1670’s the influence of Moscovites in the area is growing rapidly. The Moscow government adopted a range of legal acts establishing the strong links between Moscovia (later Russia) and Slobidska Ukraine. Although Cossacks were Formaly under the jurisdiction of a Moscovite military governor, as military frontier-men they were allowed to be self-governing, according to “Cherkessian custom”, with the right of free settlement, enterprise and trade, until the reign of Peter 1st.
For the remainder of the 17th and most of the 18th century Kharkiv remained a defensive outpost; the Russian garrison and merchants lived within the fortress, but most of the Cossack population lived outside in nearby villages and engaged in farming, fishing, beekeeping, barter trade. From 1659 to 1765 Kharkiv was the capital of Kharkiv regiment, one of the largest Cossack administrative and military units in Slobidska Ukraine. In 1660 — 1662 a new citadels, with administrative buildings (a governor’s house) and churches were built.
By the 18th century the outside fortress had expanded beyond the Lopan and Kharkiv rivers. In 1724 the town had 61 streets and 1300 courtyards. In 1732 its male population was 3700, 2500 of whom were Cossacks. The town changed gradually from the military outpost into a trading centre as the borders of the Russian empire shifted southward. Tatars still attached The fortress, however, and devastated the villages. Russia’s wars with Turkey, Sweden, and Poland drained the town of its Cossack population and burdened it economically. Much of the town was destroyed by a fire in 1733, and its population was decimated by plaque in 1738 and 1741. Kharkiv nevertheless revived and grew because of its economically advantageous location, which facilitated its advancement as a cultural centre. During the 18th century Khakiv’s annual fairs attracted increasingly more merchants not only from Kiyiv and Moscow, but also from Europe. The College of Kharkiv was founded in 1734 until the foundation of Kharkiv University in 1805, it was the best educational institution in Slobidska Ukraine. In 1789 two public schools were opened. Under the governors and vicegerents to whom the city administration was subject from 1787, Kharkiv was developed according to imperial standards of urban architecture which were set in St. Petersburg. New government, commercial and private stone buildings were erected.
Kharkiv was also the centre of a military district, with a high concentration of military personnel and their families. With the founding of Kharkiv University and the university press in 1805 through the efforts of Karazyn and Kharkiv’s Ukrainian nobility, the city also became an important educational and publishing center of Ukraine and the Russian Empire as a whole. In 19th century some other educational institutions were established and opened in Kharkiv. Among others, The Institute for the Noble Girls was opened in 1815. By the turn of the 20th century there were 60 societies there, an art school, stock exchange, opera house, music school, museum and public library. A nobles’ assembly, military academy, theatre, duma building and many new commercial and private buildings were constructed. From the 1890s a famous Ukrainian architect
Beketov designed numerous buildings in the modern style. Municipal services, however, were inadequate, and Kharkiv was known as a dirty city. Its streets were impassable in wet weather. Construction of a sewage system was begun only in 1912. Gas lighting was introduced in the 1880s, and electric lighting in 1898 on the city outskirts. The first tramway was laid in 1906. Medical care was also inadequate. There were only tour hospitals in the city in the 19th century.
During the 19th century a lot of people from Russia came to live here. That led to a substantial decrease in a percentage of Ukrainian population within the city. By the end of 19th century only 25% of the residents stated that Ukrainian was their native language. In the middle of 19th century Kharkiv had about 200 primitive manufacturing enterprises with a total about 4500 workers. 2500 of them worked, producing bricks, leather, wool, tobacco, soap, wax, vegetable oil and other goods. But Kharkiv’s industries and commerce expanded rapidly after the emancipation of the peasants and particularly the railway reached the city in 1868. From the 1810s Kharkiv was an important centre of the Ukrainian cultural renaissance. Many of the first Ukrainian linguistic, ethnographic, historical and modern literary works were published there. Key Ukrainian cultural figures lived and worked in Kharkiv: Kvitka-Osnovianenko, P.Hulack-Artemovsky, M. Kostomarov. The Kharkiv Romantic School of poets is well-known all over the world.