The town of Dzerzhinsk was founded in 1930. It was built as the model city of the won socialism. From the very beginning Dzerzhinsk had a status of a secret city because some military enterprises were situated here. That’s why a large number of people in Soviet Union and modern Russia had never heard about Dzerzhinsk inspite of its importance. For example, at the end of the 20th century the population of Dzerzhinsk was about 300 thousand people, it was nearly the same as in such famous cities as Vologda, Kostroma, Taganrog, Angarsk and Komsomolsk-na-Amure. Though the population of the city was reduced by 20% to its 85th anniversary, Dzerzhinsk is still twice bigger than Sergiev Posad, Murom, Domodedovo and Derbent. The end of the 20th century was full of hardships for the town, but Dzerzhinsk overcame all the difficulties. We are sure all the best for our town is ahead!
Dzerzhinsk is the second largest town in Nizhegorodsky region. It is a satellite town which is connected with Nizhny Novgorod by thousands of links. These links go back to the remote past because Dzerzhinsk was founded on the ancient land which was known as Chernorechje.
Chernorechje got its name from the forest small river Chernaya, which flowed into the river Oka. In the 19th century Chernorechje was called “Nizhegorodskaya Yalta”. The beauty of the Oka, the picturesque right bank of the river covered with deep forests, pine woods and oak groves, water meadows, lots of mushrooms and berries, excellent fishing and hunting – all that attracted travellers from noisy Moscow, Nizhny Novgorod and even St. Petersburgh. Merchants and manufacturers from the Urals and Siberia stayed here while travelling to the west and back. Vacationers lived in Rastyapino, Zhelnino, Babushkino, Krasnaya Gorka and Vyselki of the village Chernoe. Some of them built their own mansions, bought or rented the houses. Wealthy vacationers arranged music and drama evenings in which famous actors from Nizhny Novgorod, Vladimir and other cities took part. Money gained from those concerts were spent on charity. The vacationers spent their time walking in the fields, forests and oak groves, going to Perelivy or Zajchikha, fishing in Zatvor and Kamenny Klyuch, travelling to neighbouring lakes, going to the right bank of the river to Dudin monastery or village Olenino. Youth, students and senior high school students were fond of French wrestling, and they arranged open tournaments in the water meadows.
Not only rich but also progressive people of those times came to Chernorechje to have a rest. The famous Russian writer V.G. Korolenko rented a summer residence in Rastyapino. He came here every summer from 1886 till 1896 and left a good memory about himself. Korolenko liked these places very much, he often walked with the children in the surroundings or went with them to the right bank of the river to nearby villages. One of his essays “Humble” is devoted to the life in Chernorechje. The period spent by Korolenko in Chernorechje became the most fruitful in his work.
Vyselki of the village Chernoe is closely connected with the name of the distinguished scientist, the inventor of the radio A. S. Popov. His family lived here in the period from 1889-го till 1898. This famous vacationer spent his weekends fishing on the bank of the river Oka. His friends often joked that it was his only “unscientific” hobby.
The famous writer A.M. Gorky rested in the pine wood not far from Gorbatovka together with his family. Aleksej Maksimovitch worked on his play “Vacationers” (Dachniki) here. He rewrote his play for several times. But the pine wood, the theatre stage among the trees, summer residences and vacationers remained unchanged…
In 1908 Vyselki of the village Chernoe was renamed into Rastyapino, and the village Rastyapino was called “Old” or “Remote Rastyapino” – nowadays it is one of the villages of Dzerzhinsk – village “Dachny”.
The industry in Rastyapino began to develop with the building of the railway Moscow-Nizhny Novgorod. The deposits of gypsum (alabaster) were discovered on the right bank of the Oka opposite Rastyapino. In 1872 a small plant by roasting and grinding alabaster was built on the bank of the Oka, by 1890 there were nine such plants in Chernorechje.
At the end of the 19th century navigation was rapidly developing in Russia. It caused the increased demand on ropes. Thus rope factory appeared in Rastyapino in 1875. It was equipped by the steam engine of 20 horsepower, the steam boiler, 3 winding machines and 5 machines for unwinding the yarn. 75 people worked at a factory.
The large factory on weaving nets was opened in Reshetikha. By 1895 there were two flour-grinding plants with steam engines in Sejma.
Soon Chernorechje with its summer residences and small plants was replaced by chemical industry, in 1915 the construction of the plant of mineral acid was started in Rastyapino, in 1916 the construction of another big chemical plant evacuated from the Baltic states began.
The Soviet power was established in Rastyapino without armed struggle, and in 1919 the construction of the plant of superphosphates began. In 1923 the reconstruction of the sulfuric acid plant was finished, in 1925 the construction of the nitrogen plant and the plant of synthetic ammonia was started.
The industrial community grew bigger. In 1929 it was renamed in Dzerzhinsk, and on the 30th of March 1930 the industrial community Dzerzhinsk of Nizhegorodsky region was transformed into the town by the decision of the CEC of the USSR. This date is considered to be the official date of birth of our town.
The new town appeared, but the pace of its construction, especially at the beginning of the 1930s, lagged greatly behind the pace of construction of new plants. By the end of the 1930s none of the planned objects was completed up to the end except for the fire-station. Emergency measures were instituted to improve the situation such as a ten-hour working day, toughening of disciplinary responsibility and financial incentive of those who worked better. In 1933 the first tram-line was opened, buses started their work, objects of social purpose were being constructed. Inspite of great hardships and exaggerations of the first five-year plans, by the end of the 1930s Dzerzhinsk became one of the largest centres of chemical industry in the USSR. The population of the town was 100 thousand people, there were ten large chemical enterprises.
The town of Dzerzhinsk was only eleven years old when The Great Patriotic War began. The 1921th anti-aircraft regiment was responsible for air defense of Dzerzhinsk during the war. But the town escaped bombing – it seemed as if the Germans didn’t notice the town at all. There were rumours that the owners of large chemical plants in Germany asked Hitler to keep safe Dzerzhinsky chemical complex so that they could use it after the victory in the war with the USSR.
In 1941 the production of the unique products began. Self-inflammable liquid “KS” was very effective in fighting against enemy tanks. It was produced only in our town and nowhere else in the USSR. Chernorechensky chemical plant was the only one in our country that produced the black cyanide and red phosphorus. Half (!) of all explosives were produced in Dzerzhinsk at the plant named after Ya. M. Sverdlov.
A new technology was worked out and the production of the top secret product – plexiglass – was organized at the plant “Orgsteklo”. “Transparent armour” was used for the equipment of the cockpits of attack planes, first of all of the planes of Victory “IL-2”, which amazed everyone by their vitality.
The price of victory over fascism was very high, the citizens of Dzerzhinsk made a great contribution to the victory – more than 28 thousand of people were awarded battle orders and medals.
The pace of industrial and housing construction was amazing during the next fifteen after war years, people were building a “garden city”. The building up of the central part of the city, today it is called “the old town”, is characterised by its architectural originality. The method Cour d'honneur was used in planning central avenues and streets. It means that the central part of the house goes inward from the line of the street, but both wings of the house remain on the line of the street. A decorative square with a fountain and a round pool in the centre is situated in the formed space - Cour d'honneur. As a rule the central part of the house is a five-storeyed building, and its wings are three-storeyed houses. These ensembles make the historical part of the town original and unique. These ensembles can be seen in Chkalov, Lenin and Klyukvina streets. The houses with bow windows in Gastello street are not less surprising for the young industrial town. The elements of classicism are used in the architectural design of lots of houses in the historical centre of the town. The Palace of Culture of Chemists, several houses in Dzerzhinsky square, in Lenin and Chkalov avenues are decorated with columns of Corinthian order. Nowadays all these buildings are referred to the monuments of culture by the decision of the Legislative Assembly of Nizhegorodsky region and protected by the state.