1 March 2010, 18:17

Shabolovka radio tower marks 90th anniversary

Shabolovka radio tower marks 90th anniversary

A radio broadcasting station of 100 kW was put into operation on Shabolovka Street on March 1 st , 1920. It was called "an arc generator of sustained oscillations" by the then newspapers and turned out to be the first large radio tower in Russia, which could compete with the world's leading ones in capacity.

A radio broadcasting station of 100 kW was put into operation on Shabolovka Street on March 1st, 1920. It was called "an arc generator of sustained oscillations" by the then newspapers and turned out to be the first large radio tower in Russia, which could compete with the world's leading ones in capacity. It provided for communication with both Russia's interior regions and European countries.

Initially, the station worked by means of an aerial which was fastened to three 150-meter-high wooden piles, maintained by multilayer steel cable braces. The same year one of the piles was damaged by a mail aircraft and collapsed. It was decided to build a metallic aerial without any cable braces to replace it. Russian engineer Vladimir Shukhov became the author of the tower's original construction.

Shukhov originally planned to build a 350-meter-high tower on Shabolovka Street, which would have exceeded the world-known Eiffel Tower, which emerged in Paris in 1889 due to a World Industrial Exhibition. But given the Civil War in Russia and the lack of metals and money, Shukhov had to alter his project. The height declined to 160 meters and the tower comprised six netlike constructions which were fixed atop each other. On March 19, 1922 the Shukhov radio broadcasting tower for the first time transmitted its recognition signals, which were received on the entire Russian territory, as well as by numerous European radio stations.

The first steps of the Russian television were also connected with the Shukhov tower, where a broadcasting TV antenna was erected in 1937. Next year a Moscow TV broadcast center began its work under the tower and since then, its image became a symbol of Russian television.

Judging by the engineering structure, the Shukhov tower is ranked together with the Eiffel Tower. Direct descendant of the great engineer and his complete namesake Vladimir Shukhov always specifies that thrice less metal was used to build the tower, named after his great-grandfather:

"We look back to Gustave Eiffel, but forget that we did the same, sometimes even better, since we were the first to solve several problems. Shukhov's netlike constructions were used by Antonio Gaudi, although Shukhov is less known than the Spanish architect".

The Shukhov tower was recognized as a masterpiece of Russian architectural avant-garde and part of the world cultural heritage. The great creation by the "Russian Gaudi" hasn't ever closed for renewal, and needs urgent anticorrosive protection at present. 5.5 million dollars were allocated by the government in 2009 for the tower's renovation. Experts are now defining the scope of work to maintain this memorial to Russian engineering art. After the renovation work, the unique construction on Shabolovka Street may become a center of tourist attraction of Moscow, similar to the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

 

Maria Domnitskaya and Boris Gerstein
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