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Peter the Great founded the city in 1723 as a factory-fort and steel manufacturing town and named it after St. Catherine in indirect honor of his wife, Catherine. Peter the Great planned the city as a push to exploit the Ural regions mineral riches. The discovery of gold in 1745 and veins of other precious metals and stones in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries made the area a center of Russian mining and stone exploitation.

The factory mainly produced iron, cast iron and copper. However, the factory didnt work very actively, and in 1808 it was closed. In 1726 the town started production of copper coins, covering 80% of Russias needs. The town developed as the centre of the mining industry of the Urals and Siberia. In 1738 a rock-cutting works was founded in the town, and in 1765 it grew into Yekaterinburg lapidary factory, which vases and bowls served as decoration in the Winter Palace.

In 1781 the town got more important administrative status and acquired its own coat-of-arms in 1783. Being the centre of industries, Yekaterinburg produced water wheels and turbines, steam engines and metal-cutting equipment. Local merchants mainly dealt with fats, soap and leather, traded meat and cattle and transported metals.

Since twenties of the 19th century the richest local merchants started working of placer gold in Western Siberia. Lucky ones got over 1500 kilograms of this precious metal for first five years. After serfdom was abolished in 1861, mining industry of the Urals fell into serious recession. At that time mining activities were slowly replaced with other types of industry transport, flour-milling industry and service industries. In 1872 Siberian trade bank was opened, and became one of the largest Russian banks early in the 20th century.

In 1878 first railway of the Urals connected Yekaterinburg with Perm, in other words, factories of the Middle Urals with the main city of the region. Later Yekaterinburg became a large railway junction. The population grew, and railways connected Yekaterinburg with the rest of the world all this promoted development of flour-milling industry. In 1887 Science and Production Exhibition of Siberia and the Urals was the factor that boosted economic and social life of the city. In 1904 Yekaterinburg hosted 49 large industrial enterprises and 300 small workshops.

In 1917 Soviet regime peacefully came to power in the city. The city witnessed the death of monarchy in Russia, where the last Russian Tsar Nicholas II with his family was assassinated in the Ipatiev house by the Bolsheviks in July 16, 1918. Recent diggings of archeologists revealed bones, which presumably belonged to the tsar family, and later genetic analysis confirmed this fact. Civil war didnt bring drastic changes into the industrial orientation of the city. In 1924 the city was renamed Sverdlovsk in honour of Yakov Sverdlov, eminent communist.

In the thirties of the 20th century industrial infrastructure of the city was reconstructed, and new large enterprises were built, famous UralMash, for instance. Public transport, new power station, sewerage and water lines, multi-storeyed houses, schools and higher educational institutions, theatre and philharmonic hall, circus and zoo all this made life of local dwellers better and fuller.

During World War II, the city's position behind the front lines of enemy advance allowed it to become a leading producer of war material and an evacuation center for the civilian population of Western Russia. Yekaterinburg's rich mix of cultural offerings is a legacy of the wartime evacuation of the artistic elite to this region. After the war, the city kept focusing on building machines and metal working, however, more consumer-oriented enterprises appeared. The Soviet Union closed the city to foreigners throughout much of the post-war period and it was only reopened in December 1991. This was also the year when Yekaterinburg took back its original name. Today Yekaterinburg's foreign contacts and foreign population are growing rapidly as American, European and Asian businesses and tourist flows to the Urals region are gradually increasing. Its a rather interesting place to visit especially to geologists and industrial archeologists.

In December 1991 Sverdlovsk got his old name back. Now Yekaterinburg is fourth largest city in Russia with a population of 1.5 million.




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