1989 Huge Soviet Military Topographic Depot map of Kiev (Kyiv)

Киев план-схема / [Schematic Plan of Kiev]. - Main View

1989 Huge Soviet Military Topographic Depot map of Kiev (Kyiv)


Largest Soviet-era map of Ukraine's capital.


Киев план-схема / [Schematic Plan of Kiev].
  1989 (dated)     70 x 81 in (177.8 x 205.74 cm)     1 : 15000


An enormous, classified, and scarce four-sheet map of Kiev (Kyiv), standing more than six feet tall, produced in 1989 by the Soviet Military Topographic Directorate of the General Staff (Военно-топографическое управление Генерального штаба). It depicts the city near the end of the Soviet Era, holding high the flag of socialism and Russian-Ukrainian unity, but also reflecting some cracks in the edifice of state power.
A Closer Look
Kiev is displayed with districts (район) noted, while a grid surrounds the map providing a system for referencing locations. Roads, railways, and metro lines and stations are labeled in detail, while an inset map at bottom-left focuses on the metro system. Landmarks, important public institutions, historical sites, and notable places of leisure (such as cinemas and libraries) are marked with numbers throughout, corresponding to an index at bottom left. Other 'public and cultural buildings,' such as schools, hospitals, and markets, appear in black and are labeled. Among residential areas, darker red shading denotes high-rises while lighter red shading is used for low-rise buildings.

Included are the city's grand churches and cathedrals, though the largest are noted as 'museums' rather than active places of worship. However, the legend at bottom right explains that crosses on the map indicate 'churches' (церкви, not explained are the smaller crosses used for cemeteries). In fact, by the time of publication, Gorbachev's glasnost policies had opened the door for more overt religious expression, including a degree of autonomy from the state-operated Russian Orthodox Church.
A (Somewhat) Secret Map
This map is marked as classified, 'for administrative use' (Для служебного пользования), at top right, but this designation was not the highest level of secrecy which many other Military Topographic Depot maps held. It was likely meant for a municipal government office and, as it was somewhat publicly displayed, sensitive information had to be removed. For instance, the Zhuliany Airport in the southwestern portion of the city is not marked but is simply a blank area next to the neighborhood of the same name (Жуляни; in recent years, the airport was renamed after Igor Sikorsky, a native of the city who fled from the Bolsheviks in 1919).
Kiev's Postwar and Post-Independence Rebirths
Kiev as seen here was defined by its post-World War II reconstruction, which was nearly total as the city had been devastated by the war. Massive investments in defense-related industries like aerospace and electronics helped to expand the Kiev's population and necessitated the construction of a metro system (only the third in the Soviet Union, after Moscow and Leningrad), additional bridges across the Dnipro River, and the Boryspil Airport (beyond the scope of this map). However, the 1970s saw renewed efforts at Russification and discouragement of expressions of Ukrainian identity, including the Ukrainian language. Following Ukrainian independence, and especially in the past decade, monuments and other markers that were meant to emphasize (or exaggerate) shared Russian-Ukrainian identity and history have been repurposed.

For instance, number 77 in the index at bottom-left, the 'Monument in Honor of the Reunification of Ukraine with Russia' (referring to the Pereiaslav Agreement of 1654) was constructed in 1982 as part of a series of ceremonies meant to reinforce Ukrainian-Russian shared identity and belonging within the Soviet Union. The monument included two large statues and a towering arch, which indignant locals dubbed the 'yoke' (Ярмо́). After Ukrainian independence, the arch was renamed the 'Peoples' Friendship Arch,' but increased tensions with Russia and domestic political changes in Ukraine in the past decade have led to the partial dismantling of the monument, one element of a wider 'decommunization' of the city. The remaining arch has been redubbed the 'Arch of Freedom of the Ukrainian People,' and has been utilized in ways that would horrify both the Soviets and Vladimir Putin, such as to honor human rights activists and being lit up in rainbow colors to coincide with the city's Pride Parade.
Publication History and Census
This map was produced in 1989 by the Military Topographic Directorate of the General Staff of the Soviet armed forces. A note at bottom-right suggests that the Military Topographic Depot worked off an original, less classified map by the GUGK (Главное управление геодезии и картографии), though only the Military Topographic Depot produced maps at the scale of 1:15000, suggesting considerable changes. This most secret Genshtab (Генштаб, 'General Staff') map was then altered and reduced by a level of classification, as discussed above. The present 'classified' but not 'secret' map was originally produced in 1983, then updated in 1985, followed by this 1989 edition. No edition of the map is cataloged in institutional collections.


Russian Military Topographic Depot (Военно-топографическом депо; January 27, 1812 - present) was an arm of the Russian Imperial Army charged with the organization, production, and publication of cartographic data compiled by the Russian military. It built on the foundation of the Map Depot (Депо карт), founded in 1796 to create state-of-the-art maps of the empire for military use. The Depot was abolished in 1863, when its functions were transferred to the Military Topographic Section of the Directorate of the General Staff (управления Генерального штаба). In 1866, it became the basis for the Corps of Military Topographers (Корпус военных топографов), which underwent several reorganizations and name changes throughout the 20th century. During the Cold War period, it was known as the Military Topographic Directorate of the General Staff (Военно-топографическое управление Генерального штаба, often abbreviated as VTU). Even today, as part of the armed forces of the Russian Federation, it retains a similar name and function as in imperial times. More by this mapmaker...

Main Administration of Geodesy and Cartography, U.S.S.R. (Главное управление геодезии и картографии, or GUGK; 1939 – 1991) traced its roots to the early years of the Soviet Union, when the Higher Geodetic Administration (Высшее геодезическое управление, VGU) was created to centralize and direct topographic, geodetic, and cartographic work in the new state. However, as a branch office of the Supreme Council of National Economy with little authority and a small staff, it was not able to achieve these lofty goals. In 1925, VGU was moved to the State Planning Commission (Gosplan) and underwent several organizational changes, but problems of coordination persisted. In 1935, the office was placed under the People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs (NKVD) and in 1939 renamed the Main Administration of Geodesy and Cartography (GUGK) under the USSR Council of Ministers, the form it would take until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. With its structure and authority settled, GUGK went on to produce many thousands of maps of the Soviet Union, other territories, and the world in several languages over the course of its existence. The successor to GUGK was the Federal Agency for Geodesy and Cartography (Roskartografiya), which existed from 1991 until 2009, when it was replaced with the Federal Service for State Registration, Cadastre and Cartography (Rosreestr). Learn More...


Very good. Light creasing and wear along fold lines, some of which have been reinforced with archival tissue paper on the verso. There are vertical stitching issues near center that are relics of the scan, not evident on actual map.