Moscow, the capital of the USSR, was extremely effective in combating snowfalls. I’m a living witness.
At the first sign of a major snowfall that could hamper vehicle traffic, an army of snowplows and snow collectors (see the pics at the end of the post) would swiftly come out, assisted by a least as large following of snow-transporting trucks.
The granite embankments of the Moscow river had several discharge points where the snow was promptly dumped from trucks on the ice. They also swept most of the pedestrian walks, which is why no sidewalk in Moscow was narrower than the scoop of this impressive snow-annihilating machine.
From what I have seen so far in other large cities in the snowfall belt, the USSR was a century ahead of everyone. How come?
In February 1917, in St. Petersburg, an uprising happened that led to the abdication of Czar Nicholas II, the take-down of the Russian Empire, and the rest of distressing stuff you know about the XX century. What sparked the event was closed bakeries in the city that didn’t have flour to make bread. The flour wasn’t there because of lack of grain—there was a lot of it in the train stations and depots around the country—but because heavy snowfalls made it impossible to deliver it from Central Russia to St Peterburg.
The long disgruntled lines in front of the bakeries were the starting point of the ripples, then waves, and then a tsunami that swept the empire off its feet.
The man who made sure that these ripples would ultimately grow into a revolutionary tsunami was an unassuming but very determined Bolshevik. His name was Skryabin. He went on to become a luminary in the pantheon of Soviet leaders, known to the rest of the world as Vyacheslav Molotov.
He was one of the most trusted men in Stalin’s circle. He never forgot what brought down the mighty Romanov’s empire: snow. Neither did the rest of the men in the Kremlin. Which made it very clear to anyone responsible for snow removal in Moscow and other large Soviet cities: the day when a black government sedan won’t be able to leave the Kremlin because of snowfall, would be the last day of their career—and most probably their life.
In the Soviet Union, no one ever tried penny-pinching on snow removal.
In the photo below is Prospect Marksa outside the Hotel National in Moscow:
Collected snow is disposed into the river from an embankment. This is St Pete, but you get the idea: