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Few towns in our country can be found to have stepped up so swiftly from the past to the present. It seems as if the history of Zaporizhzhya had never existed before (the town got its present name in 1921), as if there had never been dusty unpaved streets, wattle and daub houses with straw roofs in the workers' settlements with the hopeless destiny of the Alexandrovsk proletariat. All of that can now be seen in museums and remains only in the memory of old-timers.
The town is more than 200 years old. The little that had survived since the pre-revolutionary past has merged into the Zaporizhzhya of the 1930s according to an overall plan. That's why the residential areas are so spacious with plenty of light and verdure, and all the streets crossing Lenin Prospekt are directed towards the Dnieper, to the fine embankment completed recently. The town stretches 30 kilometers along the river, while in width the new blocks of buildings spread out for 25 kilometers. A most remarkable sight, the pride and adornment of the town is Khortitsa Island — the custodian of antiquity reserve.
The town is situated on the wide plains along both banks of the ancient river and this imparts Zaporozhye a unique aspect. It stands half-way between the fields of iron ore in Krivoi Rog and coal in the Donetsk basin. Railways, highways, airlines and water-ways connect Zaporizhzhya with Moscow, Sankt-Petersburg, Kiev, Kharkov, Poltava, Simferopol and many other cities and towns of our country. Just beyond the borders of the town swashes the Kakhovsky Reservoir, which is often called a sea, and about 150— 200 kilometers away down south from Zaporizhzhya lies the Sea of Azov, the warmest in Ukraine and it is a very popular health-resort zone in our country. Historians and archaeologists assert that the territory of Zaporizhzhya had been inhabited by people from time immemorial. Stone implements of labour of the Late Palaeolithic Age (about 15 thousand years ago), two settlements of the Neolithic Age (6th millennium B.C.), objects of material culture of the Late Bronze Epoch (1st millennium B. C.) and other findings on the territory of the town prove this. Both the Scythians (4th century B.C.) and the Sarmatians (2nd century B.C.— 2nd century A.D.) had lived here while in the 9th—13th centuries this area was already heavily inhabited by Slavs, which is proved by the remains of 57 Slavonic settlements undug near the Dneproges. But, according to scientists' opinion, most of the Slav dwellers left this area in the 13th century, fleeing from the Golden Horde invasion and in the end of the 15th century and the beginning of the 16th century the Zaporizhzhya Cossacks became masters of the land beyond the rapids of the Dnieper River.
The impregnable Khortitsa became one of the centers of Cossack formations, which became a mighty force of the Ukrainian people in the struggle against foreign invaders and feudal yoke, for the reunion of the Ukraine with Russia.
But the town itself arose much later, during the period of united struggle of the fraternal peoples against the Turkish Sultanate. In the end of 1770, at the mouth of the Mokraya Moskovka founded was one of the fortresses of the Dnieper fortified line, it was named Alexandrovsk after the commander of the first Russian Army prince Alexander Golitsyn, and the builders, a battalion of Russian soldiers and toilers "lopatniki" (shovellers) who had come here with their families, became the first settlers of the future town. Among them were also Zaporizhzhya Cossacks, who after the abolition of the Zaporozhskaya Sech in 1775 formed a large village nearby.
The settlement grew up very slowly. Plague epidemics, predatary taxes, wartime hardships, all these hindered its development. The people were mainly occupied in raising cattle, farming, growing vegetables, hunting and fishing. Handicraft and trade were poorly developed.
Following the victory over the Turkish Sultanate and the annexation of the Crimean Khanate to Russia (1783) the Dnieper fortified line lost its military significance, the Alexandrovsk fortress was turned into a possad (trading quarter in the suburbs of a settlement). Since 1785 it was called Alexandrovsk and some administrative offices appeared here. In 1802 the town was included in the Ekaterinoslav Province and in 1806 became a district town.
Meanwhile, besides its name, very few changes had taken place in the town. This is what a writer A. S. Afanasyev-Chuzhbinsky wrote about Alexandrovsk in the 60ies of the last century: "Situated on the Dnieper it could not, in any way, become better than a large village, and by keeping their petty trade going on somehow, could not even console a hungry wayfarer..."; "Dead silence reigns over the town, as usual, and there is hardly any industry..." In 1861 the town numbered 3819 people living there; it had 3 brick houses, 469 wooden and wattle-daub huts, 1 food store, 15 small wooden shops and a pub. There were only 4 streets and even they were unpaved, with no sidewalks and lighting, even without names.
Besides a tallow-melting shop and 3 brickyards there were no other industrial works. Only after the reform in 1861 there appeared the first agricultural machine-building plant, primitive handicraft workshops processing wood and metal, steam mills and a tobacco factory, belonging to the foreign capitalists, who exploited the workers mercilessly.
The development of the town was promoted mainly by the construction of the Ekaterininsky railroad, inaugurated in 1873. Two years later the railroad was prolonged to Sevastopol.
Still the growth of the industry hardly affected the culture in the town. Even in the end of the last century there was no club, no cinema, no library in Alexandrovsk, they appeared in the first decade of our century. It is significant that in opposition to the ruling bourgeois culture, which even, according to the statement of the administration of the local commercial school, aroused "the very lowest nature of emotions" the workers of Alexandrovsk got down to developing their own culture. In 1910 they planted a park, built a club, organized an amateur theatre, a brass band and a choir, the conductor of which was a worker P. G. Zhuravlyov. This choir took part in All-Russia contests. Plays of Ukrainian and Russian classics were performed on the stage of the workers' theatre.
After the victory of the Great October Socialist Revolution and the establishment of Soviet power in the town the workers led by the party organizations did their best to restore the ruined enterprises and set them working. The Kommunar Plant and the Kichkass Plant No. 14 began to function in 1921. In March 1923 the workers of the Kichkass Plant and of the Krasny (Red) Progress in Bolshoi Tokmak made and sent V. I. Lenin the first in the country Zaporozhets tractor as a gift. A year later 200 tractors of such a type were already working on the fields of the first collective farms. By that time other plants and shops began working, such as the International Wire and Nail Plant, an automobile repair shop, three brick and tile yards, mills, an electric station. And in 1927 builders of the Dneproges came to the banks of the Dnieper.
A swift upward development of the town began then and the whole country learned its new proud name Zaporizhzhya. As it is known the construction of the Dneproges as well as the grand Lenin plan of GOELRO embodied not only the erection of power engineering units, but an all-round development of industry and on its base a new socialist culture in the broadest sense of the word. One after another enterprises of the Zaporizhzhya industrial complex were put into operation: the Aluminium group of enterprises, the Plant of Instrumental Steel (Dneprospetsstal), Zaporozhstal Works, the Coke-Chemical Plant, the Ferroalloy Plant, the Refractory Materials Plant.
And all around before the very eyes rose a town, a cultural centre on the construction of which the best town-planners worked. Already in 1920—1921 .there had been opened 26 primary and seven-year schools, dramatic and art schools, an industrial technical school, a mechanic-technic professional school, a teacher's college, and many other educational and cultural establishments. The foreign consulters working at the Dneproges acknowledged that the world had never known such a tempo and score of construction.
The peoples of all the Soviet republics rendered fraternal aid to facilitate the growth and development of Zaporizhzhya, for they saw in it a symbol of reform, as it is seen in the construction of Magnitogorsk, the Turk-Sib railway, Komsomolsk-on-the Amur... At the world exhibitions in Paris (1938) and in New York (1939) the town of Zaporizhzhya was a representative of the new Soviet towns. Zaporizhzhya became a symbol of courage and fortitude of the inhabitants of the town in defense, struggle of the patriotic underground fighters and liberation of the town from the hitlerite invaders in the years of the Great Patriotic War of 1941—1945.
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Khortitsa is not simply the largest island on the Dnieper. Nothing can be compared with this pearl created by Nature to adorn the Slavutich (as the river was called in bygone days) and the town through which waters pass quietly and smoothly. Having not been on Khortitsa, you cannot really know Zaporizhzhya, its grey antiquity, its legends, its happy destiny of nowadays.

Stepping on to the legendary land we say "Hail, Khortitsa!" "Hail, Khortitsa!" must have exclaimed our ancestors who got food and shelter from the island which defended them from the elements of nature and from the crafty enemies. It was mentioned in the middle of 10th century by the Emperor of Byzantine Konstantin Bagryanorodny in his book "About Ruling the Empire". He called it the Island of Saint George. There are several opinions as to the modern name Khortitsa. It may have come from the name of the god Khors, worshipped by the Eastern Slavs, or from the Turkish word "orta" meaning "middle", "situated in the middle", as Khortitsa is just between the two channels of the Dnieper almost equal in width.
The island, if viewed by plane from above, looks like a huge ship which has dropped anchor for ever between the banks of the Dnieper at Zaporizhzhya. It is 12 km long and 2.5 km wide, the total area being 3 000 hectares. Extremely various is the vegetation and the landscape of Khortitsa: the steppe motley grass, mixed forests and fruit gardens, hills and rocks up to 40—50 meters in height. On the island there are quite a lot of traces of primitive men and tribes of ancient Slavs, nomads (Scyths, Kimmberians, Sarmates and Polovtsi) who had lived here in the thick forests, the Scandinavian Vikings, who found shelter during their cruises down the Dnieper to the shores of Byzantine, and the warriors of Kievan Rus, who used to go "from Varagians to Greek". The Kievan princes Oleg, Igor, Olga and Vladimir Monomakh had also been here. According to legends, the brave Kievan prince Svyatoslav fell in an unequal battle against the Pechenegs on the Black Rock of the island in the spring of 972. One of the 4 dioramas in the Zaporizhzhya History Museum is devoted to that battle. In 1103 the Ancient Russian armed forces used to gather on the island before departing to fight against the Polovtsi, and in 1223 they went from here to fight against the Tatar-Mongolian Hordes.
Khortitsa became the cradle of the Zaporozhian Cossacks, who became famous in their struggle for the liberation of the Ukraine and its reunion with fraternal Russia. At the end of 15th and the beginning of 16th centuries the poor people who had escaped from the feudal and national oppression lived here in the forests, caves, and ravines of the island which was impregnable for enemies.
The island on the Dnieper was one of the main bases where the Cossacks developed and formed into a military force. Here found were relics of weapons, utensils, fortifications and other objects witnessing the existence and mode of life of the Cossacks. In 1648 the Cossack forces led by the hetman of the Ukraine Bogdan Khmelnitsky left Sech (Nikitin Rog) and Khortitsa for Zholtiye Vodi and defeated the armies of the foreign oppressors, by this started the War for the liberation of the Ukrainian people (1648—1654).
Later on Khortitsa Island still served as a basis for the mutual struggle of the Zaporizhzhya and Russian forces against the Tatar and Turkish hordes. During the Russian-Turkish war of 1735—1739 several fortified lines were built here, and on the Little Khortitsa (or Baida Island) and the right bank of the Dnieper a ship-building yard was built under the instruction of the famous Russian naval commander Vice-Admiral N. A. Senyavin. The remains of ships, anchors and cannon-balls of those days have been found on the bottom of the river at Khortitsa by underwater archaeological expeditions.
The heroic history of Khortitsa has attracted great interest of famous men of science and art. At different times the island was visited by T. G. Shevchenko, A. M. Gorky, N. V. Lisenko, I. E. Repin, V. A. Serov, I. A. Bunin, D. I. Yavornitsky, A. S. Afanasyev-Chuzhbinsky. K. Marx, N. V. Gogol, A. I. Hertzen, N. G. Chernishevsky wrote about Khortitsa Island in their works.
Hello, ancient Khortitsa! You are getting younger and younger year by year, growing more beautiful and attractive. Now the people of Zaporizhzhya call you the Island of Health. In your picturesque nooks situated are prophylactoriums of sanatorium type and centers of rest and recreation of the town plants and establishments, camps and aquatic sport centers.
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