GUM Trading House

In 2013 GUM celebrates its double anniversary. It accomplished 120 years from the day the Upper Trading Malls designed by architect Alexander Pomerantsev have been opened and 60 years since the GUM was reopened in 1953.

The grand opening of the Upper Trading Malls took place on December 2nd, 1893. It was an exclusive project for Moscow and Russia as for that time that was the largest arcade in Europe. The Upper Trading Malls deliberately were erected as a symbol of new Moscow. The edifice was built in the traditional area of Moscow commerce. There were large stalls, small and almost tiny stalls before. Though after the construction was completed, and the gorgeous classic façade of Osip Bove overlooked Red Square, the commerce inside resembled of the Grand bazaar in Istanbul or Damask. The new trading malls were intended to become the most fashionable and technically advanced European shopping mall, but in Russian style of course. The architectural bidding to implement the project was opened in February 1889 and the architect Alexander Pomerantsev won it. It seems fantastic now but the trading arcade had been opened four years only after the old trading malls were demolished, the archeological excavations were carried out and all finds were transferred to the Historical Museum. The inside decoration was fully completed, and even the glass roof designed by the architect Vladimir Shukhov has already illuminated the passages inside. There was own power plant, artesian well, wholesale on the basement floors, telegraph, bank, restaurants, barber’s, hairdresser’s, exhibition halls and atelier.

The solemn opening of the Upper Trading Malls took place on December 2nd, 1893. The Moscow Governor-General and Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich attended the opening with his consort Elizabeth Feodorovna. Those times the shopping mall offered luxury goods – silk and brocade fabrics of the brothers Sapozhnikov, watch store of Mikhail Kalashnikov, where Leo Tolstoy and Pyotr Tchaikovsky bought Patek Philippe watches, confectionary of the Abrikosovs, Brocard perfumery, etc.

In 1917 the commerce was stopped, goods confiscated and the People’s Commissariat for Food was located there. Alexander Dmitrievich Tsiurupa implemented the “food ration dictatorship” from there. The warehouse with goods confiscated by the food groups and the canteen for the Soviet Army was also situated in the trading malls.

In 1922 Vladimir Lenin decided that the policy of the military communism cannot give the communists an opportunity to maintain the power and declared the idea of a “prolonged coexistence of capitalism and communism”. He renewed the diplomatic relationship with the West and announced the NEP – New Economic Policy. First of all he decided to test that policy on the Upper Trading Malls and on December 1st, 1921 he signed the decree “On the State Universal Department Store”, what is GUM in Russian abbreviation. So GUM became a symbol of the NEP.

Joseph Stalin closed GUM in 1930 and located Ministries and different departments there. He died on March 5th, 1953. Above his coffin, the successor Georgy Malenkov put forward an idea that two systems have been coexisted too long and that the international tension must be decreased. Thus the military budget was cut twice and intensified development of farming and light industry began. That was later called the New Course of Nikita Khrushchev, but once again, first of all that development was tested on GUM, which was refurbished and opened to public on December 24th, 1953.

GUM has a unique history. It was opened when Russia started a new epoch, normal city life and even felt happy again. Fashion in GUM, Demonstration hall, records and ice-cream in GUM all became symbols of Moscow. And all those symbols vanished when the system changed.

In 1993 GUM celebrated 100th anniversary from the foundation date. It was allowed to open the central door of the department store, which was closed since 1930. Red Square also has a completely new look. It is again the place where not only military parades march, but where people can lounge in a café, have a rest, walk and enjoy Moscow.

GUM today operates as it once was conceived – a perfect department store in the perfect trading city of Moscow and it seems that those 120 years passed without any losses and catastrophes. Since 2007 the legendary fountain in the center of GUM again pleases visitors. It has been captured in the official chronicles of the twentieth century, and in millions of private photos. The legendary movie theatre is also restored, which entered the history of the national cinema. The outside facade features a unique illumination project. Since 2006 GUM-Skating rink opens every year in Red Square. It immediately won the glory of the main icerink of the capital. We have also reconstructed the grocery store named Gastronome # 1, which Anastas Mikoyan had created for that everyone could practice the theory from the famous culinary “Book of tasty and healthy food”. Its design, vendors’ uniform and even some classic products from the Soviet era in stock (such as black tea under "Three Elephants" brand) in the Gastronome # 1 store takes us back to the 50’s and 60’s. Of course it’s just a game. In fact this is a unique shop that can satisfy the most demanding culinary whims of today's consumer. The same style we can see in the Festival café and Canteen # 57 or Soviet-style restaurant. Café is named after the Festival of Youth and Students held in Moscow in 1957, which brought together 34,000 people from 131 countries. Canteen # 57 is a classic sample of self-service restaurants and Mr. Mikoyan discovered the style in America in 1936, but was able to make it come true only in the era of thaw. However, the food is quite different now. There is a good Russian and European cuisine.

GUM is not just a store where one can buy almost everything. It is a shopping district, where there is a pharmacy, bank branch and flower shop. The most well-known global brands such as Dior, Cartier, Hermès, De Beers, Escada, Louis Vuitton, Max Mara, etc. are presented here. GUM is a monument of architecture. It is a comfortable lounge area with restaurants and cafés. It is an art gallery and venue for cultural events. It is an integral part of Russian history. It is a symbol of Moscow, and it is the closest place to the Kremlin. But with all these things people can really feel here like in Europe.