It happened in 1960
This week Kyiv Metro celebrates its 58th birthday. The first line was opened to the public on November 6, 1960. It was the first metro in Ukraine, and the third in the whole Soviet Union (after Moscow, and Saint Petersburg ones).
The first line to be opened consisted of 5 stations. It was the shorter version of the contemporary Red Line: a piece from Vokzalna to Dnipro, minus Teatralna. Today, almost 6 decades later, Kyiv Metro consists of 3 lines (red, green, and blue). There are 52 stations with tree transfer pairs. The lines now stretch to the remote residential areas of the city, with their trains being able to cross two of the bridges through the Dnipro river.
Kyiv Metro was designed as a shrunk version of the Moscow one: twice smaller platform, 5 trucks instead of 10. Just like its prototype, our metro is concurrently a bomb shelter. However, it was constructed after World War II, so unlike its Moscow prototype, it was never actually used as a bomb shelter.
February 2014 was the only time in Kyiv’s Metro history when it was shut down for a few days. It happened during the escalation of the conflict between the government and the protesters in Maidan. The government didn’t want more people arriving at Maidan, so it shut the main channel of transportation. However, the official reason to shut it was to protect citizens against the terrorist threat.
Arsenalna is probably the most famous. Being a part of the oldest line, it is also the deepest metro station in the world. Two escalators will take you down to 105,5 meters deep. Next after Arsenalna is Dnipro, which is completely above the ground. This shows just how hilly Kyiv landscape is, and how hard it was for the metro architects and builders to put up with it.
Zoloti Vorota (Golden Gates) is perhaps the prettiest. You can find it near the historical site of the Golden Gates. This station is decorated with multiple mosaics that tell the history of the ancient Kyiv. Opened on the same day (December 31, 1989) Zoloti Vorota, Palats Sportu, and Klovska (originally Mechnykova) were the last three stations constructed before Ukrainian independence.
Univesytet (the University) is almost as deep as Arsenalna, and just as old. On the 50th anniversary of Kyiv Metro, it received a photo collage that tells the history of construction. Besides that as a tribute to studies, it is decorated with the reliefs of famous Ukrainian and Russian scientists and writers: Taras Shevchenko, Hryhorii Skovoroda, Aleksandr Pushkin, Dmitriy Mendeleev, and others.
There are two ghost stations in Kyiv Metro: Lvivska Brama (between Zoloti Vorota and Lukyanivska) and Telychka (between Vydubychi and Slavutych). Both of them were once designed and half-built, however, never opened. Their construction stopped for the technical or other reasons. If you’re attentive you can notice dark abandoned platform of Lvivska Brama, when you pass by. City legends say that ghosts haunt these two stations in the night.
What do we hear and see there?
In 1990 the stations’ names and announcements in Kyiv Metro were first recorded in Ukrainian, as opposed to Russian. Since then till recently, for 28 years we heard the same voice in metro daily, the voice of a puppet theatre actor, Mykola Petrenko. The whole generation of young Ukrainians strongly associates theirs trips in the metro with his voice.
Unfortunately, two years ago Mykola died, and sooner or later the voice should have been changed. This happened a few months ago due to decommunization renaming of Petrivka station into Pochaina station. The new ‘voice of metro’ belongs to an actor, Yuriy Grebelnyk. He is also famous for the dubbing of many movies and shows into Ukrainian.
Within the last few years, Kyiv metro also became foreigners friendly. Now we have nicely designed metro map in English. Most of the announcements are dubbed into English too.
Last year metro received the new and witty design of its politeness warning. The famous Ukrainian social media character, Gus (The Goose) teaches Kyiv citizens and visitors to be nice to each other.