Erase without recovery

The end of the XIX century in Baku, the Capital of Azerbaijan, was marked with the large-scale oil exploration period. At that period oil extracting from the bottom of the sea was mechanized. Russian Empire attracted private investors with the parcels of oil-rich land. Soon after investors from all over Europe and America appeared in Baku.  By the beginning of the 20th century almost half of world oil production was being extracted in Baku. The oil boom contributed to the massive growth of the city population and Baku started to spread around the old city center. Rich investors were building mansions and great houses and spared no expense. Best architects from Europe were invited to work and create masterpieces that were pasted from generation to generation and are now being wiped off the face of the city.

Modern Baku seeks to retain the title of the world’s oil capital and among wide prospects and grand architecture there seams to be no place for nostalgia and shabby artifacts from the last century. This story is about the ‘Sovetski’ district, which is right in the heart of Baku and is currently being demolished by the city administration. The tragedy is not only that the monuments of architecture are being destroyed, but also in the fact that social networks and family connections are being erased or damaged. People are being evicted and government offers compensation of 1/3 from current market value of the real estate in this part of the city. So local people, the indigenous Bakuvians, are forced to move to the suburbs or even out of the city. Some of them look up to the new opportunity; the others are confused and afraid. But all of the people are concerned about losing the connections with their neighbors that have become close family relatives, as they are sure that they will never be able to build the same type of relationships in the new community.

The district has a long history and the buildings were modified, upgraded or abandoned in different times. When you walk through the streets you can feel something special about this place and you start to believe to all the stories about ‘Sovetski’. Maybe Stalin did hide here after escaping from prison and maybe the old lady really saw young Lenin passing buy and facing her with the shoulder.

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