Research Article
Research Article
Development of dacha settlements in the Moscow region in the second half of the 19th – first half of the 20th century
expand article infoAlexander V. Rusanov
‡ Lomonosov Moscow State University, Moscow, Russia
Open Access


One of the results of the dacha development of a territory is the emergence of specific types of settlements – dacha settlements. Their role in today’s national economic complex of the Moscow region is different, largely due to peculiarities of formation at different stages of socio-economic development. In this context, the pre-war decades are interesting as a period of adaptation of the pre-revolutionary dacha market trends to meet needs of the new planned economy, however, the analysis is complicated by inconsistency of a lot of statistical data. Data supplementary with reference and literary sources makes it possible to show that the pre–war dacha settlements were formed in the following two ways originated after reforming in1861: «the urban type» – through the processes of urbanization occurring in rural settlements close to the city limits, and «the developer type» – through the construction of dacha settlements on specially allocated lands. This led to the formation of a network of dacha settlements in the pre-war Moscow region, which became local centers of economic development, capable of meeting the macroeconomic needs in a mobile way, and strengthening prerequisites for the post-war development of the dacha settlements.


dacha settlements, dacha industry, dacha development, dacha stock, housing and dacha-construction cooperation, second homes, summer homes

JEL codes: P25, P28, N50, N90


One of the results of the dacha development of a territory, understood today as the use of land for gardening, vegetable planting and the placement of second homes, is the emergence of dacha settlements. Currently, they can be divided into two groups unequal in number and different in qualitative characteristics: the majority of «status-free» dacha settlements on the territory of horticultural associations («horticultural non-profit partnerships» (HNP) under the Federal Law «On non-commercial gardening and vegetable planting and on amendments to individual legislative acts of the Russian Federation « dated July 29, 2017 No. 217-FL) and a few dacha settlements, as a rule, with the appropriate official status. It was the dacha settlements, despite their number being reduced to a minimum, that played an important role in the socio-economic development of the pre-war outer Moscow (an unofficial name of the Moscow region), and also formed basis for the development of directions for the large-scale allocation of suburban areas to urban dwellers, initiated in the 1950s. 3/4 of all dacha settlements officially registered in the system of administrative-territorial division of the Moscow region before reforming in 2004-2005, in accordance with the new federal legislation, were formed in the pre-war decade and over the past years had demonstrated several development options that determined their place in the settlement system and national economic complex of the Moscow region.

Dacha settlements of the Moscow region were organized in the following two ways: through the «organized» dacha development, i.e. coming into existence of the organized settlements on land specially allotted for this purpose to urban dwellers or acquired by developers (the developer type), or through the spread of urban lifestyle to suburban rural settlements (the urban type). Chronologically, the urban type was the first, since dacha development is associated with transport accessibility of the unattractive territories, and at the first stages, directly depended upon suburban railway communication, the basic highways of which were formed in the vicinity of Moscow only at the beginning of the XX century.

Fundamental approaches to the study of dachas in the context of urbanization and rural development were outlined in scientific papers in the second half of the XX century (S.A. Kovalev, A.N. Rakitnikov, P. George, D. Enedi, D. Gibbs, E. Howard) and were continued in the works of the Russian scientists considering sociological, geographical, and demographic aspects of the dacha development (A.I. Alekseev, A.G. Makhrova, T.G. Nefedova, B.B. Rodoman, A.I. Trayvish, V.M. Moiseenko, V.V. Patsiorkovsky, N.E. Pokrovsky, U.G. Nikolaeva, I.O. Shchepetkova et al.) A detailed analysis of the historical works in socio-economic changes of non-urban settlements at different stages of urbanization and the study of these processes exemplified by the pre-revolutionary Moscow suburbs are presented in the work by A.V. Belov (Belov 2019).

The information base of the study was made up of legislative, regulatory, statistical, cartographic sources, materials of the population censuses of the Russian Empire and the USSR, archival materials of the Federal State Statistics Service for the Moscow Region. Due to insufficiency and incomparability of a lot of statistical data, reference and advertising materials (guidebooks, transport schedules, etc.), memoirs as well as nonfiction and fiction literature are also used as sources of information.

1. Dacha settlements at the initial (pre-revolutionary) stage of the dacha development of the Moscow region

Prerequisites for developing dacha settlements in the pre–war period were established at the initial (pre-revolutionary) stage of the dacha development - from 1861 (abolition of serfdom) to 1917 (October Revolution). During half a century, the Moscow region had repeatedly changed its administrative borders, however, Moscow (with population of 1038591 people according to the 1897 census) remained the center of the Moscow governorate (2430581 people, 29236.4 versts (a Russian unit of lands equaling to 1.07km.)) (The First General ... 1903-1905). The first suburban territories of Moscow actively involved in the process of dacha development were the «suburban» lands between the Kamer-Kollezhsky Val – the city limits in 1864 (passing approximately along the modern Third Transport Ring) – and the Ring Railway (the modern Moscow Central Ring). There were 15 suburban non–urban settlements located out there, which in the course of the dacha development according to the urban type were included inside the Moscow limits in 1917; this evolution was based on «dacha industry», so named by analogy with other traditional peasant crafts – the opportunity for peasants not only to let their houses, but also to construct additional living quarters on the plots specially for rent (Belov 2019: 36). Dacha industry depended upon transport accessibility – in the 1870s «the ways of communication between suburbs and the city center were still far from perfect (the tram network was just emerging)» (Major preliminary data ... 1902: 22); it became most popular in the suburban settlements from north to east of Moscow, with two to three dachas per household (Fig. 1). The reasons were the size of the land plots, a high demand for dacha real estate among the industries being brought here, replacing traditional agricultural activities («order a samovar service» in Petrovsky Park, production of rubber products in Bogorodsky), as well as a dual residential and recreational function of the dacha settlements.

Figure 1.

Dacha industry in suburban settlements near Moscow. Compilation is based on: (Belov 2019: 8, 146)

Aspiration of the «nobles and rich merchants... [to reside in summer] in rented rural houses was observed in Moscow as early as at the end of the XVIII century, (Karamzin 1835: 143), and as the scale of the market entrepreneurship grew, this desire became stronger among representatives of the nascent Russian business who did not have ancestral estates near Moscow. This stimulated them to acquire land on the outskirts of the city or in the nearest suburbs for summer residences. The principles of land acquisition were regulated by the «dacha» Decree issued by Nicholas I as of 1844 (On distributing ... 1844). There were enough lands in Moscow and the surrounding area, however before the abolition of serfdom, not all lands could freely enter the real estate market, and the first dacha suburbs that were outside the city limits at that time included Sokolniki, Vorobyovy Gory, and Ostankino, which was restored after the War of 1812, and Petrovsky Park. Although many dacha settlements had already lost their independence within the life-span of one generation of their residents and were included inside the Moscow limits, they became a practical example of the dacha development of the nearest suburbs under “expansion” of the city, since «there are still villages located near Moscow that retained various historical memories as dacha areas commuted to Moscow through convenient transport connection, enlarging more and more every year» (Shramchenko 1890: 1) (Fig. 2).

Figure 2.

Dacha areas of the Moscow governorate, 1902. Compilation is based on: (Magnussen, Umanets 1902)

Analysis of demographic characteristics of the dacha Moscow region is complicated by lack of information, which is not only incomparable for different periods, but can only be indirect in general for individual years: «As to suburbs of Moscow, since there were no official borders of individual localities, their differentiation in some cases is quite conditional» (Major preliminary data... 1902: 15). However, it was noted that by the beginning of the XX century, Maryina Roshcha had concentrated more than a quarter of the population of all 17 registered Moscow suburbs and «surpasses 16 governorates and regional cities of Russia in terms of population» (Table 1), having tripled in 1897-1902, while others, «retaining completely or partially the character of dacha suburbs, settlements, are growing relatively slowly: Petrovsko-Razumovskoye – by 20%, Vorobyovy Gory and Potylikha – by 12%» (Major preliminary data... 1902: 16), with a higher gender imbalance: 586 women per 1000 men in 1902, and 619 in 1897 (Major preliminary data ... 1902: 28).

Table 1.

Population total number and gender composition of the largest Moscow suburbs according to the population censuses of 1897 and 1902

Suburbs The 1902 Moscow Census The 1897All – Russia Census
men women both sexes men women both sexes
People % People % People % People % People % People %
1 Maryina Roshcha 14341 65.33 7612 34.67 21953 100 5055 64.00 2843 36.00 7898 100
2 Cherkizovo 6133 51.63 5746 48.37 11879 100 4635 51.54 4358 48.46 8993 100
Total suburbs 51531 63.08 30157 36.92 81688 100 28950 61.75 17930 38.25 46880 100

Development of the railway network, initiated in 1851 with a section of the St. Petersburg-Moscow (Nikolaev) railway, for half a century has covered almost the entire Moscow governorate with radius, expanding the territories of dacha industry and dacha development. Although a comprehensive suburban railway connection has been developed in the Moscow region only in the 1910s, the first stations were sometimes located in places where it was possible to increase the influx of potential summer residents, and were built at the expense of landowners, such as V.I. Perlov (Perlovka), K.I. Tomilin (Tomilino), V.I. Firsanova (Firsanovskaya) and so on. A special attention was focused on the appanage lands of the Yaroslavl and Ryazan directions, the first of which led to the Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius, while the second one had unique coniferous forests. The land resources of the dacha settlements consisted of private landlords estates for sale, usually quite large, peasant allotments, as a rule, small, and the lands of the Department of Appanage Estates1. Their market behaviour was different: the sale of peasant allotments did not cause any special problems due to low cost and insignificant size, the fate of the appanage lands was determined by macroeconomic interests and was not subject to discussion, while transactions with the owners of country estate or other real estate suitable for dachas could be delayed for several years, reducing the potential benefit of the developer. Dacha development of these lands not only pushed the outer borders of the «ring of settlements» surrounding Moscow away from the city limits, but also strengthened dacha potential of the remote uyezds (a type of a secondary-level administrative subdivision) of the Moscow governorate: while over 70% of the dacha areas and dacha settlements were localized in the Moscow uyezd, about 13% – in the Zvenigorod uyezd, 6%– in the Bronnitsky and Bogorodsky uyezds each, a dacha area appeared in the more remote Kolomenskoye uyezd (Peski (the sands) of Kolyberevskaya volost (a rural community consisting of several villages or hamlets), at the station of the same name 12 versts away from the uyezd chief town), dacha settlements – in the Vereysky uyezd (Petrovskaya volost, 50-60 versts way from the uyezd chief town and 2-5 versts from Aprelevka railway station, platform Alabino and Ketritsa) at a small village of Alabino and Burtsevo village, as well as several private dachas at the villages Kromino, Krutilovo and Selyatino (Populated areas... 1913: 146-148).

There were four groups of settlements by use in the pre-revolutionary Moscow governorate, differing in intensity of their development (Fig. 3):

  1. Industrial – mainly serving local centers of industrial life. 1-2.5 buildings per 1000m 2.
  2. Suburban – a group of settlements bordering Moscow, adapted for permanent settlement of less affluent segments of the urban population. Almost lost the dacha nature, or never had one. 4-5 buildings per 1000m 2.
  3. Suburban-dacha – built up partly with dacha buildings, partly with buildings suitable for permanent housing. About 1.5 buildings per 1000m 2.
  4. Dacha – built up mainly with dacha buildings. About 0.5 building per 1000m 2.

At first, development of the dacha settlements was chaotic, but over time, the scale of construction began to reach such proportions that the tax collected from the plots («Zemstvo tax»; zemstvo – an institution of local government) became a noticeable share of revenues of the Moscow Uyezd Zemstvo. In 1885, the share of this tax amounted to 31.3% of all revenues, and the Zemstvo council decided to improve the largest and most popular suburban settlements. In 1887, funds were allocated for street lighting in Pushkin dacha area, in 1890 Bogorodskoye and then other settlements were illuminated (Economic and statistical collection... 1911: 91). By the end of the XIX century zemstvo councils have developed rules for dividing dacha settlements into blocks with roads 10 sazhen-wide (sazhen – a Russian measure of length equal to 2.13 meters) for fire safety and ease of travel. The center of the village was most often a park, and the town-forming role was assigned to the railway station, around which the objects of engineering and social infrastructure (restaurants, buffets, summer theaters, sports fields, bike paths) were grouped; preservation of forest areas and compensatory planting were envisaged, it was forbidden to build up more than 1/3 of an individual plot and erect blind fences that violate natural visual connections (Durilin, 1918: 21 ...).

The industrial boom at the turn of the XIX-XX centuries has provoked a housing crisis in cities caused by rising land prices and increased rent, making it expedient to move to dachas. In the second half of the 1890s, «winter tenants» appeared in dachas, mainly railway workers, «turning urban residents from temporary to permanent», and dacha settlements become «a major factor in the uyezd life» (Economic and statistical collection... 1911: 91). However, location of industrial enterprises could slow down the dacha development as well: there were few enterprises on the western outskirts of Moscow, so the population of this part of the city did not show much demand for dachas located nearby (Fig. 3, Table 2).

Figure 3.

Dacha settlements of the pre- revolutionary Moscow region. Compilation is based on: (Economic and statistical collection… 1911).

Table 2.

Housing stock of dacha settlements of the Moscow governorate, 1910*

Group Name of settlements Total buildings Of these houses and cottages
Total %
Suburban-dacha Kuskovo, Perovo 1423 1253 88.05
First dacha group Alexandrovsky, Bogdanovka, Lianozovsky, Mamonovo, Mikhalkovo, Novoye Gireevo, Pokrovskoye-Glebovo, Skhodnya, Troekurovo 740 708 95.68
Second dacha group Aksinino-Znamenskoye, Butakovo, Kitaevsky, Malye Krutitsy, Meshchersky, Natasha, Nikolo-Arkhangelsky, Novosokolniki, Spas-Paveltsevo, Saltykovsky, Starbeevo, near hamlet Sharapova, near village Golyanovo, near village Sukovo, near village Troitskoe 1003 932 92.92

The largest dacha settlements – Kuskovo and Perovo – due to their proximity to Moscow, actually became year-round suburbia, while villages of the first and second dacha groups differed in the average cost of housing sold: 5,122 rubles and 2,567 rubles, respectively, attracting people with different incomes (Economic and statistical collection… 1911: 143). Dachas were in demand: «According to the 1902 census, the main share of the population in the suburbs, about 65.99%, included non-local workers or craftsmen. ...Despite terrible sanitary conditions, land prices in villages are abnormally high. By dividing the land into square sazhens, the owners cleverly disguise the real value of the land making up to 1-5000% having hardly spent anything» (Durilin 1918: 7). In 1869-1913, the Moscow uyezd reported a 20-fold increase in the «number of taxable houses and dachas»: from 1,478 to 28,304 (Economic and statistical collection... 1911: 91), however, due to high rent, the majority of the most well-maintained dacha settlements remained inaccessible to population with small incomes, while the construction of settlements for «low-income Muscovites were «restrained» by the “unwillingness of construction capital to flow into the uyezd,» since there were many «profitable and reliable opportunities for the capital in Moscow» (Economic and statistical collection.. 1911: 96). Thus, the first half-century of the dacha development in the Moscow region made it possible to identify the scheme of its development. «The winter tenant displaces the summer resident. The demand for land increases the price of it. There is a need to use the land more intensively. Construction sites are fragmentized; buildings are crowded. Instead of building mansions, construction of revenue houses begins. Renting of apartments is being developed and rental prices are increasing, resulting in higher renting of rooms and even corners. Population growth attracts handicraft, local industries and trade to the village. From purely philistine it becomes a mixed one» (Economic and statistical collection... 1911: 98). Remote villages shared the same problems as Moscow and the nearest suburbs. The uyezd and governorate authorities attempted to solve the problems, in particular, making the developers connect sanitary services as early as at the stage of preliminary planning, by 1917 there had been over 600 dacha settlements in the Moscow governorate with population adding up to 15 thousand people in some settlements (Durilin 1918: 16). Although not all of them had the status of an official settlement, they served basis for an extensive network of dacha settlements in the Moscow region, the formation of which continued after the revolutionary socio-economic changes that followed soon.

2. Spatial and demographic characteristics of dacha settlements of the pre-war Moscow region

The pre-war stage of dacha development in the Moscow region began in 1918, when the country switched to centralized planning, and Moscow regained its status as a capital. In 1929, during reorganization of the administrative-territorial division of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR), the Moscow Region (the original name was Central Industrial Region) was formed with boundaries being repeatedly modified.

The planned economy and nationalization of land made it possible to use dachas to solve national challenges, primarily housing and food. The Russian housing crisis, exacerbated by the wars and revolutions of the early XX century, has only worsened in the first Soviet years in the capital, however, dacha settlements cushioned the effects thanks to the opportunity to live in dacha settlements: from April 1 to June 1, 1918, 50,000 Muscovites left for summer to the Moscow governorate and neighboring governorates to dachas, some of which were nationalized (Fedorov). It was possible to alleviate the problem of housing shortage through active construction, however, after the Decrees of the Council of People’s Commissars, Resolutions of the Moscow City Council on nationalization of land and urban real estate, it became possible only in about 600 villages located some 30-40 versts away from Moscow, where the new rules of municipalization did not come into force, and they «are not regulated by anything in their structure» (Fedorov).

In such conditions, the dacha housing stock was considered as one of the options for resolving the housing crisis; the issue received much attention at the highest level – Resolution of the Council of People’s Commissars of the RSFSR No. 411 dated May 24, 1922 «On developing a list of dacha estates under control and exploitation of Communal Departments» granted «the right to exploit the municipalized dachas both by direct economic management and by leasing» (On developing ... 1922), and transferred control over implementation to the People’s Commissariat of Internal Affairs (NKVD). Pursuant to this decree, a “communal dacha stock [...] included the following categories of dacha estate:

  1. dachas whose owners are missing;
  2. manor dachas. Dachas with one of the following characteristics are recognized as manor dachas: equipped with amenities (water supply, bath, electricity, heating, etc.); availability of special outbuildings (stables, garages, etc.); availability of gardens, parks, grounds, etc.; luxurious interior decoration;
  3. dacha estates of those owners who have several dacha estates in the same area (one land plot with all the buildings located on it should be considered as a dacha estate). The owner has the right for one summer residence only.

If the above-mentioned three categories are not enough to meet purposes of developing the municipal dacha stock, the dacha stock may also include:

  1. dachas of those individuals who own only one dacha plot, but with several residential buildings on it. At least one residential building remains at the owner’s disposal» (Portugalov 1935: 176-178).

In 1924, dacha settlements were classified as settlements with the official status of settlements:

«1. All settlements of the RSFSR, with the exception of dacha, workers’ and resort settlements, are divided into the following two main categories: urban settlements and rural settlements.

2. Dacha, workers’ and resort settlements are special categories of settlements. The general legal status of these settlements (procedure for land tenure, management, rent collection, etc.), as well as characteristics on the basis of which settlements can be classified as dacha, workers’ and resort settlements, are determined by special provisions» (General Regulations on urban ... 1924).

The ineffective post-revolutionary policy of «housing redistribution», based on « tenants’ compression», «assigning living quarters to someone in somebody’s apartment», etc., was replaced in the early 1920s by a «new housing policy», which provided for dacha-building cooperation «in order to combat the housing crisis through developing housing construction and promoting the most effective management of the available residential buildings on the basis of independent activities of the greatmasses of the working population» (On housing cooperation 1924). Representatives of the new Soviet elite were among the first to take advantage of this opportunity, later workers’ dacha cooperatives came into existence (Workers’ cooperative... 1932: 24-25).

In 1927, the legal status of dacha settlements was entrenched as settlements combining characteristics of both urban and rural area, with the population equated to the urban one. Settlement councils, in fact, rural councils, became a governing body of dacha settlements, the most «economically powerful» of which could be vested with «budgetary rights»; land for dacha settlements was allocated «in accordance with the procedure established for land allocation by cities» (The Land Code… 1923), however, in terms of taxation they were equated to rural settlements (On dacha settlements... 1927). Such institutional regulation was of great practical importance, because the real dacha functions were performed by various localities – from towns, villages, hamlets, settlements to small localities, wastelands, churchyards, booths, stations, etc. – but according to the All-Union Census of 1926, «dachas», «former dachas», «forest dachas», «dacha stations» and «dacha settlements», which were registered by volost as part of village councils were considered dacha settlements. The number of inhabitants of these settlements ranged from 2 people to several dozen (94 people in the village of Alabinsky dachas), and the type of activity was referred to as «other», i.e. included, «in addition to state farms, collective farms, artels, communes and farms with non-agricultural occupations and permanently living in this place, ... also persons temporarily residing at the time of the census in this locality» (calculations are based on: Lists of populated places ... 1929). Some of them were located near railway stations: Maikina dacha was 3 km away from Elektrostal (suburban volost of the Bogorodsky uyezd), Ashitkovskaya lesnaya dacha (2.13 km from Ashitkovo station of the Moscow-Kazan railway, the Bronnitsky uyezd), Faustovskaya dacha (Faustovo station of the Moscow-Kazan railway), Senezh dacha (2.13 km from Podsolnechnaya station of the Oktyabrskaya railway, the Solnechnogorsk uyezd) or along highways: former dacha of the Polish Society (0.53 km from the Leningrad highway, 3 km from Klin), Kamensky dacha settlement (Vasilyevskaya volost, 2 km from Kudinovsky highway, the Bogorodsky uyezd), however, some were located where there are «no highways», and the nearest railway is over 10 km away (dachas of the Yegoryevsky uyezd) (Lists of populated places... 1929: 3). At that time, the Moscow governorate consisted of 17 uyezds with a total population of 2,544,947 people (without Moscow); the institutional capabilities of the command economy provided for a quick adaptation of the status of the existing settlements to the needs of centralized planning, and in 1928 32 settlements within the territory of the Moscow governorate received the status of «dacha settlement» (Reference book... 2011: 661-664) (fig. 4). There were several hundred dacha houses in many of those settlements (Saltykovka and Novo-Sokolniki — 1200, Lublino-Dachnoye — 720, Mikhelson village — 550, Novo-Gireevo — 520, Veshnyaki — 500, Khimki - 500, Skhodnya — 450, Tomilino — 400), the settlements had a developed engineering and social infrastructure for that time (electricity, water supply, telephone, socio-cultural institutions, etc.) (Portugalov 1935: 7-106).

The «developer» way of dacha development continued in dacha settlements situated on the former appanage lands near railway stations (Kraskovo, Malakhovka, Udelnaya, Ilyinskoye, Bolshevo, Zagoryanskaya, Sokolovskaya), and their owner could be both the state represented by the Dacha Trust (Kraskovo, Malakhovka) and dacha-building cooperatives (DBC) (DBC in Valentinovka of theater employees, DBC “Strelka” in Kolomenskoye). Land selection for organized dacha settlements was mainly guided by socio-economic factors related to labour resources, transport and communications (including the possibility of operational improvement of transport accessibility –Otdykh (Russ. for « rest» or «recreation») station was opened for Krasny Bor cooperative settlement in 1929; natural and geographical conditions did not come to the fore – for example, in the absence of natural reservoirs, artificial ponds were created or small local ponds were expanded at the expense of the state (Malakhovka, Ilyinskoye, Kratovo) (Fig. 4).

Figure 4.

Dacha settlements and dacha areas of the Moscow region, 1935. Compilation is based on: (Portugalov 1935; Materials for planning… 1935).

At the first Soviet («dacha-housing») stage, the «urban» way of dacha development was mainly characteristic of the former rural settlements of the nearest suburbs, where there were so many winter tenants residing at dachas all year round that the summer dacha industry, which had hardly changed compared to the pre-revolutionary stage, lacked free housing (Lianozovo, Chukhlinka, Perovo). In 1935, registration of the suburban railway service as an independent transport division of the Ministry of Transport and gradual electrification of the Moscow hub allowed replacing the «dacha» routes with regular ones in all directions to the borders of the region (70-125 km), improving attractiveness of settlements situated some 40-45 km away from the capital as dachas and increasing the number of «winter tenants» out there. With this in mind, dacha settlements of the Moscow region can be divided into the fowling groups: (Materials for planning ... 1935).

  1. Dacha-urban – formally within the city limits but with dacha category (Perlovka-Taininka within the limits of Mytishchi, Mikhelson village within the limits of Lyubertsy, etc.); the dacha population prevailed with a small chare of workers working in the capital.
  2. Dacha-workers’ settlements – located on the territory of industrial enterprises, transport facilities or in close proximity to them: Khimki (Moscow Canal), Odintsovo (brick factories), Golitsyno (mechanical workshops), etc.; the population employed at local enterprises prevailed, with a small share of summer residents and workers with a permanent employment in Moscow.
  3. Old dachas – pre-revolutionary, localized along the main railway lines (Klyazma, Zagoryanskoye, Saltykovka dacha complex, Rastorguyevo, Vnukovo, Zhavoronki, Firsanovka, Lianozovo, etc.); Moscow «winter tenants» prevailed with the number doubling in summer.
  4. New dachas (summer dacha, cooperative) – emerged after the revolution within borders of the old dacha villages and near them.

This classification has created theoretical prerequisites for determining future of the dacha settlements in the territorial planning of Moscow and the Moscow region: dacha-workers’ settlements concentrated labour resources and could be transformed into workers’ settlements or grow into autonomous towns, while new dachas were considered the most promising sources of new dacha stock. Indeed, in the course of socialist industrialization, industrial enterprises were located in some dacha settlements, which was strongly prohibited by the rules of the pre–revolutionary dacha settlements, country houses became workers’ dormitories, and the settlements themselves became «workers’ settlements» (Podlipki, 1938), sometimes acquiring atypical administrative and managerial functions (Lenino (former Tsaritsyno), 1939, center of the Leninsky district of the Moscow region) or were completely or partially liquidated «as required by business purposes» (Khlebnikovo, Sheremetyevo during construction of the Moscow Canal). Keeping in mind the fact that in 1934, 200,000 plots totaling to 121.7 thousand km2 were alloted for vegetable gardens in the Moscow region (On deploying individual ... 1933), which a priori had only a food (auxiliary-agrarian) function, the increased number of «winter tenants» suggests strengthening of the residential function of the dacha settlements, contributing to their merger with the city or «autonomization» due to «expansion» to vacant lands or amalgamation with the neighboring settlements (Chelyuskin settlement received the dacha settlement status in 1938, and in 1940 was included in the limits of the old dacha Cherkizov) (Reference book... 2011: 661-664). As a result of the All-Union administrative-territorial and managerial reorganizations in 1938, 22 suburban settlements with population of 5-10,000 people each were named «dacha settlements», and some of those who had been given such status in 1928 upgraded it to an urban one (Mikhelson settlement in 1934 was included in the town of Lyubertsy) or changed, becoming «workers’ settlements» (Skhodnya, Tomilino).

Administrative transformations of dacha settlements reflected changes in their role during the period of industrial development of the first five-year plans. As in the whole country, dachas in the Russian region settlements founded before the revolution did not belong to their inhabitants, they could only be rented. Although these dachas often represented a kind of summer version of a city shared apartment, they were not available to everyone, which gave them a certain elitism, separating them from rural settlements with the developed dacha industry, where anyone could rent seasonal housing. Dacha settlements with the official status generally do not fully correspond to the accepted interpretation of dacha as a suburban «second home» complementing the main urban one, since they suggest a permanent population, i.e. permanent registration at the place of residence («residence registration»). Real second homes could only be owned by members of a few DBC, as well as those who had received land plots as a government award with the right to lifetime use or lived in «state-owned» (departmental) dachas during their relevant assignment. The «award distribution» formed comfortable «new-dacha» settlements joining the regional dacha stock (over 20 thousand residential buildings in 1935) and becoming basis of the «elite» segment of the dacha development in the pre-war Moscow region.

In the 1930s, the housing problem in the capital remained relevant, and attention was again drawn to the residential role of dacha settlements, even remote ones some tens of kilometers away from Moscow. In 65 dacha settlements of the suburban zone (up to 60 km from the corresponding station), 22955 residential houses were registered in 1936, including only 3369 (14.67%) summer houses; in 29 of those dacha settlements there were no summer houses at all, although they were located near stations some 30-50 km away from Moscow, and the majority of the settlements of the Kazan (27.29% of summer houses), Savelovskaya (26.42%) and Paveletskaya (20.5%) railways were mainly oriented towards seasonal habitation, while in the Baltic direction there were no summer houses at all among the registered 6 residential buildings in the only settlement named Troitsky Pogost (Manikhino station, 52.2 km) (calculations are based on: Materials for planning..., 1935). The increasing needs of the population has resulted in placing social facilities in the settlements, continuing the process of spreading the urban lifestyle to rural areas and forming an urban-type economy, making even rather remote from the capital settlements look like suburbia of the nearest suburbs.


Dacha development of a territory leads to the emergence of dacha settlements – a special type of settlements already at the initial stage, with prospects depending upon their location, transport accessibility, and place in the economic complex of the region. In the pre-revolutionary Moscow region, they were formed in the following two ways: through the processes of urbanization occurring in rural settlements close to the city limits, and through dacha development on specially allocated land; the «urban-type» began with the emergence of a free land market after the 1861reforms and was characteristic of the nearest suburbs “along tram routs”, while the “developer-type” was expending as the railway network develops, increasing the accessibility of territories remote from the city. This led to the formation of a network of dacha settlements in the pre-war Moscow region, which became local centers of economic development, capable of meeting the macroeconomic needs in a mobile way, and strengthening prerequisites for the post-war development of the dacha settlements.

In the pre-war decades, the dacha development of the Moscow region continued in accordance with the trends determined at the pre-revolutionary agrarian-industrial market stage, when dacha land tenure, dacha functions and dacha lifestyle were just beginning to evolve. Potential multifunctionality of dacha settlements has created prerequisites for their further evolution into different types of settlements – from rural with a seasonal population to urban with a permanent population, while the unique basic principles of institutional regulation made it easy to fit them into the general schemes of the economic and territorial development.

Reference list

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Information about the author

Rusanov Alexander Valeryevich, associate (engineer) of the Laboratory of economics of population and demography, Faculty of economics of Lomonosov Moscow State University. E-mail:

1 The Department of Appanage Estates is a state institution of the Russian Empire that managed property (appanage lands, country estates, and until 1863 – also appanage serfs) of the Imperial family in 1797-1917.
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