Saint Petersburg/Vasilievsky Island

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The Vasilievsky Island is a borough in Saint Petersburg situated between the Bolshaya Neva and the Malaya Neva, two main distributaries of the river. Besides the Vasilievsky Island proper it also includes the Dekabristov Island, separated by the Smolenka river, and smaller islets, but the vast northwestern part of the borough offers almost nothing interesting to see, in contrast with the eastern part, which is very rich in landmarks.
Around 1715-1725 the eastern part of the island was projected to become the city center. This project was abandoned with the death of Peter the Great, and in the 1730s the center shifted to the southern bank of the Neva, but several Petrine Baroque buildings here date from that period and the island has since remained the center of the city's academic life. It is now home to the Academy of Arts, Mining Institute, main campus of Saint Petersburg State University as well as the local branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences with its library and several research institutes and museums. The rectangular grid of streets seen today was originally a grid of canals, filled in after 1767. From the 1730s till mid-19th century the eastern part of the bank of the Malaya Neva hosted the city sea and river port, and, though the port eventually moved away, many buildings still standing there were designed for this purpose. In 1850 the first permanent bridge across the Neva, Blagoveshchensky Bridge, linked the island to the city center. Since then the rest of the borough has been gradually built over. Its westernmost parts, reclaimed from the Gulf of Finland, are still being developed.

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