New Chapter for Moscow's Toy Story

Roundup: Pop Culture & the Arts ... Movies, Documentaries and Museum Exhibits

MOSCOW — Detsky Mir, a landmark here in the heart of Russia’s capital, was once one of the largest children’s stores in Europe, with a central atrium that had elegant balustrades, columns and elevator shafts.

Generations of Muscovites and visitors have adored Detsky Mir, which means “children’s world” in Russian. Everything from baby clothes to toys to bobby pins has been sold in the store. Located not far from the Kremlin, Detsky Mir opened in 1957 and became a symbol not only of Soviet architecture but also of the Soviet era itself.

But the store is now closed while it undergoes an estimated $200 million renovation to its interior. The project is raising concerns among preservationists that it could become the latest of the city’s architectural treasures to fall victim to commercial pressures.

Over the summer, the Moscow Architecture Preservation Society released a report asserting that in recent years numerous historically significant buildings, including some that should have been protected under the law, were demolished or scarred in renovations.

The report warned that as city officials rushed to develop in the post-Soviet era, Moscow is in danger of repeating the mistakes of major European and American cities in the 1960s, when worthy buildings were wiped out in a construction spree. And while the pace of development in Moscow has slowed because of the financial crisis, it is likely to resume when the economy picks up...

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