As a system of public transportation and a work of urban infrastructure, the Moscow Metro is an unparalleled example of architecture and design. The most grandiose architectural phenomenon of the Stalinist era, the vast system maps not only the huge ambitions of the Soviet State under Stalin, but records in amazing detail the ideological and artistic shifts that characterize the period.
The First Line, built in the early `1930's, possesses an invigorating modernism that is a high-water mark of the Soviet avant-garde. With the Second Line, built in the late 1930's, a program of monumental sculpture and art was introduced that signaled Stalin's stranglehold on the ideological goals of the Soviet state. The Third Line, built during the "Great Patriotic War" from 1939 - 1944, became a symbol of Soviet tenacity and ultimately a memorial to the people's resistance during this devastating period. The Fourth Line, completed in 1954 shortly after the death of Stalin, is perhaps the most flamboyantly ideological and represents the epitome of the leader's vision for the Metro. With the demise of Stalin, the expression of the system reverted to its rationalist origins.
Although constructed by a tyrant for a people living in terror, this subterranean proletarian paradise offers an ironically humane vision of public social space, both beautiful and functional. Today, with construction continuing, the Moscow Metro covers over 200 kilometers of track and serves 9 million people each day.