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From Russia with (no) Love

July 3, 2012

Vladivostok! It’s apparently Soviet/Russia week here on Burrito Justice, and as you will see the news has given us interesting Vladivostokian material to discuss.

Has anyone been to Vladivostok? Noodling around on Google Maps, it is a city of hills situated on the tip of a peninsula on the Pacific, separated by a bay from the coast. Sound familiar?


The Tenderloin Geographic Society points out all we know of Vladivostok via the high-quality English Russia archives.

To give you some perspective, I’ve aligned Google Maps on the same scale — I rotated the Vladivostok maps to better emphasize the rather similar peninsular alignment:


If you zoom in, you can see a bridge under construction at the Golden Gate analog (something they call the “Eastern Bosphorus”):


This is a billion dollar bridge connecting Vladivostok to Russky Island, a former military base that is being converted into a university and will be hosting the APEC summit there this autumn. It’s supposed to be the longest cable-stayed bridge in the world – the main span is 1104 meters. But the main span of the GGB is 1200 meters, so that takes care of that. Nice bridge though!

From the Rusmost website (site in English):






Those towers are taller than Sutro!

English Russia has some nice shots of the bridge nearing completion.

Like any big construction project, controversy and drama surrounds the bridge. These kids climbed up on top of it. Note the pylons are 330 meters, about 90 meters higher than the GGB!

Yikes. They apparently got fined $6.

While I don’t have the details, the Guardian notes:

It’s got rolling hills and a seaside view. Now, with a gigantic new cable bridge, the far eastern city of Vladivostok has come one step closer to realising the dream of becoming Russia’s San Francisco.

Never mind the ubiquitous construction cranes or gangland-style killings, accusations of corruption and shoddy work – for now the city is basking in the glory of being home to one of the world’s longest suspension cable-stayed bridges.

Russian Prime Minister Medvedev presided over the bridges opening ceremonies on Monday, and he transmitted a couple of choice comments:

“Everything was correct,” Medvedev said at the ceremony, according to RIA-Novosti news agency, commenting on the bridge’s Russian contractors. “Foreigners can’t be trusted to do things well. Perhaps unfortunately, we can’t build houses, but we can definitely build such structures.”

(I know the Soviets Russians were all apartment block-happy, but if anyone can explain the house comment I’d love to know.)

However, here is the REALLY controversial part:

Vladivostok is probably better than San Francisco,” [Medvedev] said on Monday. “Nevertheless there are similarities that come to mind, because there is also an ocean, suspension bridges and the similar terrain.” In one last dig, he added: “Our people are definitely better.”

Time to rename Russian Hill! ENERGIZE THE BURRITO RAILGUN. I sure hope your precious bridge is carne asada-proof! ПРЕВЕД МЕДВЕД! (Or perhaps ПРЕВЕД БУРРИТО!)

(Though I must admit, all the Russian software developers I’ve worked with are awesome. Much less poopy that their hockey players.)

7 Comments leave one →
  1. Ben permalink
    July 3, 2012 5:58 pm

    Not sure if this has been discussed here before, but Lisbon is also a bizarro, upside-down San Francisco.

    Its geography includes two peninsulas separated by a narrow straight, connected by bridge that looks IDENTICAL to the GGB (same architects), numerous hills, and a populace that enjoys beer.

    • July 3, 2012 5:59 pm

      Yes! I’ve been there several times. Eerie!

      They have nicer smooth cobblestone sidewalks and streets though.

  2. July 4, 2012 9:53 am

    There seems to be a link between 4 cities shaping up here, with Vladivostok as the new wild card.

    San Francisco

    All four have narrow straits with a major bridge crossing
    SF & Lisbon are the sites of major inland deltas – apparently the only major ones in the world
    SF’s Golden Gate is named as a tip of the hat to Istanbul’s Golden Horn
    Vladivostok’s strait is named “Eastern Bosphorus Strait” – clearly a tip of the hat to Istanbul’s Bosphorus
    Finally, all four cities are quite hilly with steep streets.

  3. August 7, 2012 11:10 am

    Dang… The town I used to live in in Japan had ferries that went across the Sea of Japan to Vladivostok. One of my friends returned to Scotland by taking that ferry, then the Transsiberian Railroad, the lucky bastard. Now I’m thinking I shoulda visited.

    • August 7, 2012 5:59 pm

      Wasn’t that around Toyama? Were you also in JET? I was Hyogo-ken, and I totally regret not taking the Trans-Siberian (never mind heading to China).

    • August 7, 2012 9:41 pm

      Yes, I was on JET! It was Niigata, actually, just above Toyama. How funny, I didn’t expect anyone to have any idea where I was talking about. I am totally jealous of people who took the Trans-Siberian, but it’s less convenient for us Americans in that it doesn’t land us back at home at the end, so in that sense I’m glad I instead blew all my money on cosmetics shopping in Korea.


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