West of the Kriukov Canal, between the Moika and Fontanka, lay an extensive area known in Old St. Petersburg since the middle of the eighteenth century as Kolomna.
The Kriukov Canal, Kolomna’s eastern boundary, is one of the city’s oldest: its northern section extending from the Neva to the Moika was constructed in 1719. It was named after its building contractor. In the 1780s the canal was extended southward as far as the Fontanka, following an old street, past the belfry of the Nikolsky (St. Nicholas’s) Cathedral.
Its banks were walled with granite, and the old wooden bridges began to be replaced with new and more durable structures whose timber beams rested on masonry piers embellished with lamp-posts of graceful design.
One of the first to be built in the 1780s was the Matveyev Bridge spanning the canal at its confluence with the Moika. The Pikalov Bridge, which appeared in the same period, spanned the Griboyedov Canal at its confluence with the Kriukov Canal.
During the current century more durable metal girders were laid on the piers of the Matveyev and Pikalov Bridges, but the general lines of both remained practically unchanged and the old lamp-posts were retained. Those on the Pikalov Bridge are particularly striking, built in the shape of graceful obelisks of granite.
In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries five new triple-span bridges appeared on the Kriu-kov Canal, similar in composition and design to the earlier two. All five were rebuilt considerably later, steel girders replacing the timber beams of the Decembrists’ (former Officers’), Torgovy, Old Nikolsky and Smezhny Bridges.
As to the Kashin Bridge, it was completely reconstructed in 1932; now it has a single arch of reinforced concrete, whose flowing contours set off the swift upward thrust of the St. Nicholas’s Cathedral belfry.
In the 1950s and early 1960s three metal footbridges were added to the picturesque series that spanned the Kriukov Canal. These were the Krasnoflotsky (Red Navy) Bridge over the Moika near a group of buildings known as New Holland; the Krasnogvardeisky (Red Guards) Bridge over the Griboyedov Canal at its confluence with the Kriukov Canal; and the Kras-noarmeisky (Red Army) Bridge over the Fontanka near the mouth of the canal.
The fine lines of the new bridges and their architectural finish faithfully done in the “Old St. Petersburg” style helped integrate them unobtrusively in the general architectural scheme of Old Kolomna.
An on-line compilation of a photographic study of the bridges in Leningrad (the former name of Saint Petersburg), published by Aurora Art Publishers, Leningrad, 1975.