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The history of Saksaganskogo Street

Panas Karpovych Saksaganskyi (the real surname is Tobilevych) was born 150 years ago. He was an outstanding Ukrainian actor and a stage director, an honored artist of the USSR.

Kiev executives changed the name of Leonida Pyatakova Street to Panasa Saksaganskogo after the actor’s death in 1940. Actually, the history of renaming this street and many others is quite scandalous.

In the Soviet times names of numerous streets were repeatedly changed. Let’s take Yaroslaviv Val Street as an example. It got its name in 1869 in memory of the defensive rampart (Ukr. “val”) stretching along it in the XI century. Here is the chronology of renaming: 1923-1928 – Rakovskogo, 1928-1957 – Voroshylova, 1957-1962 – Polupanova, 1962-1975 – Velyka Pidvalna, and, finally, since 1976 – again Yaroslaviv Val.

The great artist

In the XIX century all three brothers Tobilevych, namely Saksaganskyi, Sadovskyi and Karpenko-Karyi, glorious leading figures of the Ukrainian theatre, started to work together after a long break in one troupe in the Theatre of brothers Bergonie (nowadays it is the place of Lesya Ukrainka Russian Drama Theatre). It was an associate society of artists under the leadership of the above-mentioned brothers. They succeeded in acting . It would be interesting to know that Saksaganskyi performed solely comic roles, for example, the role of Golokhvastov (the play “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush” (Ukr. “Za dvoma zaytsyamy”)), the role of Omelyan Grygorovych (the drama “Burlachka”), the role of Geraska (the vaudeville “After the inspection” (Ukr.“Po reviziyi”)) and the role of the huntsman Kharko (the play “Palyvoda of the XVIII century”).

The actor dwelled in Zhylyanska Street, in the building № 96. The memorial plaque with the years of his dwelling in Kiev (1912-1940) is placed on its front.

Zhylyanska (Zhadanovskogo) is situated at the distance of one quarter and parallel to Saksaganskogo Street. B.P. Zhadanovskyi was a participant of the revolution in Kiev in 1905-1907, a member of the Bolshevik party since 1917. He died in 1918 in Crimea at the times of warfare. At that time nobody would have dared to rename Zhadanovskogo Street, where Saksaganskyi dwelled and died in 1940. Present-day Saksaganskogo Street was called Velyka Zhandarmska on the old plan of Kiev at the end of XIX century. Then it was named Mariyino-Blagovischenska Street after the church, situated in the mansion № 64 and consecrated in 1893. And after the revolution the Street was named after Bolshevik Leonid Pyatakov, who died in 1918. Kiev residents started to name it Pyatakova Street. But in 1937 Pyatakov’s brother was shot as the public enemy, and the name was specified; new street signs appeared: “Leonida Pyatakova Street”.

When a famous artist Panas Saksagankyi died in 1940, the authorities decided to bury in oblivion Pyatakovs and to name the street after Saksaganskyi. The name remained till present days. And Zhadanovskogo Street, where the great actor spent his last days, got its pre-revolutionary name again, namely Zhylyanska.

Saksaganskogo Street changed greatly since those days. Kiev residents, whose childhood fell on the far post-war years, remember well that so-called Summer Circus was functioning successfully at the crossroads of Saksaganskogo and Chervonoarmiyska Streets. But in 1960 there was built a stationary brick building of the circus with 2000 seats on Victory Square (Ukr. Ploscha Peremogy), projected by the architect V.A. Zhukov. Built at the place of the former Jewish market, it turned to be the true decoration of the city.

Elderly residents also keep in mind a cosy cinema “Raketa”, situated at the end of Saksaganskogo Street at that time, in the building №102. It was closed soon, but at the beginning of the street in 1974 a new four-storey building of the “Cinema House” was built. There were 3 cinema halls (with 50, 150 and 720 seats), a library, a café and etc. Unfortunately, tram ways were removed from here; tram was inseparably linked with the street in the memory of some generations of residents.

But let’s come back again to the post-war times of the street. The last quarter. Odd numbered side. The Jewish Market is not far from and still not closed. Captive Germans are building the penicillin plant. It stands still here, though gloomy and grey.

There was a smell of penicillin for a long period here – a smell of childhood for people, who grew up at these places.

I remember those small wares shops, where powders “Carnation” and “Red Poppy”, creams “Youth” and “Strawberry”, perfumes “Silver Lily of the Valley” and “Red Moskov” were sold.

Here is the kindergarten in the courtyard in Tarasivska Street (it crosses Saksaganskogo Street). There are a wooden mushroom (white circles on the red background), a ship “Aurora” made of boards and a green lorry in the yard. There are yards with washing tubs and hanging linen. Here everybody knew each other.  Here people were always together both in grief and happiness…

According to the materials of the book “The forgotten pages of Kiev life” written by Vilaliy Bakanov

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