3. Kiev: Dreaming in the Victorian 1880s

Francis Wcislo

in Tales of Imperial Russia

Published in print March 2011 | ISBN: 9780199543564
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191725104 | DOI:
3. Kiev: Dreaming in the Victorian 1880s

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This chapter tells of a railroad executive in Ukraine's capital city Kiev, who rose to prominence in the railroad business and dreamt of technology, geographical expanse, and imperial grandeur. Amidst a public life that mixed a potent brew of managerial expertise and proto-technocratic power, Witte experienced his career in a Victorian frame, a world where increasingly intellect, talent, business, and technology bred male professional expertise in the ever larger corporate and governmental organizations that marked the later half of the 19th century. Critical to his life's story was the railroad, that most revolutionary of 19th-century communications technologies that constricted space and abbreviated time. By the 1880s, as the chief operations officer of the Southwestern Railroad, a privately owned but government subsidized joint stock company, Witte oversaw a freight and passenger network that directed the agricultural, mineral, and human resources of New Russia and Ukraine southwards toward the Black Sea, westwards toward the east-central European Danube river valley, northwards toward east central Europe and Great Russia, and eastwards toward the Volga River valley, and the vast spaces of Central Asia and Siberia beyond. That expansive space provided him visions of empire.

Keywords: Sergei Witte; railroad executive; Southwestern Railroad; New Russia; Black Sea; Kiev; Ukraine

Chapter.  20229 words. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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