A year in Dnepropetrovsk

An American volunteer in Ukraine

Where in the world is Кармен Сэндиего?

Carmen Sandiego hopped on a plane headed to Dnepropetrovsk, the third largest city in Ukraine. 1.1 million people live within the city, and 1.8 million live in the Dnepropetrovsk metro area. It is located in the eastern half of the country, where Russian and not Ukrainian is the spoken language. Originally called Yekaterinoslav, the name was changed in 1926, seven years after it was incorporated in the Soviet Union. In the 20s, the new Red economic policy led to the rapid growth of factories in the city and a flourishing economy. In 1951, however, Stalin closed the city after converting many of those factories into ballistic missile factories. Just like Willy Wonka’s factory, nobody went in, and nobody came out. It did not even appear on the map. The Dnepropetrovsk football team played in a stadium a few miles outside of the city borders. It was not until 1987 that the city was reopened. Since then, it has been growing at a tremendous pace! Whereas ten years ago Dnepropetrovsk was a poor, desolate town with broken down buildings and ramshackle houses, today the city center is a modern metropolis with an impressive new skyline. Dnepropetrovsk is the fashion capital of Ukraine, as evidenced by the many stores and malls ironically located along Karl Marx Prospect. While areas outside the center still resemble the Dnepropetrovsk of old, the city’s thriving economy and rapid renaissance bode well for the future.

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