Back in 1914, when the Russian Empire fought Germany in World War I, St. Petersburg - which bore a German-style name - was renamed Petrograd, in order to sound more Russian. And, although it was not touched by the fighting, the city had reflected what was happening, with troops heading off to the front, seen everywhere. Many women joined the ranks of the "Sisters of Charity", and instead of fashionable hats had now worn something almost resembling a nun's habit and shawls. Even the Winter Palace, the main royal residence, was converted into an officers' hospital - its luxurious ballrooms now housing beds with the wounded.
Amidst all this madness of 1917, revolutionary unrest began to grip the city. (Read more about the actual causes and course of the revolution here). The military failures at the war front and the pessimistic sentiments in Russia were compounded by a food crisis: a bread riot and anti-war demonstrations had begun in the city.
Women workers were among the first to go on strike and demonstrate. Mass demonstrations demanded, among other things, suffrage for women. Huge crowds of demonstrators gathered on downtown Nevsky and Liteyny avenues, and Cossack units were charged with suppressing the unrest. They built barricades and shot at the crowds. The soldiers of the Preobrazhensky Regiment were also ordered to suppress the revolution. However, many ended up siding with the protesters.
This was actually the events of the first - February - Revolution. The imperial emblem, the two-headed eagle, was covered on the bars of the Winter Palace.
In March Nicholas II abdicated the throne, and from then until the summer, he and his family had been under house arrest at his residence at Tsarskoye Selo. Thereafter, they would be exiled to the Urals. After the tsar's abdication, many military units swore allegiance to the Provisional Government.
The revolutionaries were happy to appropriate royal property, such as Nicholas’s sled car.
Following the February Revolution, security measures in the city were stepped up. The Nevsky was patrolled by a cavalry detachment.
Residents were randomly checked for identification.
April 1917, the Bolsheviks were still struggling to maintain power. They staged a demonstration on Palace (Dvortsovaya) Square, selling the party newspaper, Pravda.
Public speeches by various revolutionary forces became popular. The photo shows a demonstration at St. Isaac's Cathedral.
The first large-scale demonstration marking Labor Day was held.
Demonstrators outside the luxurious Astoria Hotel.
Demonstration on the Trinity (Troitsky) Bridge on the Neva River.
And on Liteiny Bridge.
The people were also increasingly dissatisfied with the Provisional Government, which was refusing to pull Russia out of the war, and was unable to restore order to the country. On July 1, 1917, about half a million people participated in a demonstration against the government, many chanting "Time to end the war!" and "All power to the Soviets!"
The anti-government uprising was also provoked by a failed offensive of the Russian army at the front. At the same time, troop units were recalled to Petrograd to suppress the uprising.
The troops brutally suppressed the uprising by shooting peaceful demonstrators.
Military armored cars appeared in Petrograd. Lenin, who had returned from exile, appeared before the crowd in a similar Austin automobile. 'Lenin on an armored car' became one of the symbols of the revolution - although some scholars doubt the authenticity of this episode.
The storming of the Winter Palace, the seat of the Provisional Government, is considered the key event of the October Revolution. The Bolsheviks overthrew the Provisional Government and declared their authority.
The cadet units, who had been defending the Winter Palace, sided with the insurgents.
In addition to the cadets, the Winter Palace was guarded by the Women's Battalion (pictured below).
Soldiers, sailors and workers entered the palace, looting and ransacking.
The October Revolution saw chaos in the streets, with alarmed people coming out to see what was happening.
Patrol on the Red Bridge.
The Smolny Institute for Noble Maidens became a true symbol of the revolution. This building became the headquarters of the Bolsheviks.
The Smolny under guard.
Red Guard brigades appeared in the city to restore order.
The Bolsheviks led Russia out of the First World War and concluded the long-awaited peace. The occasion led to demonstrations in Petrograd, welcoming peace and the socialist revolution. Everyone had been oblivious to the fact that the bloody Civil War was just around the corner.
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