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The New York Times, June 7, 1903, p.4:

KISHINEFF AS A CITY

Far from a Bad Place to Live In, Except for a Jew.

An Active Trade Centre Where Fairs Are Held Twice a Week--
Famous for its Plums.

    So great has been the interest of the public in the recent massacre in Kishineff [now Kishinev or Chisinau or Chişinău, Moldova] that little or no attention has been given to the physical characteristics of the place. And yet there are men over in the east side who have lived in Kishineff and say that in may ways it is quite unlike any other city in the world.
    One of these men, who was in Kishineff not a great while ago and who took sufficient interest in it to learn much of its history, told yesterday of some of its most remarkable features. Judging from the way he spoke of it Kishineff is not at all a bad place to live in—that is, for any one but a Jew.

    Altogether the most attractive part of the city, according to the description of the former inhabitants, are the wonderful gardens in the suburbs. These gardens occupy no less than 12,000 acres, which is about nineteen square miles. The fertility is not excelled anywhere, and it is said to be a rare occurrence for a crop of anything to fail.
    The chief product of these rich acres are fruits and that kind of vegetables which in America is associated with the word "trucking." Immense quantities of wine comes from the vineyards of the gardens of Kishineff. And many of the expensive foreign cigarettes smoked by people here in New York are made of tobacco that was raised in these same fields.

    But of all things for which the Bessarabian capital is noted, said this informant with a reminiscent smacking of the lips, the plums are the most deserving. They are dried and exported, going to Odessa or some Mediterranean port, and are famous all over southeastern Europe.

    "For many months of the year," he continued, "the climate of Kishineff is just about like that of Southern California is said to be, but we had some pretty cold weather, though it didn't last long. The coldest month has an average temperature of about twenty and thirty degrees Fahrenheit, and in the hottest month it is never over seventy-five degrees."

    The formation of the city is very striking and unusual. The old, or lower town is on the banks of the river Byk, a tributary of the Dniester, and the new, or high town, is on high crags rising in some places to nearly 500 feet above the level of the river.
    It is doubtful if any town in Russia, the nation of fairs, has more of them than has Kishineff. Twice a week they occur, and the yearly returns from them amount to something like $1,500,000. Trade is exceedingly active, and with every year it becomes more important, Kishineff being the chief centre of the Bessarabian commerce in tallow, grain, and countless other articles.

    Though the recent outrages perpetrated there inevitably create the impression that Kishineff is in a very primitive stage of civilization, such is far from true. Whatever may be the character of many inhabitants, and however villanous and cruel they may have proved themselves, their city is very rich in some things that are usually considered adjuncts of civilization.
    For instance, the schools are said to be very good, and there are several theatres, magnificent Turkish baths, large markets, especially for cattle and corn, and eighteen or twenty churches. The river Byk, winding in and out among the hills and crossed by several bridges, with the fertile fields lying in the low part of the town, presents a picture, the travelers say, far from unpleasant.

    The population is something between 110,000 and 120,000, and is growing steadily. The railroad from Odessa to Jassy, in Roumania, passes through Kishineff, which is only about 120 miles northwest of the former city.
    Kisineff is the seat of the Archbishopric of Bessarabia, and has an ecclesiastical seminary with nearly 1,000 students, besides a college and several secondary schools. Steam flour mills, candle and soap works, distilleries, tobacco factories--all these are in the interesting city.
    The streets, however, it is said, are mostly unpaved, and the buildings are plain.

    Although it is a matter of history several hundred years old now, the way in which the immediate vicinity of Kishineff has been the home of so many different peoples is particularly interesting in view of the late race troubles.
    Far back, almost before history began, the Cymri and Scythans lived there. They were ousted by the Geti, who in turn were conquered by the Roman Emperor Trajan. In the third century A. D. came the Goths, recently become Christians; later the Huns, then the Avars and Bulgarians, then Slavonians, then the Bessi, from whom the name Bessarabia is taken.
    And so it went on, one nation coming and ousting the other. Even now there are two gypsy villages in which about 9,000 gypsies live.

    All these names are only part of those of the nations that came, and now it would probably take an ethnologist endowed with supernatural powers to determine the genealogy of the people of Kishineff.

Memoirs of a Russian Governor,
    By Sergi︠e︡ĭ Dmitrievich Urusov, 1908, p.96:


VIII

Kishinev society — Customs and habits.

    GENERAL KAULBARS, successor to the late Count Musin-Pushkin as Governor-General of Odessa, once at my house told how, twenty-seven years before, he had been invited to dine at that same house by Shebeko, the then Governor. Driving up to the Governor's house, he saw through the lighted windows the guests already seated at table. His victoria had stuck in the mud right before the Governor's house, but Kaulbars, the dashing officer of the capital, could not bring himself to get out of his vehicle and plunge into the mire in all the glory of his cavalry top-boots and riding-breeches. He had to wait until a passing cart, drawn by two oxen, towed him to the Governor's porch. Thus he entered towards the end of the dinner.

    Kishinev since that time has changed beyond recognition. Alexander Street, where is located the house that once gave shelter to Alexander II. during the Turkish War, and where Kaulbars was so unfortunate with his dinner engagement, has changed from an outskirt to a central street. In twenty-five years a new town sprang up to the southwest, with elegant buildings and straight streets bordered by poplars and white acacias. The Noblemen's Boarding-school, the house of Princess Vyazemski, the Second Girls' High School, the Zemstvo Museum, the new building of the Provincial Board, the Technical High School, and the First Boys' High School would have made no unfavorable impression even in the streets of St. Petersburg.
    The wide sidewalks were kept in good order, and the roadway was paved with slabs. The sidewalks along the main Alexander Prospect were so wide that the street-cars ran, not on the roadway, but along the edge of the promenade. Two theatres, one in the Pushkin Auditorium, the other in the Noblemen's Club, offered stage facilities not only to a permanent dramatic stock company, but also to starring actors from Odessa and elsewhere, who never missed us on their tours through southwest Russia.

    Kishinev had a population of one hundred and forty thousand, six government and six private intermediate schools, two theatres and several club-houses, a large municipal park with two restaurants and special grounds with an out-door theatre fitted up as a music-hall. All this shows that Kishinev was a city of no mean rank, and, compared with the provincial modesty of Tambov, to me it seemed even more important.
    Kishinev lacked but one thing to give it perfect beauty and make its summer heat and dust tolerable to those who had to stay in town, denying themselves the pure air and breezes of the sea-shore or the mountain woods, and this was an adequate water-supply. The Byk River, as mentioned before, had no water at all, while the springs feeding the city's water-works supplied about one hundred and fifty thousand vedros (405,000 gallons) a day—that is, a little more than one vedro (2.7 gallons) per head of population for drinking, washing, and for use in case of fire.

    I can easily stand heat, and so suffered but little. On my way to the government offices I would frequently be walking along deserted streets at 2 P.M. The daring, active, pedestrian Governor, braving sunstroke, attending to business at such an unpropitious hour, when Kishinev ladies in undress were refreshing themselves with jelly and ice-water, was an object of wonder to the fair gazers from behind closed shutters.
    Yet a kind of affectionate regard for the place one lives and works in, and that peculiar tendency in governors to make everything their business, more than once directed my attention to the question of the Kishinev water-supply. I used to sit down at a point near the family vault of the Katarzhi, which afforded an admirable view over the city, bathed in golden dust, or take a ramble to Dubin Square, another favorite haunt of mine, whence the outlines of the Carpathian Mountains may be seen looming in the distance, and at such times I would muse in a sentimental, Manilov-like mood of how useful it would be to convey water to Kishinev from the Dniester, eighteen versts away, and thus transform the city.
    What a pleasure it would be to possess great wealth! I could then contribute to the municipality as a memorial to my governorship two million rubles, the necessary amount for the Dniester water-works. But for "lack of an adequate surplus fund," as the official phrase has it, I had to confine my solicitude for the city's water-supply within more modest bounds.
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    Formerly ruled by Romania, Moldova became part of the Soviet Union at the close of World War II.
    Although independent from the USSR since 1991, Russian forces have remained on Moldovan territory east of the Dniester River supporting the Slavic majority population, mostly Ukrainians and Russians, who have proclaimed a "Transnistria" republic.
    The poorest nation in Europe, Moldova became the first former Soviet state to elect a Communist as its president in 2001.
    CIA World Factbook: Moldova


Area of Moldova: 33,843 sq km
slightly larger than Maryland

Population of Moldova: 4,324,450
July 2008 estimate

Languages of Moldova:
Moldovan official, a Romanian dialect
Russian, Gagauz a Turkish dialect

Moldova Capital: Chisinau


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  Free Books on Moldova (.pdfs)

The Moldovans King 1999 online only
Greater Roumania: Bessarabia Clark 1922
Memoirs of a Russian Governor Urusov 1908
The Voice of America on Kishineff Adler 1904
Out of Kishineff Stiles 1903

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    It was the custom of the local fire department, as ordered by the Chief of Police, to draw up in line on hot summer days before the Governor's mansion, and copiously flush its roof, walls, flower-beds, and garden, making the air around refreshing, cool, balmy, and pure. I had this fire drill done away with. Such economy of the city's water-supply was so favorably received by all that there was no reason to regret having dispensed with this comfort.

    I was at first somewhat surprised by the oddities of Kishinev society. I constantly fought against such as were manifest in their relations with the Governor. By the close of my stay in Bessarabia I was largely instrumental in instilling into the minds of Kishinev society the simple idea that the Governor, outside of his official capacity, may come and go like any common mortal. According to Kishinev convention, I was to go out exclusively in a carriage, escorted by a mounted guard, with the Chief of Police in the van. To walk or to go out shopping was on my part a grave breach of etiquette.
    Kishinevites, accustomed to a succession of military governors, at first stared in surprise at the plainness of my attire. My wife was equally censured because, ignorant of local customs, she visited the stores, selected the goods, and paid for them. It turned out that a lady must, in self-respect, drive up to a store, and have the salesmen take out samples of goods to her carriage. The goods thus ordered she must have delivered at her residence. It seems that fashion condemned cash on delivery, or, at any rate, ruled that it was far more in keeping with propriety not to make delivery payments or to be over-hasty in payments...

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