The Urals is Russia’s main industrial region. Most settlements here were built around plants and for plants. Mass plant construction began here back in the 17th century in the days of Peter I. Further major waves of industrialization occurred in the 1930s and during the WWII when factories from the European part of the USSR were evacuated to the Urals. Some factories gave start to large cities that exist today, others became out of date and disappeared or can be seen as ruinous dams in some villages. Labor and factories were the core, the destiny of the Urals and to some extent this is true even today.
In 1990s the country endured a tremendous upheaval and many factories collapsed or were plundered. Today we see the beginning of the post-industrial era which brings about new guidelines and manufacturing technologies. Many Ural factories and, as a consequence, towns and people are undergoing a crisis. Some factories close down; others reduce production rates; the least in number renovate their production process in accordance with the modern standards. The problem of one-factory towns is especially urgent in the Urals – when the factory is closed down it is death sentence for the whole town as well. Almost every Ural settlement is filled with the remnants of former plants, mines, open pits, quarries, factories which hover over people’s everyday life like smog.