During World War I (1914-1918), when everything German would grate on every Russian citizen’s mind and ear, the Russian government decided to change the capital’s name from the Germanic St. Petersburg to the Russian Petrograd. The involvement in the protracted war entailed total militarization of national economy, and contributed to its rapid exhaustion and therefore social and political unrest. By 1916, food supply deteriorated drastically, and the revolutionary process became irreversible. The social disturbance and wartime hardships culminated in the 1917 February Revolution, which ended in the abdication of Nicholas II – the last tsar in the history of Russia.
The situation continued to worsen throughout 1917. The Provisional Government’s ineffective methods resulted in total chaos and discord. On October 25, the socio-democratic Bolshevist party, headed by Vladimir Ulyanov (Lenin), overthrew the Provisional Government and arrested most of the ministers. The cruiser Avrora fired a blank shot to signal the storm of the Winter Palace.
Economic collapse and the brewing Civil War forced many city residents to leave Petrograd and settle in the countryside where food was more available. By 1920, Petrograd’s population decreased threefold.
Because the Germans were dangerously close to Petrograd and the national boundary got closer to the city due to the collapse of the Empire, Vladimir Lenin moved the capital to Moscow. Many streets and objects in Petrograd were named after famous revolutionary activists and events. Nevsky Prospekt was named Prospekt of October 25. Palace Named after a famous Communist activist, Palace Square became Uritsky Square.
The New Economic Policy instituted after the Civil War contributed to a relative betterment of the situation, and the city began to recover from the recent social, political and economical upheavals.