Thursday, 31 December 2009

New Year

This is a New Year's greetings card from 1979/1980 when Moscow was expecting to host Olympic games. Happy New year to everyone!

Sunday, 27 December 2009


In Soviet times Christmas was celebrated in private, making the New Year Eve the main public event of the year. And for this occasion a full table of food is a must. These are photos of sweets by factories Uzvara and Laima in Soviet Latvia.
Photos from Latinform archives, 1974, 1978 and 1980

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Good-bye Brivibas 32

Today the department of philosophy and history of Latvian University left its premises on Brivibas street in Riga. Financial crisis in Latvia is affecting also education - the department was forced to change the location in order to save on rental costs. It had resided in this house for the last 63 years. Next year perhaps some refurbished offices will ruin this historical place.
Photos by (c) Arnis Balcus

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Soviet Riga

Lately a large advert has been temporarily removed from one of the walls near railway station in Riga, uncovering city's coat of arms from Soviet times. It is not easy to notice the difference because nowadays the arms looks quite similar - the star at the top is replaced with cross and two lions have joined on both sides.
Photo by (c) Arnis Balcus

Friday, 18 December 2009


Talsi is known as the town of nine hills and two lakes and is one of most beautiful and calm towns in Northwest Latvia, some 120 km from Riga. It has a lot of old wooden houses, small quiet streets, shabby shops and a few Soviet time symbols, such as the "Kursa" sign for the supermarket, or even older signs - in the second photo from the bottom one can spot a shop ad from Tsar times covered with another sign of "Talsi consumer society" from 1920s or 1930s.
Photos by (c) Arnis Balcus

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Rio cinema

In the boom of British cinema Hackney had 23 cinemas. Today only one has survived - Rio cinema in Dalston. This year the one of most popular independent cinemas in London is celebrating its 100th birthday. In 1909, Clara Ludski, the owner of an auctioneer's shop at 105 Kingsland High Street, recognised the growing potential of moving pictures and converted her shop into a 175-seat electric picture house. It was then called the Kingsland Palace and was among the first full-time cinemas.
Photos by (c) Arnis Balcus

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Hammer & sickle in Vienna

Communist symbols hammer and sickle can be spotted even in Vienna, Austria.
Photos by (c) Arnis Balcus

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Socio-realism in Albania

During Enver Hoxha's rule in Albania social realism in arts was practiced just like in Soviet Union. Perhaps even more enthusiastically. For instance, the mosaic in the top image is not created of coloured glass pieces as usually you would expect, but of small stones of natural colour.
Photos by (c) Arnis Balcus

Sunday, 25 October 2009


St.Petersburg has dozens of Soviet Union staff, from statuesques to manhole caps, which sometimes can make you feel as if the difference between Leningrad and St.Petersburg is only the name.
Photos by (c) Arnis Balcus

Friday, 16 October 2009

Pioneer street

While walking down the Pioneer street (ulica Pionerov) in St.Petersburg you can observe a few pioneer stars on the houses.
Photos by (c) Arnis Balcus

Monday, 12 October 2009


It is hard to guess if this glass-cutter workshop still exists. The ad found in Teika, Riga suggests that the workshop resides in another district in Purvciems, Riga. 6-digit number makes it at least 15 years old (nowadays Latvia has 8 digit numbers).
Photo by (c) Arnis Balcus

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Old Ventspils

Ventspils is a coast town in West Latvia, considered wealthy, tidy and boring place. These are a few photos of the city centre that slightly compromise this image - old signs of fishermen's club and hospital, street water pump, weird old house and closed glass bottle recycling point.
Photos by (c) Arnis Balcus