The October Revolution was almost bloodless. However, when the subsequent rebellion of cadets was suppressed, many young men (and Jews cadets among them) were killed. Besides, many Petrograd dwellers were shot when they organized a demonstration to support the Constituent Assembly dispersed by the Bolsheviks. The number of victims grew very quickly. In the summer of 1918, after L. Kanegisser had killed the head of the Petrograd Cheka, M.S. Uritsky, the Red Terror struck Petrograd. The Bolsheviks occupied the City Duma and appointed M.I. Kalinin as its head. Soon after, the Duma was reorganized into the Department of Municipal Management of the Petrograd Soviet. On March 10, 1918, the capital was removed to Moscow; and in Petrograd, the Petrograd Labor Commune was founded; its executive body was the Soviet of Commissars. After May, 1918, Petrograd became the center of the Union of Communes of the Northern Region, which united 6 provinces. G.E. Zinovyev became the all-powerful dictator of Petrograd.
The immediate results of the Bolshevik dictatorship and the Civil War were hunger and a shortage of fuel. Most Petrograd enterprises stopped. Public transport was virtually paralyzed. City-dwellers received a food allowance insufficient for mere survival. The Provisional Groups that confiscated so-called "excesses of provisions" in the countryside could not provide the city with provisions. Many city-dwellers moved to villages or to more "sated" provinces to escape starvation. Many of those who stayed in Petrograd died of hunger, cold, and epidemics. Those who belonged to the so-called "exploiter class" - aristocracy, clerks, businessmen, educated people who did not collaborate with the Bolsheviks - suffered especially. As a result of so-called "consolidation", they lost their apartments. Their lives underwent tragic changes, and they were under the constant threat of repression.
In Petrograd, all attempts by political parties and trade unions to resist the Bolsheviks dictatorship openly were suppressed by the middle of 1918. During 1919, the White North-West Army lead by General Yudenich approached Petrograd twice, and failed both times. However, the creative life of the Petrograd intelligentsia continued even under the conditions of a tough struggle for survival. This was their resistance to Bolshevism. House of Literary Men, founded in 1918, helped them to survive; it saved them not only from death from starvation or cold, but from a spiritual vacuum as well. From 1918-1920, such periodicals as The House of Litterateurs' Chronicle, Book Corner, and Dreamers' Notes were published. From 1918 to 1922, the Free Philosophy Association existed. In 1918-1924, the "World Literature" publishing house brought together numerous creative individuals who did not wish to serve the new regime.
The intense cultural life of Petrograd in 1918-1922 was associated both with Silver Age representatives and with the younger generation. The latter grouped around the House of Arts, founded in 1920. In general, until 1922, the creative intelligentsia retained their spiritual independence in spite of the famine and the terror. The Soviet government's relations with scientists were rather flexible that time. The Academy of Sciences collaborated with the new government, retaining its independence. In autumn, 1918, scientists were qualified as members of the first provision category. In 1920, in Petrograd, the Commission of Scientists' Welfare and the House of Scientists were established. In 1918, the Optical Institute (at the initiative of D.S. Rozhdestvensky) and the Physics and Technology Institute (at initiative of A.F. Ioffe) were opened.
Despite victory in the Civil War, the Bolshevik dictatorship was dead-locked. In the spring of 1921, unrest began among Petrograd workers and Kronshtadt rebelled. The actions of the workers and sailors were cruelly suppressed. Some part of intelligentsia was repressed, too. Among the participants in the so-called Tagantsev Plot who were shot was N.S. Gumilev. In spite of the New Economic Policy, the Bolsheviks increased their ideological pressure in all areas of life. In 1922, the first ship removed abroad a group of Russian philosophers and writers who had retained their spiritual independence from Communism. They were deported from Soviet Russia for their independence. Voluntary societies that had renewed their activities after the Civil War were closed. On January 26, 1924, just after the death of Lenin, Petrograd was renamed Leningrad.
In the years of the New Economic Policy, permission to conduct business, however partial and limited it was, revived the city very soon. The famine ended. Plants and factories began working again. The Petrograd port began taking in ships. Public transport began working. Many cafes, restaurants, and cinemas were opened. At the same time, mass unemployment began. The slums were full of homeless children. Those who returned from the war could not find any jobs and became criminals. In September 23, 1924, a terrible natural disaster happened in Leningrad - the greatest flood of the last 100 years. It caused great property damage and even some losses of life. It was at that time that the city lost its legendary wood pavement.
The disasters which Petrograd suffered were reflected in many works by contemporaries, who chronicled the fate of their devastated city. The dying star Petropol was chanted by O. Mandelshtam. The Pushkin House was the subject of A. Blok's final poem. M. Zenkevich wrote of Petrograd streets overgrown with grass in his memoir, "Elga". "The Rat-Catcher", a story by A. Grin is set in an abandoned bank.
At the same time the new generation of writers started their activity in Petrograd. Some of them were members of N. Gumilev's circle, and others belonged to the "Serapion's Brothers". After the revolution Petrograd streets and squares were transformed to a stage of new art performances. Mayakovsky's play "Misteria Buff" decorated by the author was performed on the Palace square (it had been renamed after Uritsky).
The attack against Winter Palace on October 25, 1917. A still of the movie "October". 1927