asked me if I was not proud to be starting
construction of the first Communist City in the world, and I said that
- Allan Austin
The largest project under Stalin's first five-year plan, and perhaps the most challenging, was the race to build Europe's largest automobile factory and an adjacent city in just eighteen months. The site chosen was Nizhny Novgorod, later named Gorky, near the Volga River, 500 miles east of Moscow. To design and construct both factory and city, Soviet officials approached the premier industrial builder in America, The Austin Company of Cleveland, Ohio.
Allan Austin, son of the president of The Austin Company, was the youngest of twenty American engineers supervising construction of this Russian city. He wrote many letters to his father and took photographs detailing the struggles involved in this vast undertaking.
Author Richard Cartwright Austin uses his father's letters, Russian and American documents, and extensive photographic resources to tell how this cooperation between capitalist and communist, American and Russian, was achieved. From near-breakdown during the initial months, through a Russian winter that called for bravery and ingenuity, to a frantic race toward completion in the final months, Building Utopia reveals the humanity of both communists and capitalists and the contrasts between Russian and American cultures.
During the Russian winter, workers used heated bricks and heated cement.