Saturday, September 7, 2013

The Tractor Factory

Even though this is a city of 1.5 million people, it's never a big surprise to see a tractor chugging down the street in broad daylight.

They'd sputter past our window all the time when we lived at the end of a metro line. I've got a video of one red tractor slowly making its way down the street, followed by a honking wedding procession of luxury cars. Tractors even show up on Pushkin street downtown, a stone's throw away from upscale restaurants and windows displaying designer label clothes.
It turns out there's actually a tractor factory here- the Kharkov Tractor Plant, in operation for the past 83 years. It's called ХТЗ (pronounced hay ta zay) and the nearby metro stop is named Tractor Factory. When I first moved to Kharkov and started asking questions about the city, students always labelled ХТЗ as:
a) a cheap residential area
b) a notoriously sketchy part of town
Above: Son, we're moving! Below: To ХТЗ!
Somehow I never made it to this metro stop, never explored these streets, until just the other weekend as Tanya and I headed back to our frequent hangout spot, the "Green Forest" park near the Proletariat metro station. (Beforehand, we stopped at the local supermarket as usual, to pick up snacks for the park. I didn't buy either of these, but it was exciting to see my first-ever "Snickers with almonds" and the only can of Dr. Pepper I've ever seen in Ukraine [for $3 a can!]).

It was August 22nd and the park was full of families. Parents chatted, children whirled around and tugged on sleeves, babies stared placidly from strollers. This was before the temperatures dropped, making it probably the last weekend this year that anyone under age 8 was allowed outside without an outrageously warm jacket.

When it came time to head back, we decided to aim for the Tractor Factory metro stop instead of Proletariat, which meant our afternoon looked something like this to all the spy satellites up there:

In Green Forst park, I noticed this Chernobyl memorial for the first time.

We went past the gorgeous Oleksander Church.

And, of course, the local Lenin statue (outside of a courthouse, I think?)...

as well as this impressive mural.

We reached ХТЗ just as the sun began to set, meaning the quality of photos that my little phone could take became even worse :p
But who cares, because we'd made it! There were a few minutes of light left to capture what lay ahead.

This marked a small area for parking

I've never lived in an industrial city before and it always amazes me to think of the number of factories in Kharkov. So far I've slunk around the outsides of a tractor factory, a tank factory, a yeast factory, a sausage factory, and a turbine factory, met a man who works in a margarine factory, and driven past a factory that produces aviation equipment. Wow! How many factories are there in Kharkov? Is it possible to tour any of them?
Some official looking building at the tractor factory

The Kharkov Tractor Factory has a nice website (even an English version!) that I enjoyed checking out. It was also cool to see their photos from last month's Sorochinsky Fair.

So, the next time you see a tractor, just think- maybe it was produced right here!


  1. You're right, there is District Court behind the Lenin. You were probably in a hurry while making Olexander's Church picture, here is a better one :p If you wan to see real industrial town, you should visit Dnipropetrovsk, Donetsk, Lugansk or Zaporizhzhia regions. There are towns with 75% and more working in the industry (not light one or food one, and not even "finishing" or "mostly scientific" like Malysheva, KhTZ, Shevchenko, Proton, KhAZ, PhED...)

    1. Wow, that is a nice photo : ) Yes, I definitely want to visit all of those places, probably starting with Donetsk!

  2. Thank you for your comments on my blog! I really enjoy yours too, and especially all the pictures that you take. I've only taken a handful of pictures because I never know how people/police will react to me whipping out a camera on the middle of the sidewalk. The funny thing is that I actually found your blog several months before I got to Kharkov — I stumbled upon it while I was Googling for information about the city. It's strangely comforting to know that there are other Americans in Kharkov. I assumed I was one of at most two or three :P
    Anyway, I would be glad to meet up with you to chat and to hear some of the wisdom/advice that I'm sure you've accumulated after living here for so long!
    До связи, Nile M.

    1. Hi Nile! I've really been enjoying reading your blog :) It would be great to meet up sometime and hear your stories first-hand. Please drop me a line at katherine at english-ghoti dot com when you're settled in and have some free time!