He was deeply sure that the city is called upon to teach and educate its residents. Atmosphere of love, mutual understanding and kindness should dominate in them . He managed to do it. Now, most of the people confess that during that period when the chariman of Yerevan city council was Grigor Hasratyan, the psychology of metropolitan residents was formed in Yerevan.
From his childhood Grigory Asratyan often recalled the story of pencils.
. He moved to live in Yerevan after finishing his second year in school in his native village Akhlatyan. His uncle, a famous historian and philologist Morus Hasratyan- surrounded the boy with care. He tried to get him used to the city life, arranged a school after Myasnikyan for him, which was considered the best in the capital during that time. Famous painter Taragros taught him painting at school. During his classes, the students not only learned the basics of the subject, but also studied the world of painting in depth.The painter even taught the children to the difficult art of fresco. Once Grigor told his uncle that he failed the class, because he could not complete the assignment. The reason was that he didn’t have high quality pencils and thin feathers. Listening to his nephew, the uncle approached the desk, wrote something on paper and said: “Go to the People’s house (currently Opera and ballet building) . In the wooden hut you will find Mr. Mazmanyan, you will tell him that it is from me and give it to him”. At the time (after the death of Alexander Tamanyan) general plan of Yerevan was headed by the architect Mikayel Mazmanyan. The construction of the building was in its peak. Grigor saw the wooden hut, inroduced himself and gave him the letter. Mikhayil Davidovich read it carefully and gave a pencil, paper, feather and other painting attributes to the boy. .In memory of Grigor, noble appearance of the architect remained for a long time, which made him the owner of the “fortune”. And once he asked his uncle “How can I thank this man”, Morus smiled. “Dont worry, my son, time will come and you will express your gratitude” . After a few days he came home nervous, somehow strangely looked at the boy and said quietly: “They took your Mazmanian away.”
It happened in 1937.
In december 1957 Gurgen Pahlevanyan, Chairman of the Executive Committee of the City Council called Grigor Hasratyan “The government decided to establish project institute for urban debelopment. You have the honor of becoming the first leader”. In 1958, “YerevanProject” was opened where the best architects of the capital gathered. Here hot debates took place, new ideas were born, actual problems were discussed . The young talented architects had an honorable mission to build their city. Shortly the glory of the Institute reached Moscow, the projects developed by Armenian city planners were repeatedly awarded the highest prizes at all-union competitions and reviews. Experts from the capital of Soviet Union came to Yerevan for the experience exchange.
Once the secretary entered the room of Grigor Ivanovich and reported that someone sitting in the at the waiting room wants to talk to him. He look very sorry, does not say his name or last name and wants to get a job.
“A poorly dressed man entered the room, introduced himself as an architect, later Hasratyan remembered. I look at him with little distrust, because I knew all the architects of the city. I asked him “What is your last name”, and heard “Mazmanyan”. This one word and I went back to the past. He built the opera, wooden huts, stately man. However, there was not a trace left from his charm. I told him immediately: “Starting from tomorrow, you are hired”, “Should I fill in the application?”, he asked. “In 1937 you were taken away by your own statement?” Right after the meeting, Asratyan went to the head of the design department Georgy Murza and said that from the next day he will be the deputy and that Mr. Mazmanyan will be the head of the department. Murza was very happy that he will be working with Mikhail Davidovich.
Mayor of two cities
Once while working in “Yerevan Project” institute, came an assistant to First Secretary of the Communist Party Central Committee Yakov Zarubyan and said that they are waiting for him. We came down. Zarubyan was sitting in one of the cars. They didn’t explain anything to Hasratyan. They only told him that they are going to Leninakan. “I am not even dressed properly” he thought. We drove for a long time in silence. Zarubyan broke the silence. “We want to appoint you the Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Leninakan City Council “.
Meanwhile, the residents of Leninakan – the second largest city of Armenia – were known as very ambitious people and Asratyan’s appointment was hostile: what, in the city did not find any worthy candidacy that “our master” should be a person who came from Yerevan ?!
Zarubyan decided to somehow calm them down. “Let’s make an agreement”. After 6 months I will come back. If you don’t like him, we will take him back to Yerevan”. Said and done. After half a year he came back and started to ask the residents of the city about their problems, concerns. Then he asked if there was anything good in the city. “Yes, and he is our chairman of the City Executive Committee, they told him. But everyone was waiting again for Grigor Hasratyan in the capital . His appointment to the post of chairman of the City Council of Yerevan was taken for granted. As he started to work in the same system since his early youth. And he perfectly knew and loved the city which he considered the best on earth.
City of new life
Contemporaries were amazed at his endurance. Hasratyan could work day and night. However anything new proposed by him was accepted with hostility. So, he was accused of nationalism, when instead of small street Lermontov, avenue after Sayat Nova, in honor of folk singer “ashugh” opened”. Letters, newspapers came for down to authorities. Grigor Ivanovich went on a compromise-part of the street was called after famous Russian poet. But the anger didn’t go away. After Swan Lake appearance, one of the newspapers wrote “Disgusting ulcer appeared in the center of Yerevan, and it needs immediate treatment. Fountains on Shahumyan street (presently Vazgen Sargsyan) were also not liked. The official opening of the the fountains took place during the celebration of 2750th anniversary of Erebuni-Yerevan -and “Kom park” close to the theater after Sundukyan, and new buildings in the streets after Abovyan, and many more . But Hasratyan did not pay attention to the dissatisfactions. He created the city of new culture, new life .
Young musicians, architects, painters, writers, filmmakers didn’t sleep on Yerevan nights. And how can you fall asleep in this wonderful city . At nights they got together in the parks, cafes, studios. And in the morning they met at the Philarmonic, meeting the dawn, sharing the impressions. The city woke up: the watering machines washed the streets, it smelt fresh and clean. Near the still closed shops, there were iron nets with the dairy products in them. Especially after sleepless nights there was need to eat. So “the midnight scamps” came close, took sour cream, cottage cheese, milk, yogurt and left money there. And no one even thought of getting the products for free: how can one steal or deceive himself. It is your city after all. The city is you.
Architect Levon Igityan remembers that once at 4am at night, сoming down from Matenadaran, he saw people at the corner of Lenin avenue and Isahakyan street, at the drinking fountain near the popular store Felo at that time. “I come closer, and see a group of famous doctors, physicists, architects of Yerevan. Among them I see Grigor Ivanovich. I listen to them. The mayor is reading Narekatsi”.
And once Grigor Ivanovich came to the studio of painter Minas Avetisyan at 3 am at night (everybody knew that it is always crowdy here even at this time), took out from his coat pocket a strange bottle. We sat, chatted, drank, then he stood up and said: “It is time to go. have to be at work since morning”. You are lucky guys because you are free” . Friends and colleagues have always been amazed at this man: he was able to combine bohemian life with the state service and meanwhile to communicate equally with every one-officials, workers, artists.
The mayor instructed the rose bushes and cherry trees to be planted alongside the avenue after Sayat Nova. In the morning they planted the news ones but they were stolen. And for a few months it was like that. In nurseries, where every morning seedlings were purchased, they laughed, saying “You quit his, they will still steal”. And when they complained to Hasratyan, he heard and said “I understand that it is disgraceful, but think where they are taking these roses? May be they put in their yards”. With cherry trees, everything was normal, no one attacked, even berries were not torn.
However, one day during the night walk on the avenue Sayat nova, Grigor Ivanovich saw two young people who conveniently located on the branches, ate cherries and chatted peacefully. Hasratyan came closer. His amazement was boundless – it turned out that the painter Minas Avetisyan and the art critic Henrik Igityan sat in the trees.
Night parties near the most popular places in Yerevan cafe “Poplavok” made people tired.
Many well-known people who lived near the “Poplavok” signed under the letters. Hasratyan repeatedly went out to “peace talks” with violators of tranquility, but, as a rule, to no avail. And once he invited the people who had signed under the letters, to personally bring apologies for causing inconvenience. They sat, discussed, treated themselves, but as they were leaving the office, Hasratyan stopped them ” Listen, they are young, they don’t have a day, they need more time to live… Is this punishable?”.
Hasratyan did not just walk around the city, he needed to know how and how the capital lives. The kindest person, in his work he was demanding and merciless.
The metro construction in Yerevan was going slowly. Then Hasratyan talked tough to the director of “Yerevan Project” and the chain reaction started, up to the lowest class.. So when Grigor Ivanovich called a meeting, the atmosphere got hot everyone tried to hide behind the back of the seated.. By the way, Hasratyan had the amazing ability to speak and his every speech turned out to be a real show. Participants of that memorable meeting still remember how calmly he began his speech ” Friends, I know very well the design process, I understand perfectly that architects dont have enough days. But if you dont start to work I will start to apply ultimate punishment. работать, мне придется применить к вам высшую меру наказания. Such in a history has not happened”. There was a deadly silence in the hall. В зале воцарилось гробовое молчание. There was a metal ringing in Hasratyan’s voice. «Photos of everyone are in the personnel department? In response, they nodded their heads. “Wonderful. i will take them and ask to show them on TV. Let the yerevan residents know what is holding back the metro construction in our city. And if you imagine what each of you has a family, relatives, neighbors, friends. Yes, relatives-mistresses. And how you all will look at their eyes? At that point he declared the end of the meeting but at the doorstep he turned back and said quietly “It’s a shame”.
A week went by. One of the engineers of “Yerevan project”, Ruben Arazyan, hurrying to work, holding the rolls with drawings, folders with projects met his classmate in the street. He convinced his friend to join him for coffee and Ruben told him, “I would with pleasure but you cannot even imagine what Hasratyan arranged for us. Already it has been a week we do not eat, do not drink and do not sleep , working hard. All of a sudden friends noticed that black “Volga” car passed by, backed up and stopped. Hasratyan came out of the car, looked at Ruben with reproach ” What are you doing my friend, instead of working, you stand in the street and discussing about me with the random pedestrians?”
Two story fantasy
When Grigor Hasratyan was a chairman of City Council from 1962-1975, Yerevan cleared of 45000 brick houses, and 95000 families received flats. This kind of construction pace the capital didn’t have before. Next to the monumental buildings summer cafes started to appear which gave the city a special charm, trees were planted along the perimeter of Lenin square illuminated by thousands of lights. Yerevan had unprecedented flow of tourists, who called the city “pink wonder of the world”.
During these years, Armenia became the cultural center of Caucasus, whereas Tiflis was considered the center at the beginning of the last century .
However, according to the mayor, serious errors could not be avoided. And it was not possible to realize the dream of Grigory Asratyan about the creation of two-story streets. It was almost a fantastic idea. The two story streets could have become innovative phenomenon in the history of urban development, but this required means and permission from the authorities. The first story was meant to be for the transportation, the second story-for the pedestrians. It was supposed to have all the monuments of famous great Armenians-from Mashtots to Sevak, and fountains as well. And yet, without interfering with each other, one of the sides of pedestrian streets had to have the classical music sound, the other-modern music. Unfortunately, it didn’t get to the projects and drawings, only a flight of fantasy, only an irrepressible desire to make Yerevan the best and most beautiful in the world.
Grigor Ivanovich Hasratyan (1918-2001) was born in village Akhlatyan (now Ashotavan) of Sisian region, Armenia .
In 1937 he graduate from Mining and Metallurgical vocational school, and in 1942, Yerevan Polytechnic Institute, with the civil engineer qualification
1940-1942yy. — teacher at Mining and Metallurgical vocational school
1942-1944yy. — engineer of Main Road Administration of highways (Yerevan)
1945-1947yy. — engineer of Ministry of Water Resources (Yerevan)
1947-1948yy. — chief engineer of Yerevan Plaster factory
1948-1950yy. — head of Building office of Lenin county council (Yerevan)
1950-1952yy. —deputy chairman of executive committee Lenin county council (Yerevan)
1952-1956yy— head of executive committee of Lenin county council (Yerevan)
1956-1958yy. — deputy chairman of executive committee of Yerevan city council
1958-1961yy. — director of the Institute “Yerevan Project”
1961-1962yy— representative of executive committee of Leninakan city council
1962-1975yy. — representative of executive committee of Yerevan city council
1975-1980yy. — deputy minister of Meat-dairy production of Armenian SSR
1980-1986yy. — head of the department of Monument Protection (Yerevan)
1987-1990yy. — director of Memorial complex Sardarabad battle and State Museum of ethnography of Armenia