May 27, 1703. Russia’s Tsar Peter the Great establishes the Peter and Paul Fortress (see picture), founding the city of St. Petersburg. A military victory over the Swedish in the Great Northern War gave Peter access to the Baltic Sea and he constructed the new city on and around the existing Swedish fort, Nyenschantz. St. Petersburg has twice been the capital of Russia, from 1713-1728 and again from 1732-1918. The city has had three names: Petrograd, to make it sound less German during World War I, and Leningrad from 1924 (three days after Lenin’s death) until 1991 (when voters decided in a referendum to give it its original name). It is also known as ‘the city of three revolutions’ as it was the birthplace of the Revolution of 1905 and the February and October revolutions that brought the Bolsheviks to power in 1917.
Also on May 27: The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco opens to traffic (1937); sinking of the German battleship ‘Bismarck’ (1941); Slobodan Milosevic indicted for war crimes by the ICC (1999).
Born on May 27: Christopher Lee (1922), Henry Kissinger (1923), Alain Souchon (1944), Ravi Shastri (1962), Jamie Oliver (1975).