A map of 1737 shows that the famous Nevsky Prospect was first called "Great Perspective Road", it was the main thoroughfare of the city and a main artery for commerce and transportation. The development of the Nevsky Prospect throughout the 18th and 19th century represented the evolution of the city from one dominated by the Imperial Court to a vibrant economic center and the main industrial center for the county. The broad avenue was considered one of the finest in Europe and in 1900 it's architecture represented a virtual timeline of building styles from the beginning of the city until it's twilight at the time of the revolution.
The Nevsky Prospect began at the Admiralty building on the Neva River and ended at the Alexander Nevsky Monastery. Between the two were many monuments that continue to enchant the visitor. Palaces, theatres, libraries, cathedrals, insurance companies, banks, stores and apartments lined both sides of the street. As the prime retail street in the city it attracted the aristocracy and peasants alike; smart stores stood alongside inexpensive food stores that catered to workers, Imperial theaters hosted the latest French comedies nearby inexpensive movie houses showing the latest from English, French and American movie studios. Rents on Nevsky, high to begin with, were very costly the closer one got to the Winter Palace. In 1874 the famous French author Théophile Gautier claimed the rents on Nevsky were as high as they were on the fashionable Boulevard des Italiens in Paris.