IRKUTSK, the chief town of the above government, is the most important place in Siberia, being not only the largest centre of population and the principal commercial depot north of Tashkent, but a fortified military post, an archbishopric of the Orthodox Greek Church and the seat of several learned societies. It is situated in 52° 17' N. and 104° 16' E., 3792 M. by rail from St Petersburg. Pop. (1875) 32,512, (1900) 49,106. The town proper lies on the right bank of the Angara, a tributary of the Yenisei, 45 m. below its outflow from Lake Baikal, and on the opposite bank is the Glaskovsk suburb. The river, which has a breadth of 1900 ft., is crossed by a flying bridge. The Irkut, from which the town takes its name, is a small river which joins the Angara directly opposite the town, the main portion of which is separated from the monastery, the castle, the port and the suburbs by another confluent, the Ida or Ushakovka. Irkutsk has long been reputed a remarkably fine city - its streets being straight, broad, well paved and well lighted; but in 1879, on the 4th and 6th of July, the palace of the (then) governorgeneral, the principal administrative and municipal offices and many of the other public buildings were destroyed by fire; and the government archives, the library and museum of the Siberian section of the Russian Geographical Society were utterly ruined. A cathedral (built of wood in 1693 and rebuilt of stone in 1718), the governor's palace, a school of medicine, a museum, a military hospital, and the crown factories are among the public institutions and buildings. An important fair is held in December. Irkutsk grew out of the winter-quarters established (1652) by Ivan Pokhabov for the collection of the fur tax from the Buriats. Its existence as a town dates from 1686.
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