The Moscow Metro was initially built under the 1930's Moscow general plan designed by Lazar Kaganovich and was named after him ("Metropoliten im. L.M. Kaganovicha"). The first line opened on 15 May 1935 between Sokolniki and Park Kultury. The construction of the first stations was based on other underground systems, and only a few original designs were allowed: ( Krasniye Vorota , Okhotniy Ryad and Kropotkinskaya ). Kievskaya station was the first to use national motifs.
The second stage was completed before the war. In September 1938 the Gorkovskaya Line opened between Sokol and Teatralnaya . Here the architecture was based on the most popular of the stations already in existence (Krasniye Vorota, Okhotnyi Ryad and Kropotkinskaya) and the compositions followed the popular art deco style, though merging it with socialist visions. The first deep level Column station Mayakovskaya was built at the same time.
Building work on the third stage was delayed but not interrupted during the Second World War, and two Metro sections were put into service: Teatralnaya - Avtozavodskaya (3 stations, crossing the Moskva river in a deep tunnel) and Kurskaya - Partizanskaya (4 stations) were inaugurated in 1943 and 1944 respectively. War motifs replaced socialist visions in the architectural design of the stations.During the Siege of Moscow, in the autumn and winter of 1941, metro stations were used as air-raid shelters and the Council of Ministers moved its offices to the platforms of Mayakovskaya , where Stalin made public speeches on several occasions. Chistiye Prudy station was also walled off and the headquarters of the Air Defence installed there.
After the war, construction started on the fourth stage of the Metro, which included the Koltsevaya Line and a deep part of the Arbatsko-Pokrovskaya line from Ploshchad Revolyutsii to Kievskaya , and a surface extension to Pervomaiskaya in the early 1950s . The exquisite decoration and design of so much of the Moscow Metro is considered to have reached its peak in these stations. The Koltsevaya Line was planned first as a line running under the Sadovoye Koltso ( Garden Ring ), a wide avenue encircling the borders of Moscow 's city centre, iin 1954 the ring line was completed.
The beginning of the Cold War led to the construction of a deep part of the Arbatskiy line. The stations on this line are very deep and were planned as shelters in the event of nuclear war.
During the late 1950s, the architectural extravagance of new metro stations was significantly toned down, and decorations at some stations, like VDNKh and Alekseevskaya , were greatly simplified compared with original plans. This was done on the orders of Nikita Khrushchev , who favoured a more spartan decoration scheme. A typical layout (which quickly became known as "Sorokonozhka") was developed for all new stations, and the stations were built to look almost identical, differing from each other only in colours of the marble and ceramic tiles. Most of these stations were very poorly built.
It was not until the mid-1970s that architectural extravagance was restored, and original designs once again became popular.