A number of people were forced to move to St. Petersburg and each Russian province had to supply future residents to the new city. By 1725 the population reached 40,000, which made St. Petersburg the second-largest city in the country.
In the late 1720s under Peter II, Peter the Great’s grandson, the court moved back to Moscow. But the teenage tsar died at the age of 14. By the time new empress Anna Ioannovna decided to move the capital back to St.Petersburg, the main thoroughfare, Nevsky Prospekt, was already overgrown with grass.
During the reign of Catherine the Great, who famously said, “I do not like Moscow at all, but I do not have any prejudice against Petersburg,” St. Petersburg’s population grew to 160,000. More palaces were built in the city and its suburbs, and the empress started an art collection, which would later turn into the Hermitage Museum.
Under Catherine the Great, St. Petersburg’s embankments were all clad in granite, although this unfortunately did not prevent regular flooding. In 1824 St. Petersburg suffered an enormous flood — the largest in the history of the city — which caused enormous damage and was depicted in the well-known poem “The Bronze Horseman,” by Alexander Pushkin.