The Sennaya Square (Sennaya Ploshchad, formerly Peace Square) came into being in the 1730s. In the 19th century the square and the narrow muddy lanes adjacent to it were known as the gloomiest parts of Saint Petersburg. Fyodor Dostoevsky provides a graphical description of life in this district in his novel Crime and Punishment.
The modern Sennaya Square, asphalted and planted round with trees, bears no resemblance to the original square which in the course of time had sprouted ugly market buildings, cluttering all the space there was. The reconstruction of Sennaya Square was started before World War II, and resumed after 1945. The market buildings were pulled down, trees were planted around the square, a space for lawns was cleared, the facades of the houses were reconstructed, and a new building put up.
Beyond the Apraxin Rinok is the Sennaya Ploschad, or hay-market; and here, again, the manners of the lower orders may be conveniently studied. The open space is frequently so crowded with them, that the police have some trouble to keep a passage clear in the centre for the equipages which are constantly coming and going. On one side of this passage stand the sellers of hay, wood, and, in spring, of plants and shrubs. On the other side are the peasants with their stores of meat, ﬁsh, butter, and vegetables. Between these two rows are the sledges and equipages whose owners come to make their daily purchases, and depart laden with herbs and vegetables, the bleeding necks of the poultry often presenting a singular contrast to the splendid carriages from whose windows they are listlcssly dangling.
Robert Sears, An Illustrated Description of Russia, 1852