Petersburg was founded on tears and corpses.
— Nikolai Karamzin
The Myth of Petersburg
Was it Utopia? Or was it a nightmare of an authoritarian empire? On one side, it was a utopia; it was all about development and wrenching nature. However, It is built on a swamp. The death rate of such construction on a swamp was miserable. Petersburg's surroundings were chaotic; it was never a good place to live.
Also, Swedish outposts already existed; it was not a pure discovery.
Why does Petersburg need to be sold as a paradise?
Petersburg was symbolic; everything about the city was westernized. Petersburg is an artificial embodiment of the symbol of the state. No spiritual, economic, or cultural center. With only one man's will.
The city can be the antithesis of the surroundings...
Pushkin put Peter the Great as the Bronze Horseman: a robust and powerful individual dealing with natural consequences. Pushkin is Russia's greatest poet and innovator in Romanticism, archaist, socially progressive, and conservative. However, V. N. Berkh put it entirely differently...
A wave-swept shore, remote, forlorn, Here stood it, rapt in thought and drawn... To distant prospects. Broad and chartless. The river run along it borne; a lonely skiff, ...