Not So Great?

As part of her plan for the modernization of Russia, Catherine the Great envisioned the construction of several great cities to serve as centers of industry and progress. During a state visit by the Austrian emperor Joseph II, the two rulers laid the foundation stones for one of these cities; Catherine laid the first stone and Joseph the second. Despite Catherine's enthusiasm, however, Joseph remained skeptical: "I have finished in a single day a most important business with the empress of Russia," Joseph later remarked. "She has laid the first stone of a city and I have laid the last."

[Sure enough, the city, like most of the others, was never built.]

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