Today, in English the city is known as "Saint Petersburg".Local residents often refer to the city by its shortened nickname, Piter (Russian: ).
With the emancipation of the serfs undertaken by Alexander II in 1861 and an Industrial Revolution, the influx of former peasants into the capital increased greatly.The city's traditional nicknames among Russians are the Window to the West and the Window to Europe. Petersburg is often called the Venice of the North or Russian Venice due to its many water corridors, as the city is built on swamp and water. Petersburg has strongly European-inspired architecture and culture, which is combined with the city's Russian heritage. Petersburg is The City of White Nights because of a natural phenomenon which arises due to the closeness to the polar region and ensures that in summer the nights of the city do not get completely dark for a month.Swedish colonists built Nyenskans, a fortress at the mouth of the Neva River in 1611, in what was then called Ingermanland, which was inhabited by Finnic tribe of Ingrians. At the end of the 17th century, Peter the Great, who was interested in seafaring and maritime affairs, wanted Russia to gain a seaport to trade with the rest of Europe.In 1736–1737 the city suffered from catastrophic fires.To rebuild the damaged boroughs, a committee under Burkhard Christoph von Münnich commissioned a new plan in 1737.