Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863–1944) was a pioneer in the development of color photography. In the early 1900s, he formulated an ambitious plan to carry out a photographic survey of the Russian Empire. After gaining the support of Tsar Nicholas II, between 1909 and 1915 he completed surveys of 11 regions, traveling in a specially equipped railroad car provided by the Ministry of Transportation. This photograph by Prokudin-Gorskii shows the city of Vitebsk, which is located in present-day Belarus near the border with Russia and Latvia. In the early 1900s, Vitebsk was a commercial and industrial center, connected by railroad to St. Petersburg, Moscow, and Kiev. Its population of 81,000 included Russians, Belarusians, Latvians, Poles, and Jews. The iron bridge with stone supports was constructed in 1863–67, and was the first permanent bridge across the Western Dvina River, which runs through the city. Portraits of Vitebsk and its people appear in many paintings by Marc Chagall, who was born there in 1887.