In the early days of St. Petersburg was a an exercise ground for the Semenovsky Regiment of the Royal Guards, where soldiers were drilled and regimental parades took place.
In 1881 the square saw the public execution (hanging) of revolutionaries from the “People’s Will” organization, who had successfully assassinated Emperor Alexander II
Among those executed were Alexei Zheliabov, Sofya Perovskaya, N.I Kibalchich, T.M. Mikhailov and N.I. Rysakov.
In 1888-1891 part of the square was used as a Hippodrome for horse races and special spectator stands were constructed there.
In 1893 the square saw the unveiling of St. Petersburg’s first Velodrome – cycling track (then called a ‘Cyclodrome’) with spectator stands fro 2000 people.
Finally, in 1957-1962 the square was fully redesigned and was named Pionerskaya Square in honor of the 40th anniversary of the All-Union Organization of Young Pioneers, (the Soviet Union’s version of boy scouts and girl scouts, with ideological emphasis).