St. Petersburg was the site of the original U.S. Mission to Russia, established in 1780, with Frances Dana as the Minister-designate. Dana spent three years in St. Petersburg, but his credentials were never accepted by the Russian Court. Thus the first Minister Plenipotentiary (Ambassador) of the United States in Russia, was John Quincy Adams, who presented his credentials to Tsar Alexander I on the 5th of November, 1809.
Adams served almost five years in St. Petersburg during the Napoleonic Wars. He finally left St. Petersburg because, as he wrote to President James Madison, he could not afford the expenses related to being Ambassador at Court. John Quincy Adams later became the Sixth President of the United States.
Another future President of the United States, James Buchanan, served in St. Petersburg as “Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary” from 1832-1833.
During the turbulence of the revolution and civil war, Ambassador David R. Francis departed Russia on November 7, 1918, leaving Felix Cole to serve as Charge d’Affaires ad interim until the U.S. Embassy in Russia closed on September 14, 1919. By then, the ruling Bolsheviks had moved the country’s capital from Petrograd (the city’s name since the outbreak of the First World War) to Moscow, and the U.S. diplomatic presence in Peter’s City disappeared for over half a century.
The U.S. Mission was not restored until 1933, when the U.S. Embassy was opened in Moscow, the capital of the USSR.
The U.S. diplomatic presence was reestablished in Leningrad (as St. Petersburg was then called) in 1972, with the opening of a U.S. Consulate General. The Consulate is currently located at 15 Furstatskaya Street.