From the middle of the ninth century, the kingdom of Balhae occupied Primorsky Krai, consisting of the Nanai, the Udege, the Evenks, the Mohe and other descendants of the Tungus-speaking people. Prior to this occupation, Ussuriysk
and its neighbourhood were settled by Yulou Mohe (Hangul : 우루말갈 Hanja/Hanzi : 虞婁靺鞨 pinyin : Yúlóu Mòhé) tribes who were incorporated to Balhae Kingdom under King Seon's reign (818-830). During the Balhae kingdom period, a town called Hwaju (Hangul :화주, Hanja : 華州) was founded which was also the administrative centre of Solbin Prefecture (Hangul : 솔빈부 Hanja : 率賓府 Russian : Шуайбинь).
In 1866 Nikolskoye settlement was founded on the area of today's Ussuriysk. Due to its advantageous geographic location at the crossing of the transportation lines of South Primorye, the village has experienced rapid growth since the 1870s, turning into a trade center. The role of the village increased after the Ussuriysk railroad was constructed. In 1898 Nikolskoye village became a town Nikolsk-Ussuriysky. By the beginning of the 20th century the town's population totaled 15,000 people, and the annual turnover of its trade enterprises was equal to 3 million rubles. After the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905 Nikolsk-Ussuriysky became one of the most important commercial and economic centers of the Russian Far East. In 1913 the city ranked fourth after Vladivostok, Blagoveshchensk, and Khabarovsk in terms of population. Enterprises were established processing agricultural products such as mills, dairies, soap-boiling plants and tanneries, as well as macaroni and sausage factories and breweries. Brick factories, quarries and saw-mills also appeared in the city.
The central part of the city began to be built up with 2- and 3-store masonry buildings. In 1914 there were 14 educational institutions, a theater, a circus, and 3 movie-theaters in Nikolsk-Ussuriysky. After the Revolution of 1917 Ussuriysk's economy experienced a rapid growth. The city specialized in processing agricultural products. Until the 1980s the city ranked second in the Krai in population, having only recently yielded to Nakhodka. Ussuriysk is still second only to Vladivostok as a theatrical and higher-educational center (it is home to the Pedagogical and Agricultural Institutes, and the Higher Military School).
One more economic feature of Ussuriysk is its wholesale trade. There are approximately 30 specialized and multipurpose trade bases many of which had developed contacts with foreign partners before the external economic policy was liberalized in Russia.
Among the city's other enterprises that are worth mentioning are the Grado firm which annually produces up to 600,000 pairs of footwear, and the Locomotive Repairing Plant. The annual industrial output of Ussuriysk equals 8% of Krai's production. Besides, the city is the crossing point of all major highways and railroads of Primorye.
Animal husbandry is well-developed in Ussuriysky District. Soybeans, buckwheat, wheat, barley, potatoes, and vegetables are grown here. Manufacture of furs is also developed in this District. Oktyabrsky JSC supplies mink fur-skins to the Russian market and abroad.
The joint Ussuriysky Administration has worked out a program of social and economic development in the city and the District. This presupposes an active exploration of the deposits of mineral sources found in the territory of the city and the district, namely, hard and brown coal, tuff, and clay. Foreign investors are welcome in the mining of these sedimentary rocks.
The Ussuriysk Drama Theater is located at #33 Volodarskogo St. It was opened in 1937. The theater is of classical tendencies. Plays are staged both for adults and children. The hall can accommodate 428 people.
The downtown including Lenina, Chicherina, Krasnoznamyonnaya, and Ageyeva Streets is of historic value. The city's oldest hotel (#28 Lenina St.) was constructed in 1880. #53 Lenina St. which houses the city's oldest movie-theater Grand-Illyuzion was built in 1908.
The Intercession Church at #80A Chicherina St. was built in 1914. It is Primorsky Krai's only religious building which has been kept without any reconstruction since 1917 and used for its original purpose.