It was founded in 1737 as a fortress called Stavropol ( ) by the Russian statesman Vasily Tatishchev. Informally it was often referred as Stavropol-on-Volga ( ) to distinguish from Stavropol, a large city in southwest Russia.
The construction of the Kuybyshev Dam and Hydroelectric Station on the Volga River in the 1950s created the Kuybyshev Reservoir, which covered the existing location of the city, and it was completely rebuilt on a new site. In 1964, the city was renamed Tolyatti (after Palmiro Togliatti, the longest-serving secretary of the Italian Communist Party).
There are three districts in the city:
*Avtozavodsky ( ), also called Novy Gorod (lit. New City), is the most modern; it was designed to host the workers of the city's AvtoVAZ factory, home of the Lada car;
*Tsentralny ( ), also called Stary Gorod (lit. Old City), home of the city government and industrial center;
*Komsomolsky ( ), the oldest district, built to house Hydroelectrical Plant builders.