Once was a railway

This wonderful photograph is by one of many folks who have felt the need to comment on the passing of this part of the city. “Melancholic Optimist” posted this on Flickr, along with lots of other cool stuff.

We have been mentioning Helsinki’s disappearing railways a lot recently this blog. Today in our spotlight is Pasila, what some have described as Helsinki’s Croydon

Pasila is an area that’s been most cruelly treated – in architectural terms – in the past. It will soon also inaugurate a new era in Finnish housing with a much-discussed high rise scheme. To the parts of Pasila dissected by the railway and railway sidings for a century, East and West Pasila, this will add mid, or Keski, Pasila.

But it’s not a tabula rasa that’s being worked on here, but a fascinating layering of cultural history and surprisingly fertile nature. Here, it’s not just the late 19th century that comes to mind on the abandoned railway, but the concrete galleries of the post-war years.

Some of this area is currently something between SLOAP (space left over after planning) and extremely interesting speculative land. Some is in use by railway enthusiasts, by VR (Finnish railways), and by artists and petanque players who use the red-brick railway sheds (listed by the Board of Antiquities as cultural heritage to be protected). According to the City’s website, there are just a few enterprises here, a few dozen employees. In the City’s vision of “New Helsinki” some of these buildings will remain. Still, there’ll be thousands of jobs here, wedged between a “media cluster” in West Pasila (already there) and the spanky new residential in Central.

I even found out that turntables were part of the railways before LP records were even dreamt of. Not that I did find out what the little cabin is called. Anyway, all in aid of getting railway carriages and locomotives facing the right direction!

From Pasila there’s a newer harbour railway, or rather there was, to Kalasatama, which was built in 1965 and dismantled at some point after the harbour left Sompasaari (of which today’s Kalasatama was a part) and opened up for business in the new harbour in Vuosaari. The intrepid can still walk the length of this route. They can wonder at the strange beauty (captured in that first pic and, perhaps, my efforts below) of the 1960s concrete originally put there to help stuff reach us all faster.

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One response to “Once was a railway

  1. Pingback: Vertical in Helsinki take 2 – or planning Pasila « Jees Helsinki Jees

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