Näkymä Nikolainkadulle etelään päin (nyk. Snellmaninkatu) suurin piirtein nykyisen Vironkadun ja Snellmaninkadun risteyksestä. 1910 (© Helsingin kaupunginmuseo)
At the corner of Oikokatu ”Shortcut Street” and Nikolainkatu ”Nicholas’ Street” (Snellmaninkatu ”Snellman’s Street”) 1910. © Helsinki City Museum

Planned names – Kruununhaka / Kronohagen in Helsinki

From a pasture of the horses owned by the Swedish Crown to Kruununhaka

The name Kruununhaka / Kronohagen “the Crown’s Pasture” was given to a quarter of Helsinki in the 19th century. The Swedish-language name Kronohagen had already been in use at least since the 1750s.  It was born spontaneously to designate a grazing land of horses owned by the army of the Kingdom of Sweden, i.e. “the Swedish Crown”. It is in Kruununhaka where the oldest official street names still in use in Helsinki, fi Unioninkatu / sv Unionsgatan “Union Street” and fi Liisankatu / sv Elisabetsgatan “Elizabeth’s Street”, are found. The Swedish names Unionsgatan and Elisabetsgatan were given in 1819, in connection with the visit of Russian Emperor Alexander I to Helsinki. A bit later the streets were given their Finnish names. Elisabetinkatu, i.e. Liisankatu “Elizabeth’s Street” was named after Empress Elizabeth, the wife of Alexander I.

Mariankatu 1907
Mariankatu. Signe Brander 1907. © Helsinki City Museum

Commemorative names in Kruununhaka

Kruununhaka has a large number of commemorative names, i.e. names that have been given to specifically honour or commemorate a person.  The street names HelenankatuHelenegatan ’Helen’s Street’, KristianinkatuKristiansgatan ’Christian’s Street’, MariankatuMariegatan ’Maria’s Street’ and SofiankatuSofiegatan ’Sophie’s Street’ date from the 19th century. NikolainkatuNikolaigatan ’Nicholas’ Street’ (comes from its location close to Nicholas Church; the name of the church referred to the Russian Czar I and Saint Nicholas) was renamed as SnellmaninkatuSnellmansgatan ’Snellman’s Street’ in 1928, after the Finnish statesman and national philosopher J. V. Snellman.

Occasionally there are no records of the people the names were meant to commemorate. It has been thought that the name Katariinankatu – Katrinegatan (Catherine Gatan 1820) ’Catherine’s Street’ was given to commemorate either the Russian Czarina Catherine II, or the mother or spouse, both called Catherine, of Councillor of State J.A. Ehrenström, who was involved in the naming process of the street names in Helsinki.

Names can also be given to commemorate events. For example, in many Finnish towns, we find streets called Rauhankatu ’Peace Street’. In Helsinki, RauhankatuFredsgatan ’Peace Street’ was given to commemorate the 1809 Treaty of Hamina; the name was given later  in the 19th century.

There are also cases where places have been named after companies and associations. For example KirjatyöntekijänkatuBokarbetaregatan (1945) ’Printing Industry Workers’ Street’ was named after the printing industry employees’ union premises located in the street. 

Liisankatu ja Meritullinkatu 1969
Young people crossing the street at the corner of Meritullinkatu ”Harbour Customs Street”.

Nikolainkatu (Snellmaninkatu 27) 1907 (© Helsingin kaupunginmuseo)
At the corner of Oikokatu ”Shortcut Street” and Nikolainkatu ”Nicholas’ Street” (Snellmaninkatu ”Snellman’s Street”).

Mariankatu ja Aleksanterinkatu 1906
The Sveaborg Rebellion. Russian Infantry at the corner of Mariankatu ”Maria’s Street” and Aleksanterinkatu ”Alexander’s Street” on 31 July 1906. © Helsinki City Museum

Kortteleissa tapahtuu – Kaisaniemenkatu 1937–38
A view from the rooftop of Liisankatu 29 ” 29 Elizabeth’s Street” – Unioninkatu 39 ”Union Street” towards Kaisaniemenkatu in the south-southwest. Constantin Grünberg 1937–1938. © Helsinki City Museum