A Is For Arbetarrörelse.

We have a new series, from Ice Swimmer. Many photographers do an alphabet round at least once, it’s fun and it’s a challenge on several different levels, finding a descriptive photo to correspond to each letter of the alphabet. I’ve done this several times myself, back in the day, but Ice Swimmer elevates this from the standard challenge, and is bringing us words in Finnish, Swedish, and English. Fun, and we all get to learn something!


Swedish for Labour movement. The Art Nouveau style stone building is Helsingin työväentalo (Helsinki Labour Hall) which is nowadays operated commercially as a congress centre. There were both Finnish and Swedish speaking workers in Helsinki. The facade of the building was built from the stones quarried from the rock that stood at the site. The oldest part of the building was completed in 1908, nine years before the Finnish Independence. Most other labour halls in Finland were wooden buildings.

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© Ice Swimmer, all rights reserved.


  1. says

    That copper clad tower looks sligthly out of place. Not ugly, but odd. As if a piece of it were missing. Maybe it is that I am used to pointy tower tops.

  2. avalus says

    I like the rough look the stones give the building.
    @ Caine: I completly missed the windows in the middle :D Oh my …

  3. Ice Swimmer says

    Caine @ 1

    It is beautiful, both inside and out.

    Charly @ 2

    Those towers are common in buildings here from that era, which are of the more National Romantic kind of Art Nouveau (if it’s allowable to conflate the two). They are often a bit more rounded at the top.

    The Finnish Labour movement was split between moderates and radicals. The radicals were at the height of their power during Finnish Civil War in 1918. After the Civil War, moderates led by Väinö Tanner (who the Soviets would start to hate viciously later) gained control of the Social Democratic Party and the radicals operated in underground organizations taking their orders from Moscow, until the end of WW2.

  4. jazzlet says

    The copper clad tower looks like it might be a water tank to me, I’m used to seeing those on top of large buildings. It is a most splendid building, I love the curve of the right hand front corner.

  5. lumipuna says

    Ice Swimmer elevates this from the standard challenge, and is bringing us words in Finnish, Swedish, and English

    Won’t alternating languages make this easier?

  6. says

    You’re more than welcome, Ice Swimmer! This is so much fun, and I get to look and ooooh and ah instead of doing the work. :D

  7. Ice Swimmer says

    Now I remember a bad joke:

    The chairman of SAK (Central Organisation of Finnish Trade Unions) was dancing with a lady at the Independence Day Reception in the Presidential Palace. She was puzzled about his leaping dance style and asked him about it, to which he said: “It’s not dancing, it’s labour movement.”

  8. lumipuna says

    “It’s not dancing, it’s labour movement.”

    *the above happens not too long after WWII*

    Her next partner is an old White Guard officer from prewar times, who drags her out to the street, where the taxis are waiting. He hails one of the drivers and tells the address of the USSR embassy.

    “Why are we going there to dance?”, she asks.

    “It’s not dancing, and I’m not going anywhere. It’s Lapua movement.”


  9. opus says

    About that curved corner: do you have any idea whether this was a design choice or was it driven by site limitations? Or did it just turn out that way?
    I have grown more sensitive to such design issues in the process of designing and building a new home. The architect has a maxim about mistakes which I have grown to love: “if you can’t hide it, feature it.”
    Which now that I think about it, is not a bad guiding principle for matters great and small.

  10. Ice Swimmer says

    voyager @ 12

    Thank you!

    opus @13

    It’s from the site, I think. The street between Työväentalo and the yellow apartment building, Saariniemenkatu* is north-south and the street in front, Säästöpankinranta** follows the shoreline of the peninsula (once an island) narrowing towards west/right.
    * = Island Peninsula Street
    ** = Savings Bank’s Shore, after a 19th-century illicit dive called Sparbanken ( Swedish for savings bank)

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