The first and the formost thing you should see in Helsinki is the Helsinki railway station. In the early 1860s, Helsinki’s population was estimated to be around 20,000, making it a small capital city by any standard. 63 After the city of Helsinki was urbanized in the late 19th century, the city saw a dramatic transformation. The city’s population increased by over 70,000 individuals between the 1860s and the 1900s. As the number of passengers using the Helsinki station grew, so did the railway authority’s need for office space. The initial train station was soon discovered to be inadequate due to the expanding demand for rail travel. 183
In 1895, the railway administration in Helsinki began planning a new station. Like many other terminal stations of the time, Helsinki’s was a U-shaped structure at the conclusion of the rails. The Train Administration’s administrative building was designed by architect Bruno Granholm, while the new railway station was designed by the Railway Administration. : 183 The station building can be found in its final location and design in Granholm’s blueprints. 48
Architect C. O. Gleim, winner of 1898 competitions to design both Stockholm and Gothenburg’s central stations, was commissioned by the railway administration to create a plan for the new station building. The plan for the new Helsinki station’s design by the railway administration was to remain under the radar, so there would be no need for an open design competition.
In 1902, the idea of a competition to design a new station was conceived. This competition was held in the hopes of drawing the attention of the railway industry to the challenging design task and the architects who were up to the challenge. Additionally, it prompted the railway administration to launch a public competition to design Helsinki’s new train station.
Despite the lack of tangible results, the contest sparked enough discussion and Finnish Architecture Club activity that the railway administration is holding a new design contest for the façade of the future Helsinki railway station and the administrative building of the railway administration.
The new train station’s layout was planned out by railway officials to be in the shape of a U, with the U’s open end facing the tracks.
A floor plan of the station building and the adjacent office and administrative wing, designed by architect Bruno Granholm, was sent to the contestants. The contents recognized the floor plan as being very similar to the 1888 Frankfurt Hauptbahnh station. 61 The station’s front was specified to be made of natural stone, while the administration building’s was to be made of plaster accented with a sparse quantity of natural stone. : 10 At the heart of the station, near the main entrance, would be a spacious central hall. The building’s primary entrance was required to be oriented toward Kaivokatu. The western end of the station, at the end of the perpendicular platform where the tracks ended, and the Rautatientori square were the other two entrances. It was stipulated that a steel roof be installed over the tracks, and a sample roof was included in the contest materials.
The baggage claim, ticket windows, and other station amenities of Helsinki’s train station were located just across from the main entrance.
There were distinct first-class, second-class, and third-class waiting areas and dining cars in train stations, unlike now. Both ends of the building’s ground level included waiting areas and eateries.
The first and second class waiting areas were located at the southern end of the building, while the third class area was located at the northern end. Attached to both lobbies were eateries catering to a distinct social group. Passengers had to wind their way through the several waiting areas to reach the platforms, as the station lacked a central hall.
There were additional women’s restrooms, an official room, a light room, and office space for the train station on the ground floor. Those in charge of the railroad, the station, and the administration all lived on the top floor. The engineer mechanic and the building’s caretaker both lived on the building’s third story. The attic level contained extra storage rooms as well. 100 The Helsinki Railway Station was the only one in Finland to use gas illumination because the city’s first gas works had just been erected adjacent to it, on the site of the current Postitalo main post office building.
The Helsinki Central Station may be found in Kaivokatu 1 in the Kluuvi neighborhood of the city. The station’s primary façade looks out onto Kluuvikatu. The Helsinki Railway Square is located to the east, and the Eliel Square is located to the west of the station. The Finnair City Bus route terminated at Eliel Square. From the station, you can take the Asematunneli tunnel under Kaivokatu to the basement level of the City-Center building. There is also an underground subway station, Central Railway Station, which may be accessed from within the station.
Central Station in Helsinki is a major transit hub for local and intercity trains as well as the metro system serving the Helsinki metropolitan area. With an average of 240 thousand people each day, the station is the busiest structure in all of Finland. About half of the guests arrive here via train. 147 Every weekday, the station sees about a hundred long-distance trains and around 850 commuter trains.
The waiting areas, ticket booths, kiosk hall, and tunnel access are all located in the hub of the station building. The former Railway Administration offices were located in the building’s eastern wing. Up until the Postitalo building was constructed in the 1930s, this was also Helsinki’s principal post office. In 2018, the VR Group established its new headquarters in Pasila. Upon completion of renovations in 2021, the hotel’s eastern wing would become a Scandic Hotels property. Since the 1970s, the western wing’s subfloor has housed luggage storage areas. Since the 2000s, a café has been operating on the ground floor, and offices and other commercial space have been established on the upper floors. 15 Over 20,000 people use the station every day, and it’s home to nearly twenty shops and eateries.