Kallio was developed as a working-class district, housing the families of the labourers in the Sörnäinen harbour and industrial zone. Today, many of its homes shelter young adults or the elderly. A lot of migrants from other parts of Finland choose to move into Kallio. Students are also attracted to the area, because rents are low.
Kallio's apartment buildings are more densely-packed than usual for Helsinki, and smaller than average. The district has acquired a bohemian reputation, as many artists have taken to living here. Kallio has its seedier aspects; cheap bars and pubs, strip clubs and sex shops. Some streets are associated with gang activity.
On Kallio’s highest hill you will find Torkkelinmäki, one of the district’s nicer neighbourhoods. Built in the 1920s, Torkkelinmäki has neoclassical-style homes in a park-like garden city layout.
New developments may soon change the face of Kallio. The Sörnäinen harbour area is making way to a waterfront development for 15,000 new residents.
Alppiharju’s two areas, Alppila and Harju, were mostly built in the early 1900s. Alppila is green and spacious; nearly half its terrain is parkland, including the popular Linnamäki amusement park. Some of the district’s residences are restored wooden houses back dating to 1910.
Harju is a more densely-structured sub-district, originally a working-class residential area. It has closely-spaced high-rise flats from the 1920s and 1930s. The Harju of today has a bohemian atmosphere similar to neighbouring Kallio. It is full of specialty shops and other small businesses, and home to a thriving restaurant culture.
Vallila is like Kaillo, a former working-class residential district that has undergone a bohemian uplift as artists have been drawn to live and work in the area. Vallila still has many old wooden houses dating from the 1920s or earlier. Its main streets feature some lovely buildings built in the Nordic Classicism style of the 1920s and '30s.
The Hermanni residential area is more modern. Hardly any of the original wooden houses remain; Hermanni has large 1950s and '60s concrete apartment blocks.
Etelä-Hermanni (South Hermanni), which has two metro stations, will be developed into a residential zone for 2,500 inhabitants in the coming years. Its park-like environment will soon see the rise of apartment towers looking out over the Baltic Sea.
Pasila is a central district, home to Helsinki’s second largest railway station. It is divided into the Itä-Pasila (eastern), Länsi-Pasila (western), Keski-Pasila (central), and Pohjois-Pasila (northern) subdistricts.
Itä-Pasila has office buildings and residential high-rises mostly built in the mid-1970s, using prefab construction. The area segregates pedestrian zones from roads for motor vehicles. The Käpylä Sports Park provides some greenery. Keski-Pasila in between Itä-Pasila and Länsi-Pasila, is mostly occupied by the railway station and its 13 tracks, which were built in the mid-19th century.
Länsi-Pasila has 1980s red-brick apartment blocks, grouped around inner courts that preserve greenery. A few of Länsi-Pasila's original wooden manors are still standing. The western side of Länsi-Pasila borders parkland.
The Pasila railyard is soon to be developed into a major residential and commercial centre.
The name Vanhakaupunki means "old town", and it was here by the Vantaa River that King Gustav Vasa of Sweden founded Helsinki in 1550.
The Käpylä neighbourhood is the most notable of Vanhakaupunki's residential areas. One area in it, Puu-Käpylä, is one of the first examples of the Finnish garden city aesthetic. It is made up of 1920s wooden houses in idyllic park-like surroundings, with green trees presiding over shady lanes. Puu-Käpylä means "Käpylä Wood," which aptly describes the town-in-a-forest feel of the place. The Olympic Village, in Käpylä, was built for the 1952 Summer Olympics. Another, older village was originally built here for the 1940 Summer Olympics.
Toukola is one of Vanhakaupunki’s old neighbourhoods. Here you still find quaint wooden houses painted in red, yellow, or green. But Toukola also has a more modern section, Arabianranta, where the Helsinki University of Art and Design and the Helsinki Pop & Jazz Conservatory are.
Stylish residential towers have been going up in Arabianranta, which offers a scenic coastal view over the Vanhankaupunginselkä Bay. This housing development project is set to be completed by the year 2010.