Kallio used to be a working class neighbourhood with small flats, one room housing a family with children, and sometimes even a lodger. Families are long since gone. Now most of the inhabitants are students and pensioners, and other solitary people.

Since the early 1990s the area has mainly been known for sex shops, private strippers, oriental massage, disreputable pubs, drunkards, the homeless ... The district is either romanticised or shunned by the respectable. Even Veronica, the celebrity domina of last decade, once spoke on TV of her old place "in the bowels of Kallio" in a tone indicating that my home street had been too humble for her. It is an inelegant but mostly quiet residential street. Although one summer I did meet a man who had started using drugs in the Vietnam war. He had gone there for the money, he said. Next year I heard he had been shot dead on the street. Interesting choices for one born in Finland. But as Tolkien wrote about another place, "there is --- in this land no evil, unless a man bring it hither himself."

Some claim that Kallio is more tolerant of different kinds of people and behaviour than better neighbourhoods. If so, it is a tolerance born out of necessity. Sometimes I've thought about moving away from there, but the location is far too convenient. And I suppose I am a 'Kallio romantic' after all, although Eira does have its - very different - charms.


Here's a more versatile picture of street level business life on Vaasankatu, a part of my daily route, than the one given by Helsingin Sanomat in its article last summer:


More of the neighbourhood in Finnish in Kallioblogi.