Alku Toinen

Alku Toinen

This building with a surprising name I found in Sunset Park, Brooklyn.  It is a Co-op house, built in 1916 by the Finnish Home Building Association for 8000$. It’s predecessor Alku I  is probably the red brick building on the right.  Close by I also found another co-op that was first called  Moscow and after that The Advance, but the men spending their day on its stoop did not like me taking pictures of it.

The strange thing about Alku Toinen? It was the first non-profit housing co-operative in the United States – built by Finnish carpenters for themselves on their Sundays off, providing cheap and good homes in a time these were hard to come by. The modest-looking building offered to its inhabitants safety and luxury they had not had before. Alku Toinen was run by the co-op board at least until the 1980’s, but unfortunately many of the other 26 co-ops that the Finnish Home Association built had to be sold during the Great Depression.

It is a nice thought that these people had so advanced and clever ideas about good and affordable living in a city, after all coming from a country where the ideal is to live as far away as you can from everybody else, preferably by a lake.

There was still one person with a Finnish name living in Alku Toinen.

Doorway to Alku Toinen

These houses are here because they are ugly and ordinary in a nice way and one of them makes a face.

Three Houses on 6th Avenue
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One thought on “Alku Toinen

  1. Having lived in the building I can say that it was a wonderful place to grow up as a kid. It was kept sparkling clean. Residents would sit out on the front stoop in the summer and talk to all the Finns passing by. The organ grinder had it as a regular stop. Stickball was always being played in the street. It’s good to see that the building has held up well.

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