The opening of the Tori Quarters to the public was one of Mayor Pajunen’s visions, and he extends his gratitude to everybody who has participated in the project. He himself was eager to create Virka in the City Hall lobby and to transfer the City of Helsinki exhibition space and information service from Jugendsali to Virka, despite a debate about the move that was often heated and few words were spared.
He is pleased that the public has found Virka-gallery and the Virka-info information centre, which includes an immigrant information service. Visitors average 400,000 per year. Admittedly this high number is partially explained by the City Hall’s splendid public toilets, which are used by many tourist groups among others.
According to Mayor Pajunen, a crucial player in the revitalization of the Tori Quarters was the Diocese of Helsinki, which helped to energize the area by illuminating Helsinki Cathedral, highlighting this building’s role as the symbol of Helsinki.
“People associate Helsinki with the Cathedral, which plays a crucial role in the quarters’ appeal. The Diocese of Helsinki has joined the efforts to develop events for the Senate Square.”
The transfer of St. Thomas Christmas Market from the Esplanade Park to the Senate Square was an important move. The market’s new Christmas City has attracted large numbers of visitors, who often have to stand in line to ride the carousel.
Mayor Pajunen is grateful to all elected officials whose support made the transformation happen. The transformation was also made possible by the personnel move. The former chief executive officer of Helsinki, Tapio Korhonen , played an important role by systematically pushing the process forward.
The central status of Helsinki’s Empire-style city blocks is strengthened by the adjacent Market Square, by SkyWheel Helsinki at the Katajanokka waterfront and by Allas Sea Pool.
Helsinki islands can be reached from the Market Square, as ferries to the Suomenlinna sea fortress and waterbuses to the Vallisaari and Kuninkaansaari islands depart from the square.
Mayor Pajunen reminds us that in ten years people can walk to the Mustikkamaa recreational island and Helsinki Zoo.
“The area keeps gaining strength as the Market Square and the site originally meant for a Guggenheim museum are developed.”
Has the transformation of the Tori Quarters been a success? Has your vision been realized?
“Whenever we’re doing something new, we can’t be certain about success. The Tori Quarters have exceeded my expectations. The positive change happened faster than I would have believed. For example, I didn’t expect Virka to attract such high numbers of visitors. Moreover, the entrepreneurs of the quarters have been more satisfied than I first expected.”
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