The Story of the Hall

Contrary to the urban legend, Helsinki’s second oldest market hall has never served as horse barracks for the Russians. The traditional market hall of Hietalahti was opened in December 1903, and with the exception of antique sales between 2003–2012, food has always been sold at Hietalahti. The preparations of the building project already begun in 1889, but due to the difficult economical situation, the city had to postpone the project, and the hall did not open until 1903.

The market hall, with its 116 wooden shops, was designed by architect Selim A. Lindqvist. Lindqvist also designed the Kasarmintori i.e. Kaarti Market Hall, finished in 1907, that was taken down at the end of the 1950s. The Hietalahti Market Hall instantly became a central trading place, and the busy sales continued up until the 1970s. After this, offices increased around the hall, trade experienced structural changes throughout the country, and  the trade at the Hietalahti hall also begun to die down.

In the 1980s, a flea market was set up at the Hietalahti Market Place, and for a moment, the trade at the hall recovered too. At the turn of the century, the city made a bold decision to transfer the Hietalahti hall into an organic hall. However, the time was not yet ripe for an all-organic hall, and, hence, the quietened hall was closed at the end of February 2003. The organic hall trial created, however, some success stories, such as the Lentävä lehmä cheese shop that continued at the Hakaniemi hall. After the organic trade ended, the restaurants that had remained at the ends of the hall were no longer alone, when the hall was reopened as an antique hall. In August 2012, the antique trade ended, when the renovation work for transforming the hall back to a food hall was started.

The vendors of the Old Market Hall moved to the Hietalahti hall in February 2013, while the Old Market Hall is being renovated. After the renovation, the vendors may return to the Old Market Hall, and the vacant stalls at the Hietalahti hall filled with new food vendors.