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  • Writer's pictureVesa Oja

Brooklyn and Harlem Finntowns 2006

3rd Finglish trip March 2006 #2

The former reception terminal for European immigrants in the Port of New York has been converted into a museum. The last ship docked here in 1924. Other routes to North America included Halifax, Canada.

The Ellis Island museum has collected a great deal of information on the immigrants that passed through the island. The names of some 700,000 people are found on its Wall of Honor.

Only memories remain of the Finntown in New York’s Harlem, where a former workers´ hall next door now serves as a church. The legendary 5th Avenue Hall, which is remembered with particular nostalgia, has been refurbished into a luxury apartment.

The first floor of the 5th Avenue Hall included a reception and ticket sales area and the smaller Vesan Sali hall, where dances were held on Thursday and Sunday evenings. There was a cafeteria on the second floor and plays were performed in the main hall on the third floor. Men would play pool downstairs.

There is a Chinese restaurant in the former offices and printing house of the New Yorkin Uutiset newspaper. The Finnish community in Brooklyn has given up its old churches and halls, most recently Imatra Hall, and Finntown is rapidly becoming Chinese.

The Finnish Alku and Alku II in Brooklyn were the first co-operative housing ventures in the United States.

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