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  • Writer's pictureVesa Oja

Työn Temppeli Harlem 2009

9th Finglish trip October 2009 #3

At 15 W126th Street in Harlem in New York City stands a grey building, the Pilgrim Cathedral of Harlem. Before it was the Työn Temppeli - Labor Temple, it was built by Finnish American communists in the 1920s. In Harlem there was already the 5th Avenue Hall which was owned by the Finnish American socialist chapter - osasto. The communists, after the Second Schism of the Finnish American socialists, left the 5th Avenue Hall and started to build their own hall.

The Työn Temppeli may have been the most luxurious Finn hall in the country. The hall had meeting rooms, a restaurant, a stage with an extremely active little theater, an auditorium, a roof garden for dancing, a pool room, a swimming pool that was next to a great sauna. Työn Temppeli was open to all regardless of race.

The activity at the Työn Temppeli was in high gear when the Winter War between Finland and Soviet Union began. The hall´s leadership, members of the International Workers Order, could not support Finland instead they supported Soviet Union in the war. Most New York Finns boycotted the place and the drop in income was so drastic that the hall had to be sold in 1944.

Next Finnish Golgotha Congregational Church Brooklyn New York USA

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