A photographic leap through time in the Finnish capital

Our photographer discovers new ways to see Helsinki when he revisits locations immortalised more than a century ago by the renowned I.K. Inha.

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Renowned photographer I.K. Inha documented the Finnish capital more than 100 years ago with glass-negative exposures. We discover new ways to see Helsinki by juxtaposing his pictures with digital photos taken today from the same angles.

In 1910, WSOY published Helsingin opas (A guide to Helsinki). The book contained 60 pictures of the Finnish capital by Into Konrad Inha (1865–1930), a photographer more famous for travelling the countryside to capture landscapes on film during a period that was significant in the development of the Finnish national identity.

In 2009, WSOY printed a book of Inha’s Helsinki photos, including about 130 pictures that had not been used in 1910, called Helsinki – Valon kaupunki (Helsinki: City of light). ThisisFINLAND obtained permission to put some of these pictures online, and photojournalist Tim Bird revisited the locations to show you what they look like today. The comparisons are striking – some because of how different the locations look, but others because of how little has changed.

“After 20 years in Helsinki, there aren’t many parts of the city I haven’t seen, but it was nice to rediscover some neighbourhoods,” Bird says. “There were nice surprises as well as negative ones.” The result is a fascinating experience – part documentary, part art and part nostalgia – that takes viewers through a cross-section of modern and historic Helsinki.


Photos by I.K. Inha, 1908–09 (WSOY archives), and Tim Bird, July 2009
Text by Peter Marten, updated April 2020