I've lived in Alppiharju for almost 15 years. In my first years, I thought I was living in some kind of no-man's land. Over time, I've learned that Alppiharju has its own dualistic identity. On a pretty summer day, the cotton candy sweetness and bourgeois charm by the Linnanmäki amusement park transforms into the ruggedness and lively chatter of Kallio and the Vaasankatu bar street in just five minutes. The electronic music haven Ääniwalli is worldclass. The sounds of daytime parties float in the air from just a few minutes away. If you need a break from the euphoric beats, the green Alppipuisto park is right around the corner. Where else in the city can you experience such compact diversity?
It is not always clear even to Helsinkians where Kallio ends and Alppiharju begins. Officially, the two neighbourhoods are divided by the street Helsinginkatu. Alppiharju – known colloquially as both Alppila and Harju – is inhabited by many young adults. The proportion of children is the lowest in Helsinki. The area has a total population of about 12,000 inhabitants.
Alppiharju has smaller homes than the Helsinki average and a high population density. The housing blocks on the northern side of Helsinginkatu were mainly built in the 1920s and 1930s as working class apartment complexes. Some original wooden houses remain in the area and the surrounding parks make the district very green.
Most certainly, the best-known street in the district is the legendary Vaasankatu, which is 500 metres long. It is lined with trendy bars, Thai massage parlours, vegan restaurants, and beer houses. The intersecting street Harjunkatu houses a small cinema where you can enjoy quality drinks while taking in a movie.
Some landmarks in the area include the popular sports field Brahenkenttä, the Linnanmäki Amusement Park, and the Helsinki Hall of Culture designed by Alvar Aalto. The Alppipuisto and Lenininpuisto parks are popular gathering places especially in summer. The Worker Housing Museum is worth a visit, offering a glimpse into working class homes throughout the 20th century (open only in summertime).