Hämeentie is the longest street in Helsinki, Finland. Not only is it long, it's also wide. It has double lanes both ways with a priority for bus. Also a tram line goes through the center. Hämeentie doesn't have as much traffic as you would expect but you can usually see buses going through it day and night. Underground, a subway serves Hämeentie in Hakaniemi and Sörnäinen.

Hämeentie starts in Hakaniemi square, a hub for local public transports. In Hakaniemi the hall and street markets rival each other selling everything from food to clothes. It can be a busy place when the market is running, or extremely empty during the winter months. The area is also known for having several Oriental food stores and Asian imports.

If you pay attention out of Hakaniemi you can see the ocean close by although it doesn't make a sound. It is still and quiet as a lake. During the summer boats sail close by.

The lower part of Hämeentie is home to all sorts of things. Banks. Chinese department stores. Thailandese novelty shops. Your average bunch of ravintola bars. Asian travel agencies. Small parks. Abandoned warehouses. 24 hour pizza and kebab restaurants. The university of art and design. An open field where kids often play softball during Summer. Old apartment buildings. New apartment buildings. Fancy terrace bars. Underground dubstep clubs. All sorts of street art. Afro and european hair stylists. Cheap pizza places. Kela, the social services. A remodelled Hemingway's. Dodgy tunnels leading to beautiful family area gardens. Even an Irish pub.

Hämeentie is already part of Kallio, a neighborhood known as the bohemian side of Helsinki, filled with bars for all tastes and crowds, sex shops and thailandese massage parlours. Going up Hämeentie you reach Sörnäinen area, known for having an average demographics of drunks, druggies and emigrants.

In Sörnäinen there is a 24 hour Alepa, the local supermarket chains. The 24 hour Alepa is an habitat of it's own. People of all ages, nations and social backgrounds end up shopping something there late at night. On the weekend the bottle collectors queue next to the machine to claim their earnings. During the mornings commuters buy their Pulla on the go. On the afternoons the sliced bread which is expiring is placed on discount sale. Close to 18:00 the checkout queue is filled with people buying their beer before the alcohol section closes. On the evenings the stocks of pizza run low when people come grab them for a fast dinner solution.

Hämeentie goes on further north, serving the city jail and other public transport connections to Pasila train station.

At night the trams stop while the busses carry on. On the weekends you can hear drunkards cursing and shouting. And in the mornings old couples walk their dogs avoiding the frozen puke in the corner. The real soul of Hämeentie seems to remain hidden, I claim the hypothesis that the soul of Hämeentie can be heard in the busses that go through it day and night.
-Filipe Cruz

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artwork/cover design:
©2011 Cristina Gaspar
©2011 David Vélez
©2011 Filipe Cruz
©2012 Impulsive Habitat

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