Truth be told, I don’t have a whole lot to say about this place. Let me explain why.
First, I believe that everything that can be said about Jakomäentie 4, formerly Jakomäentie 6, is already said by this awe-inspiring microhistory published in a November 2014 issue of Finland’s main newspaper, Helsingin Sanomat.
The interviews and pictures tell the fascinating story of a housing complex built in the 1960s to offer spacious, affordable flats far away – 15 kilometres exactly – from the increasingly crowded and high-end downtown Helsinki. Jakomäki’s reputation as a “rough” neighborhood has followed it ever since, though some would contest it as partly prejudice and myth.
Second, while I am happy to have seen Jakomäentie 4 before the arrival of the bulldozers, I can’t say it compared to some of the more exciting abandoned sites I have ever seen. As with most purpose-built and city-owned buildings, once you’ve seen one apartment, you’ve seen them all. Moreover, the gloomy weather and my non-professional photo equipment made photography a challenge.
After somewhat of a quick look inside the grim, broken depths of the complex I stood outside for a while, meditating on the crumbling concrete exterior soon to become a mere memory in the minds of the hundreds, if not thousands of people that had once lived there. Where do the living ones live now? Rents are not getting any lower in Helsinki, and the job market shows no signs of impro; hopefully these people have found reasonable homes after moving out of Jakomäentie 4.
It was one of those dull-grey November afternoons when the sun starts to fade before it has even had a chance to rise, draping the world in an oppressive blanket. At 4pm sharp, the kids with their spraypaint and beer bottles came, and I hopped on my bike to pedal out and off.
There was a letter lying next to this envelope with a whole story of infidelity, estrangement and hospitalization told in it. I was going to publish a picture with names and other identifying details blurred out, but decided against it as the world is, in the end, a very small place and there is no guarantee that somebody with an interest won’t see it and recognize it by the context alone. The words on the envelope next to the broken heart say “My love!”.