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Planning of place names

The official names of streets, parks, plazas and squares are so-called “plan place names”. Names are given to places in the detailed planning process. Helsinki has nearly 8,000 plan place names. Some one hundred new place names are added to the list yearly. Place names are signposts, give places an identity and serve as reminders of the local history.

Place names are planned with the goal of connecting places firmly to the history of the area, to the surrounding neighbourhood or to the natural environment. When an area needs a large number of new place names, so-called group place names can be used, and the names stem from a particular theme.

A place name has to be effective in both Finnish and Swedish, and a place name can appear in Helsinki only once. Names that closely resemble each other are avoided. The place names of the neighbouring cities are included in the consideration. An established place name is not altered without a weighty reason.

Honouring people and enterprises in place names

A street, square, park or other place can be commemoratively named after a person, enterprise or some other entity following the below principles:

  • The person and his/her actions are generally considered to be worthy of commemoration.
  • The person is notably and positively connected to the place named after him/her.
  • The person was born or lived most of his/her life or made a remarkable career in Helsinki.
  • The person has been deceased for five years or more.
  • The enterprise or other body has ceased operations.
  • The enterprise or other entity has operated in the same place for many generations and has great local importance.

Decisions on names

Official place names are assigned in connection of detailed plans and revisions to detailed plans. They are approved first by the Urban Environment committee, then by the City Board and finally by the City Council. Proposals for place names are made to the area planner by the place name committee.

The City Board appoints 6–9 members to the place name committee for a set term as well as their personal alternates. The committee comprises experts of many different fields. Matters are presented to the committee by the place name planner at the Urban Environment Division, who also acts as the committee secretary.

Place name committee (in Finnish)

06.12.2019 18:47