Stockmann Department Store, Helsinki
At the beginning of Mannerheim Avenue is the largest retail building in Finland with the official name Stockmannin Helsingin keskustan tavaratalo (Stockmann's Department Store in the center of Helsinki), more often referred to simply as "Stockmann". Its history began in 1858, when Adolf Törngren, the owner of a glass factory in Nuutajärvi, decided to open a shop in the center of Helsinki to sell his products. The store opened on the first floor of a house built by the merchant Alderman Lamp, at the corner of Helenenkatu and Kauppatori Square. Terngren assigned Georg Stockmann, an enterprising German from Lübeck who worked as a bugalter and cashier at the factory, to run the store.
In 1860, Stockmann became a Finnish citizen, and 2 years later a merchant. Then Törngren offered him to buy out the store in ownership and even lent his former clerk 10 thousand rubles to expand the business. So there was a Stockmann's Store. In 1880, the store moved to Senat Square, acquiring some features of versatility - 4 departments sold glass, porcelain, metal products and fabrics. The staff consisted of only 12 employees. Then the company began to open branches in other parts of the city, and by the 20th century it was already a real retail chain operating under one brand. In 1911, the entrepreneur began to buy houses that stood on the site of the current department store, and in 1916 announced an architectural competition. The winner was the project of the brothers Valter and Ivar Thome. However, a year later, a revolution took place in Russia and a civil war began, in which both architects were shot by communist soldiers. After the end of the war and Finland's independence, construction began under the leadership of Sigurd Frosterus, who won second place in an architectural competition. The first stage was the construction of a two-story building on the Esplanade, opposite the Swedish Theater, which was opened to buyers in 1922. The building was built with such a safety margin that it allowed to build on new floors and now this building of the department store has 6 floors.
Construction of the main Art Deco syle building, which occupies an entire block between Mannerheiminite and Keskuskatu, began in the summer of 1928. At the first stage, four floors were built, in this form the department store was opened on November 24, 1929, becoming the largest in Northern Europe. However, the finishing works were carried out for another year. The new shopping complex has incorporated all the innovations of the era: a continuous operation elevator (paternoster), escalators, and a sprinkler fire extinguishing system. In the mid-thirties, three more floors were added, if you look closely, you can see the difference in brick shades of the upper and lower parts. Tod's roof was topped by a ventilation shaft tower. On it you can see the logo of the department store, depicting escalators, the primacy of which in Finland is attributed to the department store. In fact, escalators first appeared in a department store in Turku. Today, the Stockmann Helsinki Center is visited by more than 17 million customers a year, it is still the largest shopping center in Northern Europe, and ranks fifth among European shopping complexes.