By the start of the eighteenth century, Helsinki had become the fourth most important port of importation after Stockholm, Gävle, and Gothenburg. The town had grown into an important military centre also. The fortification of Sveaborg – Viapori in Finnish – was the home port of the Swedish coastal fleet. Between the town, Sveaborg fortification, and the town garrison, Helsinki had a population of almost 8000. Turku had about 10,000 residents at that time.
The Sweden-Russia War was waged on Finnish soil from 1808-1809. Russia occupied Helsinki on 3 March 1808, with Sveaborg surrendering in a bloodless siege on 8 May 1808.
Helsinki burned down on Thursday 17 November of that year – the last great fire it endured, which destroyed a quarter of the town. The fire started on the site owned by the widow Dobbin in the eastern part of the town, which is nowadays the beginning of Aleksanterinkatu.
The Diet of Porvoo took place from 25 March until 19 July 1809, during which Emperor Alexander I of Russia granted his sovereign pledge to Finland’s estates. The King of Sweden ceded his kingdom’s eastern provinces, which constituted Finland’s Grand Duchy, in the Treaty of Fredrikshamn (Hamina in Finnish) on 17 September 1809. Alexander I thereby became Grand Duke of Finland, until 1825.
The Committee for Finnish Affairs was formed in November 1811, operating under the principle that all its members had to be Finns. R.H. Rehbinder was chosen as State Secretary, and G.M. Armfelt as the committee’s chairman. 1811 saw the establishment of a host of central bureaus: the State Medical Collegium, the postal authority, the Office of the Superintendent of Public Works and Loans Bureau. The Vyborg Governorate became part of Finland in 1812. Viipuri and the Karelian isthmus had been lost to Russia in the Treaty of Nystad in 1721.
The Government Council, later renamed the Imperial Senate of Finland, and all its central bureaus are relocated to Helsinki.
1825 – 1855
Nicholas I is Grand Duke of Finland.
The seat of the county governor is transferred to Helsinki. The province of Häme-Uusimaa is divided into two separate provinces in 1831.
Steamboat traffic begins, connecting Stockholm, Helsinki, and St. Petersburg.
St. Nicholas’ Church – now Helsinki Cathedral – is consecrated.
A telegraph connection between Helsinki and St. Petersburg comes into operation.
The first gasworks is founded, and the first gaslight is lit at the inauguration of the New Theatre.
Finland receives its own currency. The Finnish mark is valued at one-quarter of a gold rouble.
Finland’s first railway line is opened between Helsinki and Hämeenlinna.
The Finnish mark is index-linked to the price of silver, and delinked from the rouble.
1867 – 1868
The last years of severe hunger in Finland. During the famine years, eight percent of the Finnish population died of hunger.
Uspenski Cathedral is completed.
The Russian-language Alexander Theatre is founded.
A Finnish-language theatre is founded.
A new local government act and the first session of Helsinki City Council, chaired by Senator Leo Mechelin.
The Finnish Mark is index-linked to the gold standard.
Finland’s first cross-country skiing competition, from the front of Valkosaari to Harmaja and back. A ski jumping competition is held at the same time, on the hill behind Uspenski Cathedral.
12 June 1890 The so-called Postimanifesti (“Postal Manifesto”) marks the beginning of nationalization attempts, in contravention of Finnish law.
18 April 1902 Cossacks violently disrupt a protest against the army draft.
The coastal railway connection (Rantarata) between Helsinki and Karjaa is completed.
General strike, “the Great Strike”. There are large protests and gatherings in Senate Square and at the Central Railway Station. The unrest in Russia spread to Finland, and even more so to what are nowadays the Baltic countries.
The Emperor issues the November Manifesto, in which he retracts his earlier decrees that are contrary to Finnish law.
Parliamentary reform. The four Estates of the Assembly of the Estates were replaced with a unicameral parliament.
The new programme for the Russification of Finland is made public.
The form of government is confirmed: the newly independent Finland is to be a parliamentary republic.
Finland accedes to the League of Nations.
The Treaty of Tartu is signed between Russia and Finland. The borders of the Finnish republic are confirmed.
The first Finnish Trade Fair is held, in Helsinki. The first Finnish-made film, Ollin oppivuodet ,“Oliver’s Apprenticeship”, is premiered in the Bio-Bio cinema in Helsinki.
Through the diplomatic intervention of the League of Nations, a peaceful settlement is reached between Sweden and Finland regarding the Åland Islands.
14 February 1922 Minister for Internal Affairs Heikki Ritavuori is murdered on Nervanderinkatu in Töölö.
Finland’s state-run broadcasting service Suomen Yleisradio is founded.
The Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact is agreed between Russia and Germany. According to the agreement, Finland and the other countries of the Baltic region come within the Soviet Union’s sphere of influence.
1944 – 1947
The Soviet-led Allied Commission is based in Helsinki.
Finland pays off the last of the 300 million US dollars in war reparations to the Soviet Union.
Ration stamps are taken out of use, and rationing of coffee comes to an end.
The Soviet Union’s lease on Porkkala ends and the region is returned to Finland.
There are 1138 registered unemployed in Helsinki, all of whom are put to work for the City.
The Nordic Mobile Telephone (NMT) network is built in Helsinki.
A referendum on EU membership is held, as a result of which Finland joins the Union.
Finland adopts the European Union’s common currency. The Euro comes into use in cash form on 1 January 2002.
Parts of Vantaa and Sipoo are amalgamated into Helsinki.
8 April 2012 Helsinki, now 462 years old, has been the Finnish capital for 200 years.