The railway connection to St. Petersburg is completed.
St. Petersburg was the largest major city, and it drew Finns for many reasons. The majority of those who moved there were artisans, industrial workers, and servants. In the heyday of craftsmanship in Helsinki in the first half of the nineteenth century, St. Petersburg supplanted Gothenburg as the leading place for Finnish artisans to learn the latest trends and innovations in their trade.
There was almost unlimited demand for artisanal products in St. Petersburg, and apprentices earned well there while under the tutelage of master craftsmen. Many artisans who went to St. Petersburg stayed there permanently. A great many of Helsinki’s goldsmiths learned or perfected their trade in the Russian capital, and a notable proportion of Helsinki’s bakers were drawn by St. Petersburgers’ prodigious bread consumption.
Many of the master bakers in St. Petersburg were Finnish or German by birth. Although it was not compulsory for artisans to join a guild – as it was in Finland until 1868, and in Sweden – a large proportion of the community of artisans of foreign origin in St. Petersburg organized in accordance with central European tradition. The exodus of artisans from Helsinki slowed down from the 1870s onwards, since the growth of industry in Finland and increasing economic freedom brought a strong demand for workers.
Knowledge, skill, goods, and customs passed back and forth between Helsinki and St. Petersburg through the hands and minds of individuals. The vigorous interchanges between the two cities led to a thriving spread of information. Immigrants to St. Petersburg wrote home about their new lives and surroundings, and homecomers brought souvenirs and other goods with them.
Tourists also brought influences with them from St. Petersburg – the latest Russian fashions were copied, and shopping expeditions were made in search of clothing and fabrics. The St. Petersburg elite and the wealthy bourgeoisie, for their own part, brought other fashions and innovations to Russia from their foreign travels, and it was not long before these too found their way to Helsinki.