On May 20, 2019, the National Register of Historic Places in the United States, listed Alku 1 and
Alku 2, located at 816 and 826 43 rd Street, Kings County Brooklyn New York, as the first two
coop buildings in the USA, built by Finnish immigrants, on the National Registry of Historic
Places. Previously, on March 21, 2019, the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and
Historic Preservation designated both buildings as Historic Sites in New York State.
The Board of Alku 1 and Alku 2 worked very hard to prepare and submit the actual application
to get the historical designation. Considerable input to that application came from Valerie
Landriscina, a licensed architect, and Cecilia Feilla, both on the Board, and Robert Alan Saasto,
Esq., who furnished extensive historical references himself, and directed the Board to other
sources in the USA and Finland to secure historical proof to establish that in fact, (1) Alku 1 and
Alku 2 were the first coop buildings in New York State and in the USA, which were built by
Finnish immigrants; and (2) that the Finnish immigrants brought the concept of cooperative
ownership to the United States.
On May 26, 2019, Robert Alan Saasto, Esq., led a tour of what was once Finntown in Sunset
Park, Brooklyn New York. The ultimate purpose was to lay the groundwork to have some of the
other 24 Finn coop buildings built around Sunset Park put plaques in their walls to commemorate
the Finns who built those buildings in the early 1900s. Alku 1 and 2 already have plans to put the
plaque on their building, and the Imatra Hall has a plaque ready to be installed! Those plaques,
plus the Finlandia Street sign at 40 th Street and 7 th Avenue, would serve as permanent visual
confirmation to anyone visiting the neighborhood as to the contribution of the Finnish
immigrants to that neighborhood.
It is the ultimate goal of Robert Alan Saasto to secure recognition of the Finns for bringing to the
USA the concept of cooperative ownership, whether it be buildings, food markets, banks, credit
unions, etc. This is a major first step towards that recognition.
Those on the tour and shown in the picture in front of what was Imatra Hall, now the
Resurrection Church, are from left to right: Johannes Kotkavirta a reporter for Ilta-Sanomat, the
second largest newspaper in Finland; Valerie Landriscina who is on the Board of Alku 1 and 2
and was very instrumental in getting the approval (with Cecilia Feilla present but not shown in
the photo); Jaana Rehnstrom President of Finland Center Foundation; Robert Alan Saasto, Esq.;
and Eero Kilpi, President of Finlandia Foundation New York Chapter.
Robert Alan Saasto, Esq.