This ordinary-looking street in the city of Oulu, Finland, at the corner of Kirkkokatu and Pakkahuoneenkatu streets (Pakkahuoneekatu is just to the right of where the frame ends), is the site of an illustrious event of questionable historical significance. One hundred and thirty-three years ago today, on November 2, 1882, a fire broke out in the basement of the building where this one on the foreground (obviously not the same building) now stands. Evidently it was a pharmacy then, and while it’s not clear exactly how the fire started, it swept through this entire Baltic town and largely destroyed it. The Great Oulu Fire of 1882 was the subject of one of my more tongue-in-cheek articles on this illustrious date back in 2013. If you read that article you’ll understand why I’m not sure why we should be commemorating the Great Oulu Fire of 1882, because I suspect it’s more of a stealthy Internet meme than a real attempt to document something important or noteworthy. But hey, I’m willing to play along, so I’m making this the second article on my blog to deal with the Great Oulu Fire of 1882. Who knows? Maybe I’ll do another one every November 2.
Actually this looks pretty typical for a Scandinavian city, with a lot of modern architecture intermixed with more traditional styles. The steeple you see in the background–I don’t know why part of it is blurred out–is that of Oulu Cathedral, originally built in 1777, of wood, and destroyed in yet another fire in 1822; in the 1830s the present stone structure was erected, with the bell tower being completed in 1845. The church managed to survive the 1882 disaster and is one of the chief historical sites in town today.
Now you probably know more about Oulu, Finland than you ever hoped to!