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 43rd 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a licensed architect, and Cecilia Feilla, both on the Board, and Robert Alan Saasto, Esq., who furnished extensive historical references himself, and directed the Board to other sources in the USA and Finland to secure historical proof to establish that in fact, (1) Alku 1 and Alku 2 were the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 40th Street and 7th 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.
Robert Alan Saasto, Esq.