Municipal engineering
Tiina Tuulasvaara-Kaleva

Until the late nineteenth century Tampere was a town built of wood, and the constant concern of the inhabitants were fires. Until the 1820s the town's burghers took care of fire protection by taking turns in walking the streets at night. Fire guards were hired to Tampere halfway through the century and their tasks also included letting the townspeople know when the time was nine o'clock in the evening. A major fire broke out in Tampere in August 1865. The fire soon spread from merchant Hildén's firewood shed in Kauppakatu all the way to Rantakatu, i.e. the present Satamakatu. Fire protection was made tighter: a fire office was founded and fire guards circled the streets regularly, working simultaneously as night policemen. A fire brigade (V.P.K.) got an equipment room made of stone next to the Town Hall. The factories had their own fire brigades to prevent fires. Fire plugs were introduced in 1882, when the water pipes reached from Lake Näsijärvi to the city centre. The municipal fire brigade was founded in 1899. The city administrative court hired two policemen to Tampere in 1866. Their number was increased in the 1870s, when the notorious Kyttälä was annexed to the city. In the 1890s the police department became a state department, but the city was still responsible for the premises, and the jail also remained for a long time in the basement of the Town Hall.

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Tampere streets were regularly swept already in the 1820s. A more significant improvement of the municipal engineering was cobbling the streets. Round cobblestones were used to cobble first Kauppatori square and then Kauppakatu in the 1840s. An important improvement in terms of sanitation and the general health situation took place when the ditches and sewers flooding the streets were taken underground. This major undertaking was finished in 1894. The lighting of Tampere streets was an object of ridicule for visitors until September 1888, when the streets of Tampere were lighted with artificial suns, that is electric arc lamps, something that had not previously been seen in Finland. The city founded its own electricity plant and its regular premises were situated on the western bank of Tammerkoski on the site of an old mill. The planning of lots was a demanding task which often caused disputes. New areas were increasingly annexed to the city since the 1920s. After the Civil War of 1918 there was a severe housing shortage in Tampere. At first the city gave loans to construction firms which were of public utility, but later the city itself also took up building municipal and semi-municipal dwellings for Tampere inhabitants.

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