chapter  24
12 Pages

Gendering the Automobile

Men, Women and the Car in Helsinki, 1900–1930
WithTeija Försti

The automobile was a new technological invention and a material object, but it became meaningful in relation to social and cultural practises. This chapter aims to demonstrate how the emergence of the automobile shaped life in Helsinki, the capital of Finland. 'Motorcar trips are comfortable and especially popular among the ladies. No stress, just motion and fun'. Before the motorcars eventually appeared on the market and the streets of Helsinki, newspapers and magazines began to familiarize the reading audience with the concept. In May 1900, the first motorcar arrived in Finland as Benz Velo Comfortable was imported from Lübeck in Germany to Turku on the south-west coast of Finland by businessman Victor Forselius. Before automobiles, cycling as a sport and leisure activity had attracted especially young men in Helsinki. The reception of the car in Finland resembles the early history of the automobile in other European countries and in the United States.