The place names in Espoo tell stories of the city and locals.
Place names in Espoo
The place names in Espoo tell stories of the city and locals. Even the villages and houses that no longer exist still help people move about in Espoo through their names. Group names, or thematic names, signify the most typical characteristics of the area. Memorial names commemorate residents who have been important to their local community.
We identify Espoo and the places within it by their names
A suitably distinct and practical address is a part of residents’ everyday lives. Natural-feeling names are the most functional. The aim of place name planning is to attach the name to the location itself and its traditions. This way, we can build a distinctive urban environment and also preserve the old place names born out of residents’ speech.
To specify areas at a more detailed level than just the district level, the names of sub-areas are also necessary. For example, the Muurala district includes the Mikkelä sub-area. Even smaller sub-areas are called ‘major neighbourhoods’, such as Mikkelänkallio.
Names of districts and other areas come from the names of villages, houses and other significant places. The cultural heritage contained by these names is preserved even when the environment is changing. The Muurala district is named after the village of Morby, while the Mikkelä sub-area is named after a house called Mickels.
- List of street names in Espoo
There are a total of 3,242 street names in Espoo. The names were retrieved from the City of Espoo name register in June 2022.
Place name planning
Espoo is in constant need of names for new places, such as streets, squares, parks and pedestrian routes. Other subjects of place name planning include public areas and buildings, such as schools and daycare centres and bus stops, for example.
The aim of place name planning is to cherish old names and also create new, helpful and original urban place names. In the Metropolitan Area, it is particularly important to take the place names of the surrounding municipalities into account to avoid confusion.
In Espoo, the place name team of the City Planning Department is in charge of the planning, maintenance and research relating to place names. Place names are planned systematically as a part of town planning and other urban planning.
Perspectives on place names
Urban place names include the names of streets, parks and residential areas, waterways and other traditional places, as well as commercial names and unofficial names. Regarding unofficial and slang names, residents are invaluable sources of information for place name researchers.
Names can be studied from various perspectives, and many publications and articles have been written about the place names in Espoo, as well.
Where do the names come from?
The main principle of place name planning in Espoo is to use as much of the old, existing and previously used names as possible when creating new names. The place name plan is based on extensive information about the names used in the area to this day. Traditional names include names related to water, terrain, settlements and agriculture. In addition to street names, urban names include the names of areas and buildings – both official and unofficial ones. These can all be useful when planning new names.
Old names can be transferred to be used for new purposes and by new residents through plan name indexes. The area’s history and past, present and future characteristics are also worth knowing. Names based on these creates an identity for the area and make residents’ roots stronger. Finnish and Swedish plan names are planned at the same time. However, traditional names are not sufficient for all needs, which is why other naming methods also are also needed.
The theme ties a name to a place
Group names are planned place names that form an entity related to a specific theme. Names of places close to each other within the same theme belong to the same group. Well-planned place names are easy to locate: a distinctive theme ties them to a specific city district, for example. Group names are also called thematic names.
In Espoo, group names are never just the product of imagination. They are inspired by something related to the location, such as an old place name, a local characteristic or local history. For example, the space-themed names in Olari may seem very extravagant, but they are actually based on a farm named Solberga. This choice of theme has certainly made the area’s names distinctive and easy to locate.
Who can receive a memorial name?
Memorial names are planned place names typically intended to commemorate a person. They can be given to streets, paths, squares or parks, for example.
In Espoo, over a hundred persons or families have had a place named after them. The majority of places are named after men, but the proportion of women’s names has also increased.
The basic principle is that a memorial name can only be granted to a person after they have passed away, and the person must have a clear connection to the area where the place to be named is located.
Even a memorial name must be functional and safe in practice, for example, when used as an address. Names that contain both a first and last name are generally favoured. However, a name that is very long or otherwise complicated may even pose a safety risk in an emergency. The name must also be distinguishable from other names in Espoo or the surrounding municipalities.
In terms of memorial names, it is worth keeping one basic idea of place name planning in mind: we are looking for a name for a location, not a location for a name.
Books and publications
- Kylä-Espoo (in Finnish)
Espoon vanha asutusnimistö ja kylämaisema, 2008
Toim. Kaija Mallat, Sami Suviranta, Ulla Koistinen, Reima T. A. Luoto
Byarna i Esbo (in Swedish)
De gamla bebyggelsenamnen och bylandskapet 2010
Red. Kaija Mallat, Sami Suviranta, Ulla Koistinen, Reima T. A. Luoto
Saaristo-Espoo (in Finnish)
Nimistöä, luontoa, historiaa ja tulevaisuutta, 1996
Toim. Sirkka Paikkala
Skärgårds-Esbo (in Swedish)
Namnskick, natur, historia och framtid, 1997
Red. Sirkka Paikkala
Järvi-Espoo (in Finnish)
Vesistönimet, luontoa, historiaa ja tulevaisuutta, 1992
Toim. Sirkka Paikkala
Insjö-Esbo (in Swedish)
Dess vattennamn, natur, historia och framtid, 1993
Red. Sirkka Paikkala
Kuninkaantie – Kungsvägen (in Finnish – in Swedish)
Tien kulku ja vaiheet Espoossa – Vägens sträckning och öden i Esbo
Toinen painos 1989 (ensimmäinen painos 1987)
Artikkelien kirjoittajat: Sirkka Paikkala, Marja-Leena Ikkala, Kaija Mallat