Alku and Alku Toinen

816 & 826 43rd Street
Eric O. Holmgren

In 1916, 16 families formed the Finnish Home Building Association and broke ground on two cooperative apartment buildings, Alku (meaning “beginning”), and Alku Toinen (toinen meaning “two”), the nation’s first non-profit, cooperatively-owned apartment buildings. At the time, the concept was so new that the state classified the buildings under the Department of Agriculture, which regulated cooperative farms, rather than as housing. Roughly 10 years later, Sunset Park became home to Brooklyn’s “Finntown”, with roughly 50 more co-op apartment buildings and a cooperative shopping complex.