The city of Lahti is currently the centre of the cultural life in Päijät-Häme.

The Stone Age dwelling site of Ristola in Lahti is one of the oldest known human settlements in Finland. Lahti is mentioned for the first time in documents from 1445. At the time, the village of Lahti belonged to the parish of Hollola. In the 1870s Lahti was a typical roadside village of Häme on the highway leading from Hämeenlinna to Viipuri, but it was invigorated by the opening of the Riihimäki - St. Petersburg railway line in 1870 and the Vääksy Canal in the following year.

Lahti was granted the charter of a township in 1878, and a town charter in 1905. Owing to its good connections for communications, Lahti became a location for metal, glass, cabinetmaking and textile industries. The development of Lahti falls into distinct periods. The uniform wooden houses along Kauppalankatu street were followed by the Art Nouveau style city centre. The most important building of the early 20th century was Lahti City Hall (1912), designed by Eliel Saarinen. Also dating from these years are the Hennala barracks and the Anttilanmäki residential area of wooden houses (1912), both of which are regarded as nationally significant.

There was a marked period of development in the 1930s, producing buildings dominating the townscape that were also of architectural significance. A building boom that peaked in the early 1970s placed a growing number of inhabitants outside the city centre in new residential areas, while also developing the centre further in keeping with the development of business in the city. In the 2000s, the new Ankkuri area with lakeside streets began to be built in a former industrial zone on the shore of Lake Vesijärvi. Sibelius Hall in the port area includes parts of a century-old factory, and a park of architecture in wood is being built around this new concert and congress hall. The former Mallasjuoma brewery in the city centre is also a cultural facility at present, housing the Taidepanimo (Art Brewery) exhibition venue.

The municipality of Nastola became part of Lahti in 2016. Nastola (under the name of Uusikylä) is mentioned in sources from 1555 as a chapel of the parish of Hollola and the municipality of Nastola was founded in 1869. Nastola is known for significant prehistoric antiquities and also its manors, which emerged during a period of royal donations in the 17th century from peasant farms or local farm properties providing mounted service for the crown.

Lahden kaupunki (in English)


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