The first people arrived in Kerava about nine thousand years ago. The site was selected with hunting prospects in mind; taking advantage of the seashore in Pisinmäki along the road leading to Ahjo. Inhabitants hunted beavers, wolves, ringed seals and pike. Lightweight huts covered with birch bark or leather functioned as dwelling places.
Stone-age inhabitants moved around over the year after their prey. Kerava remained a hunting ground until the middle ages. It is estimated that in the mid-16th century the population of Kerava was only about 160. Kerava was purely a rural community after the Häme hunting era, all the way to the year 1862, when the railway was built, and at that time there were about 450 inhabitants.
Railway to industrialisation
The Helsinki-Hämeenlinna railway opened for traffic in 1862. It also enabled the industrialisation of Kerava. Initially came the brick factories and Finland's first cement plant to Savio in 1869. Kerava then gained importance when the Porvoo private railway was completed in 1874. Also, the Russian garrison in Hyyrylä increased Kerava's importance as a junction station. In 1880, the population of Kerava was up to 649 and a tile factory and rocket factory opened their doors in addition to the brick factories. The Kerava station building was completed in 1878.
The coat of arms of Kerava was designed by the well-known heraldist Ahti Hammar. The golden "carpenter's crown" in the coat of arms represents the joining and dovetailing performed by a carpenter. The coat of arms is inspired by the importance the wood industry had in the development of Kerava. Keravan Puusepäntehdas (Eng. Kerava carpentry factory) was established by six carpentry apprentices who had transferred there from Porvoo. The ownership of the factory was later transferred to Stockmann. Kerava was once known as a place specifically for carpenters and Keravan Puusepäntehdas was the biggest and most renowned public space furnisher of Finland. For example, the furniture of the Parliament House is made in Kerava.
In the middle ages, Kerava belonged administratively to Sipoo. As of 1643, when the parish of Tuusula was founded, Kerava was part of Tuusula. Kerava became a township in 1924 and at that time the population was 3,083. Also, Korso was part of Kerava in the beginning. Kerava became a town in 1970.
Kerava, a little big town
Kerava started shaping into a modern town with its pedestrian streets and parks in the 1970s due to its good transport connections and strong migration. The housing fair in the 1970s, among others, increased awareness towards Kerava, and the population almost doubled during that time. Those who moved to Kerava were largely people who have "arrived by train", i.e. young and skilled people who have studied in Helsinki.
Today, the people of Kerava enjoy life in an active town, which offers activities and events for every occasion. For example, how do Garlic festivals, Summer flea markets or a Circus market sound?
Several companies operate in Kerava as well, providing employment for many inhabitants. Major employers of Kerava include Oy Sinebrychoff Ab, Tuko Logistics Oy and Metos Oy Ab. Also, Kerava seeks 100% job self-sufficiency.
Great people of Kerava
Over the years, several well-known people have lived in Kerava. Here are some of the best known.
J.K. Paasikivi was the seventh President of the Republic of Finland in the years 1946-1956. Paasikivi bought the Manor of Jukola in 1917 and was in residence until his presidential years. Paasikivi was quite a progressive farmer. As the Senator arrived at the train station, he had the habit of walking around with his walking cane and dressed in an overcoat, inspecting the fields of the house.
Jean Sibelius is the best known and most respected Finnish composer, who wrote, among others, the famous Finlandia anthem in 1899. Sibelius lived in Kerava in the years 1898-1902. Sibelius moved from Helsinki to Kerava in late autumn of 1898 in order to get peace for working and to be closer to nature.
Jean Sibelius composed several choral works and solo songs in Kerava, of which the best known are "Säv, säv susa" (Reed, Reed, Rustle), "Svarta rosor" (Black Roses) and "Demanten på marssnön" (The Diamond on the March snow). It is told that Sibelius gathered inspiration for "the Diamond on the March snow" as he was admiring the glistering snow-covered fields of the Mattila house in the spring sun.
Akseli Gallen-Kallela painted descriptive works of Kalevala, the national epic of Finland, and he is considered one of the most important painters in Finland. Gallen-Kallela lived in a villa by Aurinkomäki, or the Helleborg hill, for a relatively short period of time in the winter of 1904. Built at the end of the last century, the building now serves as the Kerava art school.
Olympic champion and champion runner Volmari Iso-Hollo (1907-1969) is the role model for every athlete of Kerava. Volmari Iso-Hollo was at the peak of his career during the Los Angeles Olympic Games in 1932. He was the undisputed winner of the 3,000 metre steeplechase and the silver medalist of the 10,000 metre competition. Iso-Hollo was a five time Finnish champion and held seven world records in his lifetime.
Even though rheumatoid stopped his career, Iso-Hollo was still able to renew his steeplechase victory in the Berlin Olympics and obtain a bronze medal in the 10,000 metre run.
A statue of Volmari Iso-Hollo is located on a square named after him in Kerava. The statue was made by sculptor Erkki Kannosto in 1994.
Finnish writer and priest Arvi Järventaus arrived in Kerava to serve as priest 1923. The parish bought the gorgeous wooden manor of Dr. Waenerberg for him. The manor is still used by the parish of Kerava.
The old parsonage was once a popular place to visit for artists, because Järventaus was close friends with Eino Leino, Larin-Kyösti, Hj. Nortamo, Pekka Halonen and Ilmari Kianto.