The Golden Age of Dachas
Completion of the rail connection between Vyborg and St. Petersburg in 1870 turned the Karelian Isthmus into a very attractive summer resort for Russian families. Even before, Finland had eagerly sold land to Russians, and the latter built numerous summer villas – dachas – on the Isthmus. In early 20th century, a large part of the summer residents in the Terijoki area arrived from St. Petersburg. In addition to wealthy representatives of high society, the summer residents included businessmen, members of liberal professions, and blue-collar workers.
Many people from St. Petersburg enjoyed their life on the Isthmus, because they liked the colourful Finns, closeness to nature, and tranquillity. The summer residents brought to Terijoki a number of service-related jobs, for they needed servants and coachmen, for example. The dachas also attracted various pedlars and entertainers to the region.
Around 1910, foreigners owned approx. 5,000 villas on the Isthmus, and there were 50,000 summer residents from St. Petersburg in Terijoki alone. One of them was Elena Guro, a painter and a poet. In 1917, Finns owned no more than 10% of the 12,000 summer villas in Terijoki.