From the prison toilet to the most comfortable city — how did the capital of Denmark change
Now all travelers are well aware that if you want to get into a fairy tale, then you have a direct road to Copenhagen! This city in Denmark is truly visually beautiful. Moreover, you can see here many fairy-tale characters live… almost live To do this, you just have to visit the museum of Hans Christian Andersen, or take a walk to the statue of his famous Little Mermaid…
Copenhagen often tops the list of cities in the world with the highest level of comfort. At the moment, the city has all the necessary infrastructure for life. According to the ECA International study, the Danish capital pleases its residents with an excellent transport system, medical facilities, cultural institutions.
Also, the country is constantly included in the United Nations Happiness Index, which has been published since 2012. During this time, Denmark regularly held a position in the top five and several times led the rating.
Surprisingly, Copenhagen became luxurious not so long ago. 200 years ago, the inhabitants of the capital were tormented by poverty, hunger and dirt. During this time, the heart of Denmark has changed so much that it can rightly be set as an example to other cities in the world. Copenhagen is particularly successful in solving environmental problems and urban infrastructure.
In the modern world, the Danes use the separate term “copenhagenization” to indicate the evolution and success of the city.
Is Copenhagen a paradise or a prison toilet?
Now the inhabitants of Denmark are officially recognized as one of the happiest nations on the planet. The capital of this country, of course, has played not a small role here. After all, this is a city where it’s nice to just walk around, see the locals, enjoy the sights… True, it is advisable to dress warmer, but it cannot be perfect, right?
However, has this city always been so fabulous as it is now? Back in the 19th century, Copenhagen was almost destroyed after the bombing of the British. And six years after this, a famous naval battle took place in the city, after which, only a citadel and destroyed boulevards on the site of old fortifications have remained. Nearby there were some suburbs (Vesterbro and Norrebro), which practically merged with the city. so almost everything was destroyed and there wasn’t all that beauty that we can see now.
Fortunately, despite all this, Copenhagen soon went through a period of intense cultural activity known as the Golden Age of Denmark.
Back to History — Copenhagen Borders
At the beginning of the 19th century, the capital, like most European cities, was fortified with various earthen ramparts to protect against enemy invasions. Then there were few gates in the city, only four: Westernport, Norreport, Esterport and Amagerport. Everything outside the gate was considered a suburb.
It is important to describe the features of the old city to better understand them. So, the three extreme points were located in the place of the railway stations with the same names. The fourth — Amagerport, was located in the south of the modern city center, near the Christianshavn area.
King of Denmark Christian IV has predicted the growth of the city, expanding all borders towards the north. This is what over the next two centuries has influenced the development of the Danish capital.
Rapid population growth
By the end of the 19th century, the population density per unit area reached a peak. 120 thousand inhabitants already lived in the capital. The Danes huddled in tight quarters with a high fire hazard. To avoid various incidents, the authorities of the capital banned any construction outside the fortifications of the city. But due to very high population growth, they still allowed to build wooden buildings.
So, the construction began in the northwestern part of the city, where residents could engage in farming and lead a quiet lifestyle. Interestingly, the name “Lakes” consists of three rectangular lakes — St. Jorgens-Sho, Pebling-Sho and Sortams-Sho. Now it is one of the main attractions of Copenhagen.
The availability of free territory has become the main problem in the city. That’s why a law on tax benefits for landlords was passed in 1802. The essence of the innovation was that apartment owners willingly rented it out, thereby making living in the city more available for families. This increased the number of residents in one house from 20 to hundreds.
It will be difficult for a modern tourist who has visited Denmark to believe that the area with new-fashioned spacious apartments in the past is four out of five separate neighborhoods lacked basic amenities.
So, Frederiksberg, Rosenørns, Allé and Frederiksstaden many years ago were considered homes for residents of the lower social class who lived in tight quarters without sunlight, plumbing and amenities.
The wretchedness and poverty of those times are also indicated by the names of the neighborhoods — the Puddle, the Louse Club, the Destroyed Cabin, the Cave of the Poor.
Many of these buildings had shaky wooden staircases along which residents climbed into their homes. But the inhabitants of the cellars suffered the most inconvenience, where there were ditches on the floor that kept the rain in spring and autumn. At this time of the year, the level of wastewater and dirt reached about six centimeters. It was then that the incidence rate of cholera, tetanus and diphtheria reached limit indicators.
The Danes of the middle class — civil servants, traders, artisans lived significantly in better conditions. They owned a whole house or apartment, and sometimes even rooms for servants. Despite this, the rooms remained cramped and devoid of light, compared to modern buildings.
Another problem Copenhagen faced was that the city gates closed at 12 a.m. and opened at 7 a.m. The system was very inconvenient for merchants and entrepreneurs who moved from city to city. Hundreds of merchants lined up at the gates. Checks, fees, customs made the process of entry into the city difficult.
By the end of the 1850s, the fortifications were demolished, and Copenhagen began to live a new life.
The capital of Denmark today
There is practically nothing left of the 18th-century system. The gap between classes was successfully bridged by social security programs. At the moment, the program is the second-largest according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. It has helped reduce Danes’ income inequality.
You can delve into the history of Copenhagen in digital format by visiting the city archive, where there are more than 700 centuries-old maps.