14 March 2014

Growing pains

Copenhagen is under pressure, growing by 1000 new inhabitants every month. In the eagerness to make room for them, the administration is making a lot of drastic moves. Destroying over renovating, and getting rid of nature to build more roads.

A lot of the new inhabitants are students, and the housing situation is impossible. Most of the cheap rentals are gone, as the lucky ones got them at a bargain when they were put up for sale. What was once a cheap rental is now a pricey piece of real estate, and you have to buy, beg and borrow to get in the game. And you can forget about the harbor area unless you are a big player...

Bank$ters

...or a bank$ter. Fortunately, it is still free to enjoy the magnificent view from Knippelsbro bridge.

The thing is that a neighborhood is only really alive when the inhabitants consist of a healthy mix. If you weed out a certain part of the population, you get an artificial environment, like the centre of Copenhagen, somehow sucked dry of life and inspiration. In many ways the city centre resembles an amusement park, and after six o’clock in the evening, it is pretty much left dead. Crowded in the daytime, dying in the evening and in some spots downright unsafe at night.

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I chased this ultra cool platinum blonde, down the new city centre pavement. Just for you.

Even if I don’t enjoy crowds, I prefer lived in neighborhoods. Traces of life is my favorite thing, so much of a neighborhoods spirit can be read this way. All these places in Copenhagen (below) are so close, yet so far apart. There is something to love about all of them. Let the tour begin:

Nordvest kvarteret, the Northwest quarter.

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Still authentic and messy with a high percentage of immigrants and plenty of affordable grocery stores. Not fancy, but alive and kicking.

Christianshavn:

Christianshavn is a strange mix of alcoholics and high society in a dreamy backdrop of canals, old wooden boats, beautiful houses and freetown Christiania.

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Details from the ever-changing plywood fence surrounding Christiania.

Caged bird

I grew up on Christianshavn, and always get at tight feeling around the chest there, that don't let go of me until I cross Knippelsbro bridge, and make it safe to the other side.

Vesterbro:

Renovated and "cleaned up" maybe a little too much. But definitely a cool place in Copenhagen, with an abundance of life and small stores, restaurants and bars. You can tell people live here, and that's what makes it work.

Dear media...

Østerbro:

I'm learning to embrace the Østerbro part of Copenhagen, bit by bit. Popular with (identical looking) families and predominantly financially secure households. The Bopa Plads (home of the wooden fruit playground) story embodies the Østerbro'ers best: recently the city terminated a lease for a popular cafe at Bopa Plads. It was no surprise to the owners, as the lease was cheap because of the short-term catch. But Østerbro pulled together and within 24 hours, the politicians in Town Hall were apologetic and withdrew the termination. Nobody messes with Østerbro (blows imaginary gun, and holster it).

Bevar Bopa Plads

Bevar Bopa Plads / Save Bopa Square. By the time they held the rally, it was nothing more than a celebration of the victory. Classic Østerbro, haha.

Bevar Bopa Plads

And good for them, for standing up for themselves. Even if it was just for cafe latte.

Frederiksberg:

Technically not Copenhagen, but wedged in between Nørrebro and Vesterbro, so there is no way around it. Home of the old and the wealthy, heaven for middle- to upper class families with children, hell for the less fortunate, especially if they have a disabled child.

Take out in high heels

Frederiksberg is a fantastic place if you love trees.

Tree trumps metal. As it should be.

Frederiksberg has a tree policy in place, something Copenhagen has yet to implement (the title of European Green Capital 2014 not withstanding). A clear stance that shows the second you cross the otherwise invisible city border, with plenty of big, healthy and well protected trees. Maybe, just maybe if I get to be really old and really wealthy, I will consider moving there. But what are the chances of that?

(Skipping a few neighborhoods here, can't fit them all in, in one post)

Nørrebro:

What can I say? Home. Refusing to give up just yet, despite heavy pressure from frozen yoghurt places, tapas- and wine bars and nasty chain stores moving closer every day. A message from Spyo:

Skrid hip / Get lost hip(ster)  
Get lost Hip(ster).

A message that can't be entirely removed, but lingers as an echo. Kind of poetic.

Some things you can't take back

The diversity of Nørrebro, in a single picture:

2200 Kbh N

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Spørg det er gratis / Ask it's for free. Og intet er dyrt / And nothing is expensive.

Nørrebro still has a decent share of low income households, which ironically contributes to the life so sought after by the buyers. In a recent development the gangs are moving closer to the fancy part of Nørrebro, hovering in groups at the corners, warning people off with evil stares. They are empowered by the marijuana trade, which is one of the reasons our Lord Mayor is pleading with the government, to allow Copenhagen to legalize it. A sure way to take the source of income and power away from the gangs. Unfortunataly, the politicians would rather increase the budget for the approach proven not to work. Obviously they don't live in the real world, and the money they spend so recklessly, not their own.

On behalf of Copenhagen, can I just say:

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5 comments:

  1. A great read! Hope it's to be continued. Have you thought about including some of the neighbourhoods more far away? So far, I've always lived in a place between Osterbro and Hellerup everytime I moved to Copenhagen (3rd time in May - I keep going back...), and it's boring. I keep exploring the city, but I have the feeling that I don't know enough to discover it properly - where to go, etc. I have my established paths, of course, but I grew a bit weary of them. I'm afraid my 3rd move to Cph will be the last one for the time being, so I can't waste any more energy on my usual track!
    Anyway, keep up the good work!
    Cheers,
    Matylda

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    1. So happy that you like it. It will be continued over time, but not right away. There are still areas of Copenhagen I need to explore more. Amager is on top of that list. On routines, I know exactly what you mean, I find myself moving in a certain pattern too, but I try to remind myself to take different ways than the usual, and once in a while explore unknown territory.

      When I travel I like to get familiar with a certain area, and then widen the circle, every time I visit. Eventually it becomes like a puzzle, and it is the biggest rush when you manage to fit the pieces together. Like mapping in the mind. : )

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  2. I stayed in Frederiksberg last summer...love it, love CPH!

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