19 January 2012

Vintage Enlightenment and Despair

Vintage Copenhagen - HC Andersens Blvd 1904
What a lovely shot. Copenhagen. 1907. Vestre Boulevard. Dug up by our very own Lars Barfred.

The sign on the right reads "Bicycle Lane". Sweet. At first glance it's a nice vintage photograph - coloured for effect - of a street in Copenhagen. And then, as a Copenhagener, you realise... hey... I KNOW that street. That's City Hall on the left and Tivoli Gardens on the right. Vestre Boulevard is now named Hans Christian Andersen Boulevard.

My goodness! Look at how lovely that street is! So liveable. Like a wide street in the heart of a city should be. Look at all that space!

Then you get depressed because you remember what it's like now.

(Thanks to Jason for the link to What Was There and this image)
My Town
The 1907 photo was taken from right about where that black car is, in the middle of the intersection. H.C. Andersen's Boulevard is the most congested street in Denmark apart from the motorways. 55,000 cars a day. It carves a grey scar through the heart of the Danish capital. 250,000 pedestrians cross City Hall Square (bottom right) on a summer's day, at the mercy of the parasites. Over 20,000 bicycle users ride up and down this street each day, as well. Indeed, three of the intersections on this stretch are the most dangerous in the nation for pedestrians and cyclists.

The Dutch National Cycling Council - Fietsberaad - were amazed that a city like Copenhagen wasn't tackling this blatant problem in this report.

There was talk of burying the boulevard and reclaiming the surface space for people a few years back, but that idea disappeared. Just some mumbling about noise reduction asphalt has been heard from city hall.
Surveying Her Kingdom
Here's the boulevard from above, in the same direction as the first vintage photo.
City Hall Facing South, Copenhagen
Same area. Amazing to see what this street used to be like and could be like again if there were any political vision coming out of the city hall, above.
As it is now, six lanes of cars roar through the heart of our city. At speed limits far too high for such a densely-populated area.

The vintage photo is, at once, enlightening and depressing.