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A Panorama of Stockholm (1897)
Photograph by Ernst Roesler


A four part panorama from the Mosebacke water tower at Södermalm in Stockholm. Click on this image to view the full sized panoramic view, which on screen is appr. 62 centimeters wide (360 K). Put the mouse pointer over different parts and read what you see in the status bar! This is Stockholm of 1897, a year when Sven Hedin returned from his first Asian expedition, S.A. Andrée embarked on his balloon voyage to the North pole, and August Strindberg wrote ”Inferno”. This was also the year of the big Stockholm Art and Industrial Fair. The Industrial Hall at the fair can be seen in this picture in the middle of the third quadrant (and below). Stockholm has hosted a few other large fairs through the years. In 1909 the big event was the exhibition of handicraft and industrial arts, and in 1930 a fair displayed Swedish design and architecture, especially functionalism. When this is being written Stockholm is the Cultural Capital of Europe '98. Photograph by Ernst Roesler (the other photographers are anonymous).

The entrance to the Stockholm Art and Industrial Fair of 1897. This view is from Strandvägen across the Djurgårdsbron bridge. The tall pavillion in the middle is the Industrial Hall, designed by the famous architect Ferdinand Boberg. To the right is The Nordic Museum, at this time not yet finished.

Stockholm and the Stockholmians

A ”Globe-trotter's” impressions.

(From Guides of the Swedish Tourist's Club No 14, Stockholm-Leipzig, 1896)

The geographical position of the Capital of Sweden is so well known, that it is not necessary to mention it here. Let it suffice to say, that at the confluence of the fresh waters of Lake Mälar, with the salt waters of the Baltic, the beautiful city of Stockholm sits enthroned on her everlasting rocks, her feet washed by the pure and limpid waters of lake and ocean. The age of the Capital is not so very great, but enough to be quite respectable. Birger Jarl, who was the ruler of Sweden in the middle of the thirteenth century, and a statesman in his day equal to Bismarck in our time, perceived what a splendid location the present site of Stockholm was for a fortified gateway to the rich valley of Lake Mälar; and he is reported to have said that, "since the Lord had made a gate at this spot, he would put a lock on it," and then proceeded to build and fortify the town; hence he is considered the founder of Stockholm and honoured accordingly.

View from Karlavägen at Östermalm. To the left, the so called Industrial Palace, situated between the streets Artillerigatan and Skeppargatan, opposite to the Östra Real high school. Earlier this had been a circus building, but at the turn of the century it served as a museum of commerce. It was completely destroyed by fire in 1913.

For its beauty of scenery and its unique situation, Stockholm is unsurpassed by any city in Europe, or elsewhere, for that matter. We read in Holy Writ that the man who built his house on a rock was a wise man, in contradistinction to the fellow who built his house on the sands, and if we take this as a criterion, then those who built Stockholm must have all been wise men; for their city is literally founded on the rocks. The old city, "the city between the bridges,"  as it is aptly called by the Stockholmians, is built on a large island Iying in the middle of the short rapids which form the outlet of Lake Mälar North of the rapids and connected with the "Old City" by the Norrbro (North Bridge), is the north part of the city, called "Norrmalm."  It is the largest and handsomest part of the city. The principal hotels, theatres, museums, scientific and art associations are located here. South of the "Old City" the rocks rise abruptly from the water's edge and form a steep, and in some places perpendicular wall. On the top of this cliff, the south part of the city, "Södermalm,"  is built. Two or three streets, one of which is cut through the solid rock, slope gradually up from the water to the top of the cliff. There are also two large lifts, the St. Catherine and the St. Mary, carrying passengers from the strand up the face of the rocky wall to the level of the streets above. The view from the top of these lifts over the harbour and the central and northern parts of the city, is novel and very beautiful.

Interior from the Hotel Rydberg. The hotel was situated overlooking the Royal Palace at the Gustavus Adolphus Square, and it was closed down in 1914. Today it is mostly remembered through a menu item at many restaurants, the Beef Rydberg, which originally included fillet or thick flank together with kidney from lamb, calf or pig, cut and sliced togther with potatoes, boiled with bouillon. Today it is mostly fillet and potatoes cut into cubes and fried.

But if the rocks form a solid foundation for the city, and furnish it with many unique aspects, the beautiful waters add a still greater charm. The large inland lake, Mälar, stretches away to the westward for nearly eighty miles, its innumerable bays and inlets winding in all directions north and south. All the water drained from the vast watgrsheds surrounding Lake Mälar, escapes into the Baltic by the short, turbulent rapids spanned by the North Bridge; * (see p. 21) and this clear, swift stream, running through the very heart of the city, keeps it ever clean and healthful; whatever is drained into the stream from surface or sewer, being instantly carried away. The wide expanse of water surrounding the city and separating it so picturesquely into islands forming small bays, inlets, and coves on all sides, and bearing on its bosom all manner of craft, from the large trade steamers to the small ferries, steam launches and pleasure-boats, forms a central part of the living picture of the city which in unique beauty has scarcely a counterpart in the world.

Skate-sailers at Saltsjöbaden.

Next to the rocks and the water, the parks, woods, and spots of verdure appearing on every side are the most prominent feature of the city. Wherever a vacant space has made room for a park, a flowerbed, or a tree, the Stockholmian love of nature has made such places blossom like a rose. The numerous islands surrounding the city, are decked with verdure, benevolent nature doing her best to cover the hard grey rocks with her softening mantle of green, and rearing on their slopes stately elms, birches, lindens, and large knotted oaks several hundred years old.

Paul B. Du Chaillu, anent Stockholm, says: "A delightful impression is made upon the stranger, who, on a bright June day, enters the picturesque and charming city of Stockholm. Built partly upon eight islands, connected by bridges, in the short river which forms the outlet of Lake Mälar, it possesses romantic features unlike those of any other capital. The massive palace, the open squares, the museums, gardens. libraries, scientific institutions, schools, churches, statues, and bridges; its splendid quays, which form the finest feature of the city, and at which vessels are continually loading and unloading; the numerous miniature steamboats, which fill the office of omnibuses, carrying passengers to and fro, either from one island to another or to the main-land; and the abundant evidences of good government and prosperity, all combine to make it one of the most attractive of European cities."

Nowhere will a stranger find a more polite and honest people, as a whole. The present scribe has shaken hands with people of several nationalities, but it is his belief, that for general good nature, honesty, and unselfishness, the Stockholmians easily carry off the palm.

In Stockholm, you may address any person you chance to meet, and ask the way to any street or public building you may be in search of, - the Swede will not only stop and answer you politely, but will frequently walk around the corner or down the street for some distance so as to be sure you don't go amiss, and when you thank him for his kindness, he will take off his hat, smile, and bow as gracefully, and look as pleased as if you  had done him  a service instead of troubling him. Once when I first came to Stockholm, I ventured to ask an elegantly clad gentleman apparently between forty and fifty, if he would kindly tell me the way to a certain address that I was in search of; he gave me very good directions in first-rate English, and I thanked him and proceeded on my way, but after going up the street a few rods, I turned off into a side-street which, it seems, was not the right one, for I had not gone many steps around the corner, before the gentleman came hurrying after me, all out of breath, and told me I had gone wrong. Then this most accommodating person actually took a ten minutes' walk out of his way to be sure I came to my destination properly. I think there are not many places in the world where a stranger is shown such kind attention as this.

The late Mayor Harrison, of Chicago, said to me after his return from his last trip around the world: "I tell you, my boy, that the best people I have met in my "globe-trottings" are the Swedes, and particularly the Stockholmians; you discover at once by their appearance and behaviour that they are well educated; their buildings, homes, and surroundings show refinement and good taste; they are as polite and obliging to strangers as we are to our friends, and I believe they are absolutely honest. I could not talk with them, but I kept my pockets full of silver, and when I bought anything or paid for my entertainment, I took out a handful of silver and asked then to take what they wanted, and I am sure I was never cheated out of a penny, on the contrary they frequently took so little that I was surprised at the cheapness of things." Mayor Harrison was known as a keen observer of men and manners, and his testimony about the Swedes stands high.

The public works of the city are built and cared for in a manner that is worthy of emulation by richer and larger cities than Stockholm. The great and substantial stone quays, the iron and stone bridges, and well paved streets, testify to the thoroughness and character of a municipality which may justly be proud of the splendid exhibit it makes of well constructed and well kept public works.

The streets are kept exceedingly clean, and everybody must sweep before his door. There are street-cleaning companies that do the work, but the property-owner makes a contract with the cormpany, paying a stipulated amount for keeping his part of the street, as well as his yard, clean, but if he prefers to do it himself, he is not obliged to employ the company. The street and yard must, however, be swept every morning, and the sweepings removed before 8 o'clock in the summer and 10 o'clock in winter. The policeforce see that it is done both properly and in time.

Stockholm has an excellent police-force, - handsomely uniformed, stalwart fellows armed with sabers; (see p. 71) but what on earth they are there for would puzzle a stranger to find out; for a more orderly community than Stockholm, with less crime and less occupation for the guardians of peace, I don't imagine any "globetrotter" has yet discovered.

There is also a well organized and excellently drilled fire-brigade, with general headquarters near St. John's Church and with district stations at different places throughout the city, equipped with modern fire-extinguishing and life-saving apparatuses, but the houses being mostly built entirely of brick, stone and iron, the fire-brigade is seldom needed.

A cab stand. The anonymous author of this tourist guide says: "... be it said to the praise of the Stockholm cabbies; for they have a fixed fare for driving to every part of the city and the surrounding country. This list of fares is printed and supplied with the number, name, and address of the cabman. Several copies of this fare-list are always to be found in a pocket in every cab in Stockholm, and you may take one free of charge. But even if you cannot read this list (called in Swedish: 'Taxemärke'), the cabbies are very honest and will not take too high a fare. If you feel disposed to give the cab-driver 25 öre (about three-pence) he is very thankful and will frequently take off his cap for this little tip, but if you don't give him anything, he will be just as polite, and will never think of asking you for a tip. The fare for one or two persons to any place within the city limits, night or day, is one krona; for three or four persons, one krona and twenty-five öre. [...] During next year, a new system of estimating the cab-fees (taxametre system) will probably be introduced."

The newest part of the city, gives evidence that architecture has been studied to some purpose by the present generation of builders. On Strandvägen, the new and handsome street that leads from the city to Djurgården there are a number of large and imposing residences of perfect proportions and great beauty. One is prone to ask how the people can afford to erect such splendid structures, that would do honour to a metropolis like London or Paris; but this is easily explained by the fact that even very wealthy people rent appartments in preference to villas.

On Birger Jarl's Gata, Sturegatan (see p. 8), Karlavägen, Valhallavägen, Narvavägen, and several other streets in the north-east part of the city, are many large and handsome dwellings. The streets are wide, well paved, and several are boulevarded, with a handsome strip of park in the centre, such as Karlavägen (see p. 71), Valhallavägen, Narvavägen, etc. The "craggy, rocky places" within the precincts of Östermalm, will soon be only a memory, and the modern, elegant city, with its wide avenues, and smooth streets, will become a present, living fact.

That Stockholm is a Capital and the Seat of Government is evident to any observant traveller. In this respect, Stockholm resembles Washington. State offices are met with everywhere. The whole of Riddarholmen, with few exceptions, is occupied by State buildings, and the entire island, Skeppsholmen, is appropriated to the use of the navy.

In the north-eastern part of the city are several large and handsome barrack buildings occupied by the Guard Regiments, and adjoining them, just outside the city limits, is a large undulating plain where the different regiments are drilled and exercised in the art of war.

In Stockholm the officers of the army and navy are to be met with at every turn, sometimes in civil dress, but generally in uniform, and wearing their sabers. Describing the annual Palace Ball on the King's birthday, some one said that there were fifteen hundred people present and that five hundred of them were lieutenants. This last statement may be an exaggeration, and probably is, but there are plenty  of them, at all events, - handsome, well-educated young fellows. Any country may be proud of a corps of officers so well equipped for their work as these are.

* The southern arm of the outlet to Lake Mälar is filled up, only a large enough opening being left for the locks by which vessels are conveyed up and down between Lake Mälar and the Baltic. [Back]

The captions are, except where is otherwise stated, written by the Art Bin editor.

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