- Hills parks in Stockholm were built in the late 1800s
- They were meant to bring nature close to the city residents
- These parks were designed to appear as genuine creations of Mother Nature
- Hills were considered to be difficult to build on and easy to turn into parks
The population of Stockholm was increasing rapidly in the latter half of the nineteenth century, what brought many issues that the authorities and the residents needed to tackle. One of them was the decreasing quality of public areas that were not designed to accommodate that many people. Bad air was also becoming an issue with the increase of traffic in the city.
In order to overcome these complex challenges, a special committee was formed led by the lawyer and politician Claes Albert Lindhagen. The committee presented a general plan for street regulation in Stockholm in 1866. The foundation of many parks around the city was among the most important ideas presented in the plan.
Many hills in residential areas such as Norrmalm, Södermalm, and Kungsholmen were selected to be turned into parks. Part of the reason was the fact that hills were harder to build on but there were other factors that supported this idea. It was considered relatively easy to turn these areas into parks, air at the elevated level was viewed as better, and they offered beautiful expansive views.
The main motivation behind these parks was giving city residents the opportunity to experience benefits of rural nature. They were meant to be as close to people as possible so that they could spend their free time surrounded by nature.
In sync with this philosophy was also the design of the parks. They were not meant to be artistic in any way but rather as natural as possible to appear as if they had been there forever. These parks later revolutionised the way Stockholmers experience nature areas in the city but the process had taken a while so we will get back to that shortly.
Around the time when Lindhagen presented his city plan, Kronoberget, the hill on which Kronobergsparken stands, formed the boundary between the city and the countryside. Not too far west from the hill stood the customs gate which was a place with a bad reputation among the residents who tried to avoid it at all costs.
Works on the park began in 1883 when the long process of stocking up soil on top of the hill began. Not only did this process take around three years but the planting itself was delayed until 1891. This took a few more years but it was the fact that the construction was interrupted several times, which caused that the park was not ready before 1912 when the last sections along Polhemsgatan dividing the park from the Police House (Polishuset) were finished.
The character of the park changed completely, however, in the late 1930s. It was then that Stockholmers were allowed to walk on the lawns for the first time, enjoy a meal on the grounds of the park and let their children play freely. This move was greatly appreciated by the residents at the time, and its consequences still are, as these activities belong to some of the most characteristic summer pleasures of Stockholmers.
In the following few decades, even a dedicated children playground and a ball court were built in the park to support outdoor family activities.
Almost at the same time, in 1885, the construction of another hill park began in Vasastaden. Just like in the previous case, it took many years to bring enough soil to this hill. Interestingly, trash from a nearby dump was also used as filling of planting surfaces in this area. Finally, in 1893, a large number of trees and shrubs were planted in some parts of the park while others were still under development.
Thanks to a document written in 1894 we know that 1,900 cartloads of soil were needed only in the western part of the park, which gives us an idea about why it took so long to complete it. Works in the park continued until 1898 and later again between 1900 and 1903 when the main parts were completed.
The most interesting buildings standing in the 90,000-square-metre park were built in the following years. The St. Stephen’s Church (Stefanskyrkan) stood ready in 1904 and the Vanadis Water Reservoir, named after the Norse Goddess of love, sex, and beauty just like the park itself, was completed in 1914.
The scale of construction works in Stockholm in the late 1800s is perfectly illustrated by the parks we talk about in this post. Tegnérlunden, the closest of these parks to the city centre, also started its life in 1883. After a few years of stocking up soil on the hill and planting hundreds of trees and shrubs, it was open to the public in 1894.
Tegnérlunden was, however, modernised extensively in the 1940s when a new playground, as well as flowerbeds and benches, were built. Essentially the entire western part of the renovated, now more aesthetically pleasing park, was reserved for children.
At this time, the statue of August Strindberg was placed in the park, too. The story behind this statue is not so simple, though. Finding the right place for the memory of the popular Stockholmer turned out to be quite a challenge for the authorities.
They were so dedicated to it that they had a wooden replica of the bronze sculpture made to be able to try how it would look at different places around the Swedish capital. Holger Blom, the city architect at the time, later said that they tested 17 different locations before they decided to put the statue in Tegnérlunden.
The hill parks in Stockholm are definitely some of the unique places in the city that you should not miss. Therefore, I recommend you spending some time in at least one of them when you need a little break from the city wandering or even planning a nice summer picnic at these beautiful places isolated from the rush of the city and offering nice views.
If you would like to discover more interesting places in Stockholm and most importantly, get to truly know them, check out some of the earlier posts on Trevl and come back for more as we publish a few new stories every week. To keep yourself updated on the latest news from Trevl, sign up for our newsletter or join us on Facebook.
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Norbelie, Harald, 1992. Vårt Kungsholmen.
Asker, Bertil, 1986. Stockholms parker. Innerstaden.