Sunday, September 25, 2011

In the Beginning...

...there were thousands upon thousands of islands.  The number of islands depends on how you count, but the “official” figure is usually cited at 24,000 or 30,000 islands.  These islands have been rising out of the water at a rate of about one centimeter per year since the last ice age ended; the land is springing back after bearing the weight of the ice for so long.

lots of islands
The area was originally settled where the lake and river waters met the sea waters.  But because the land has been rising ever-so-steadily, this original settlement is now about 30 km inland.  As the land rose upward, the people had to move farther out into the archipelago to preserve their access to the sea.

In 1252, Stockholm was officially established in its current location, strategically located on an island between the two river channels that drain the inland Lake Mälaren into the Baltic Sea.  With the rising of the land, these channels had become too shallow for boats to navigate, and a transfer from sea vessels to lake vessels was required.  Stockholm was established to provide a secure cargo transfer point, to tax cargoes and trading activity, and to protect the inland settlements from invasion.

Over the past 759 years, Stockholm has expanded from this first island to comprise 14 islands as well as part of the mainland.  As a newcomer to Stockholm and as an architect, I am interested in how the layers of expansion manifested into the current city of Stockholm.  This blog will follow me as I wander from the very center of Stockholm, established in 1252, to the very outskirts of Stockholm, built through the 1980’s, and then back inward through the infill developments that have been paramount for the last 20 years.

In addition, I will post Little Life Stories with the (hopefully) amusing incongruencies I encounter living in a foreign country.  When I notice a Contemporary Project worth noting, I’ll post it on this page.  And I’ll post my architectural observations that don’t belong in my urban history or contemporary project pages on the Architecture Asides page.

Magnus Andersson’s Stockholm’s Annual Rings is a wealth of information, and it has been enormously helpful in my understanding of the city’s urban history.  My husband Carl has also been most helpful--without him and his html skills, this blog wouldn’t look even close to my vision.