Scandinavia has a reputation for being progressive and the Strøget is a great example of how Denmark has used this forward thinking to improve quality of life and gain a competitive advantage in the global marketplace. In 1962, following years of increased traffic congestion in central Copenhagen, Danes put their collective heads together and came up with the idea of closing a network of streets to vehicular traffic. Actually, the city had done so over the Christmas holidays during the 1950s but it wasn’t until 1962 that duplicitous government officials extended the closure indefinitely; the streets have remained closed ever since.
Today, the Strøget is the world’s longest pedestrian shopping district (1.6km/1 mile) and home to some of the city’s most exclusive shops, including Illum’s department store and Royal Copenhagen (porcelain). A major tourist attraction, the street draws over a quarter million pedestrians daily during the busy summer months and a healthy 120,000 during the winter months. The atmosphere is utterly delightful summer or winter as individuals enjoy strolling or people-watching in a car-free environment. During the colder months, Danes and tourists alike enjoy Brændte Mandler, a warm and delicious snack of roasted almonds in carmelized sugar while during the summer, the snack of choice is Rød Pølse, a red, hot dog-like sausage sold from Pølsevogns (sausage wagons)
The success of the Strøget has resulted in the pedestrian-only zone being expanded from ~175,000 sq feet to over 1,000,000 sq feet, encompassing major swaths of downtown and contributing to the intimate atmosphere of Indre By. Only now, some 50 years later, have other global cities begun to take notice of the benefits of such an approach. Cities such as Montreal, New York and Melbourne have begun to follow Copenhagen’s initiative, resulting in the coining of the term “to Copenhagenize”. Not surprisingly, Danes have been able to profit from their extensive knowledge in urban planning and design and are in worldwide demand to help revitalize other international cities. http://www.worldchanging.com/local/canada/archives/009216.html
The following are pictures I have taken of the Strøget, primarily over the last several months.