What was once an industrial city is changing, rapidly, into a modern cosmopolitan city
Gothenburg as a city is changing. Rapidly. And right now, the changes are happening faster than ever before, or so it seems. I’m not sure if this is true for other cities, as well, but my town seems to need a “reason” to change. In 1921, ahead of the previous big jubilee, it saw huge changes: an amusement park, several museums and stately buildings which still dominate the landscape, to this very day.
Does it take a large event for major change to happen?
After that, the city seemed to have slumped a bit and just evolved. When I moved here in 1992, Gothenburg seemed to be a tired, beaten city. Run-down buildings everywhere, fifty-eleven shades of gray, you name it. The demise of the three large shipyards in the harbor, the troubles Volvo was going through, it all affected the spirits of the city. But there was a sense of hope, nevertheless. We had been awarded the 1995 IAAF Athletic World Championships, and we were going to clean up our city for that event. Boy, did we succeed!
Major projects underway
Since then, the city has grown, loads of new housing has replaced the empty spaces where keels were laid out and ships were built. Particularly on the western banks of the river Göta. But more is yet to come, and with the immense growth of that side of the city, there is a need for better transportation infrastructure.
As we approach the next big celebration of our town, 400 years, in 2021, the city is suddenly ready to take leaps into the future:
- a futuristic cable car across the river as a means of mass transportation
- a brand new car, tram & bus bridge to cross the river, replacing the old one from 1939
- a brand new tunnel to help with traffic congestions
- our first “subway” tunnel of sorts, with two new underground railway stations across the city
- Karlatornet (and the entire neighborhood), which is going to be Scandinavia’s tallest skyscraper
- and several other neighborhoods are in the process of being re-developed with tall buildings adding thousands of apartments for tens of thousands of new inhabitants.
Traditionally, we have very few “tall” buildings in Gothenburg. Several devastating city fires put a damper on that. However, when the city fairgrounds built their third hotel tower a few years ago (which includes Sweden’s very best hotel), that tower breached 100 m, thus officially (ridiculous compared to other cities, I know, but this is Sweden) making it a skyscraper.
When builder Ola Serneke announced the project, people went nuts. The idea was so crazy, so outlandish that nobody believed it. And against all odds, it is actually being built. All the permits are in place and many of the apartments are already sold. It’s going to be a landmark for sure, replacing Turning Torso in Malmö as Scandinavia’s tallest building with its whopping 245 meters.
Along the river
But there is more. About a decade ago, we tunneled the main traffic artery through the middle of the city, and that entire space is now ready for development. Sadly, in our town (I’d be happy to tell you on a tour) some of these things seem to take forever, but you can already see the changes in a few places, and with the coming train/subway tunnel, it sank some of the plans even further.
Gothenburg is built on clay and every building needs to be firmly “poled” into solid ground, sometimes dozens of meters into the ground. Not easy when you’re also building a tunnel through all of that.
Right now, a further stretch of the city freeway along the central station is decked over and an entirely new neighborhood is being developed. The sketches from the city almost appear like science-fiction.
It’s always a good time to visit…
Whether you like to see the old or watch the new city grow, or if you’re interested in how we tackle the future, which includes getting ready for the ever-increasing sea-levels, then you should visit Gothenburg now. All the rest, food, great lodging, art, fun, entertainment is in place as always, but a city in a revolutionary transformation from “industrial” to “futuristic” isn’t something you get to witness every day.