Södermalm’s district area, Stockholm, Sweden

Södermalm is a district area in Stockholm’s inner city. The district area includes the districts Gamla stan, Riddarholmen, Långholmen, Reimersholme, Södermalm and Södra Hammarbyhamnen. In addition, the uninhabited archipelago Årsta islets are included, which are located in the Årsta district, which, however, otherwise belongs to the Enskede-Årsta-Vantör district area. A small part of Björkhagen is also within the district area.

Stockholm’s inner city, is the central part of Stockholm municipality as opposed to the outer city, which consists of Västerort and Söderort. Within Stockholm’s inner city, and especially in Stockholm’s city on lower Norrmalm and in the Old Town, is home to most of Sweden’s parliamentary and political institutions, most of Stockholm’s historic buildings of dignity and a significant representation of the country’s financial and banking activities.

The spread of urban development within the city of Stockholm in 1913, where the area largely corresponds to the broader significance of the Inner City. The inner city, according to the city’s definition, is mostly bounded by water.

The meaning of the term inner or central city has changed with the city’s expansion over time. During the Middle Ages, it referred to the area inside the city walls on Stadsholmen. During the great power era, it referred to the Old Town (“The city between the bridges”) and the area around Klara Church and Jacob’s Church on today’s Norrmalm and the area around Mary Magdalene’s church on today’s Södermalm. The ore concept that was established then designated areas outside the city center and with rural buildings as ore farms.

During the latter part of the 19th century, the ores were built with multi-family houses in stone and this whole area was then considered part of the inner city, which view still partly survives. Finally, during the 20th century, the city’s expansion spread further – mainly in the south and west – where the demarcation to the inner city was then perceived to consist of the waters, Årstaviken and Tranebergssund, which formed a natural boundary between the older more central city and the newer suburbs.

There is also a narrower demarcation, which coincides with the older concept of the City within the customs and which includes the parts of the Inner City that are within Stockholm’s old city customs. City customs were decided in 1622 for Swedish cities. At that time, high fences with customs stations were built around many cities at the major entrances and exits. Regarding Stockholm, the customs fence was moved during its active time (1622-1810) gradually outwards in step with the city’s expansion. The term City within the customs then usually refers to the customs as they were at the end of this period.

The city within the customs consists of dense buildings and, with few exceptions, classic neighborhoods and straight streets. This area can sometimes also be called the stone city or the neighborhood city. In Hammarby lake town, it was the first time in a long time that the city made an active attempt to build the inner city outside the customs.

Districts in Södermalm’s district area:
The Norrmalm’s district area consists of the districts Gamla stan, Långholmen, Reimersholme, Riddarholmen, Södermalm and Södra Hammarbyhamnen.

Gamla stan
Gamla stan (The old town), is Stockholm’s historic center and built on Stadsholmen. Even Helgeandsholmen and Strömsborg belongs’s Historical Center. Sometimes Riddarholmen is also counted as the Old Town, but it is a separate district. For several hundred years, the Old Town was the actual city. The district was formed in 1926 and in 2006 had about 3,000 inhabitants, until 1980 officially the city between the bridges.

All buildings in the Old Town (except Skeppsbron’s customs pavilions) are blue marked by the City Museum in Stockholm, which means that they constitute “extremely high cultural-historical values”. In the Old Town, there are about 30 secular buildings that are currently legally protected architectural monuments. Among them are Stockholm Castle, the Ticino Palace, the Peasant Palace, the Chancellery Annex, the Petersen House, the Royal Post Office, the Dånger House, the Customs House,Norra and Södra Bankohuset and Räntmästarhuset.

Stockholm was founded in the 13th century and was built in the fence of the large castle that Earl Birger had built as a “lock” for Lake Mälaren. The city’s dominant building was the castle. At the city’s main square, Stortorget, the town hall was built and behind this the village church – the oldest part of Storkyrkan.

In the 17th century that the old fortifications had played their role, and after the Great Fire of 1625 in the south-western part, extensive regulation work began when old wall remains were demolished and Stora and Lilla Nygatan were drawn straight through the former crowd. A few years later, the walls were also demolished to the east and Skeppsbron was built as a wide beach street, with magnificent 17th century houses that formed the city’s front facing the water, worthy of the great power’s capital itself.

The oldest buildings were probably built of wood, but during the late Middle Ages a large part of the houses were built of brick. During the great power era, many of the medieval houses were also rebuilt. They got a new facade design with high gables and richly decorated portals. In recent times, the houses have also been modernized. In the 18th century, many buildings received new roof shapes and uniform, plastered facades, and in the late 19th century a richer façade design and large shop windows along the business streets.

Behind the visible facades, much of the medieval masonry still remains. Inside the houses you can also find both cellar vaults from the Middle Ages, frescoes made in the 16th century, richly painted beamed ceilings from the 17th century, high-class Rococo furnishings and the lavish decorations of the 19th century.

Around the turn of the century in 1900, one opened one’s eyes to the historical values that the Old Town’s buildings represented. By the 1930s, disgust with the Old Town slums had been transformed into great respect for the district’s historical heritage. In 1934, Samfundet Sankt Erik had the house Kindstugatan 14 in the Cepheus district cleaned up for testing. The result was very successful and led to the entire block being cleaned up and the Old Town’s largest green area being created.

Instead of total demolition of the Old Town’s buildings, the old town as a whole is then protected by a government decision by a classification as a national interest for cultural environmental protection by the National Heritage Board.

The oldest known preserved street names in Stockholm and the Old Town are Köpmangatan first mentioned in 1323 and Skomakargatan a few years later. From the 15th century, there are names such as Stortorget, Kornhamn, Slottsbacken and Järntorget, as well as many names that are reminiscent of various church phenomena, such as Stora Gråmunkegränd, Svartmangatan and Själagårdsgatan. Even Kindstugatan and Kåkbrinken is coated from the 1400s. Västerlånggatan and Österlånggatan also have medievalancestry.

After the 17th century, only marginal changes have taken place in the streets and squares of the Old Town. Mårten Trotzig’s alley is only 90 cm wide and is thus Stockholm’s narrowest alley. Very few names have come into being in the 19th century, including Slussplan and Telegrafgränd, and in the 20th century quays, bridges such as Kanslikajen, Riddarhuskajen and Stallbron were named.

The majority of the neighborhoods in the Old Town have been named after concepts (mainly gods) from Greek and Roman mythology. The exceptions on Stadsholmen are Rådstugan and Tre Kronor. The old town’s neighborhood names were mainly added during the latter part of the 17th century and the beginning of the 18th century and were probably decided by the city engineer Johan Cortman. There were also planned, named neighborhoods that were never completed. On Peter Tillaeus map from 1733 appears three planned blocks southwest of addresses Charon, Iason and Midas to be called America,Africa and Asia, respectively, but which never came into being.

Stockholms-Gillet annually arranges Stortorget’s Christmas market, which takes place about a month before Christmas and usually ends on 23 December. The old town’s Christmas market has a long history, but it was closed down in 1907. In 1915, it was reopened, mainly on Gillet’s initiative. The guild owns the faluröda sheds, which are rented out to craftsmen and others with sales of Swedish products such as handicrafts, food and mulled wine. The surplus from the Christmas market goes to Gillet’s operations.

Långholmen
Långholmen is an island in Stockholm’s inner city that also forms its own district, formed in 1906. The earliest settlement on Långholmen was Långholmen’s sea toll. Långholmen was for many years Stockholm’s prison island, here was Långholmen’s central prison until 1975 and in the 18th and early 19th century the women’s prison Långholmen’s spinning house. On the island is also Mälarvarvet dating back to the 1680s. Today, Långholmen’s old prison buildings include hotels, hostels, inns, folk high schools, preschools, homes and premises for crafts. Långholmen has approximately 125 resident individuals.

Långholmen got its current name very early. The island’s name is first found in a preserved document from the middle of the 1430s and it was probably the island’s long narrow shape that gave rise to the name. The island was narrower at that time and has become somewhat wider due to the land uplift and fillings (on the south side). There is no information about buildings before Långholmstullen was built in the 1620s, but traces of human activity have been traced back to the 10th century. In the 19th century, a silver treasure with German coins, minted in the 10th century, was discovered.

With the advent of Little Customs, the first state institution was established on Långholmen. Customs documents from Långholmen have been preserved since 1624, but a concrete customs building is not mentioned until 1651. In 1752, the lake customs moved into a separate house, Stora Henriksvik, and in 1785 to a stone building which is today called the Lake Customs.

In 1857, the last customs officer left the sea toll on Långholmen. The next state institution that came to the island was Långholmen’s spinning house, which opened its operations in 1724 in the rebuilt and extended ore farm Alstavik. Alstavik was a palace-like building that had been built in 1649 by the brewmaster Jochum Ahlstedt. Prison activities would characterize the island’s history until 1975, when the last prisoners were relocated. In 1982, some of the institution’s buildings were demolished and during the 1990s, the remaining houses were renovated. Since 1989, the island has included hotels, hostels, inns and Långholmen Folk High School.

On the western part of the island is Karlshäll’s farm from 1838, originally built as a residence for Långholmsfängelsen’s building manager Carl Modéer. Under his next owner, the distillery manufacturer Lars Olsson Smith, Karlshäll’s farm flourished and several new buildings were added. Långholmen’s western cape called Sofieberg was always privately owned, summer pleasures were built here in the late 1880s. Some of them are still there.

On Långholmen’s southeastern cape, there is the ancient Mälarvarvet, also called Långholmsvarvet. The shipyard business began as early as 1685 as a shipyard and is thus the oldest remaining business on the island.

Långholmen’s allotment gardens are an area with cultivation plots and allotment gardens between Karlshäll’s farm “Grindstugan” and the former Långholmen central prison. Långholmen’s allotment gardens have their historical beginnings in a farmland that was established in 1834 next to Knapersta by the commander at the prison, and in 1835 more prison employees had the opportunity to grow in their own plots. In 1983, “Långholmen’s allotment gardens” were formed, which today have 66 lots at their disposal.

Since the 1880s, the city of Stockholm has built a park area on the eastern part of Långholmen, Långholmsparken. When the park was completed in the 1930s, it covered an area of 113,700 m 2. On the crest of Långholmsberget, open-air theater had been played in an amphitheater since the 1940s. The theater became very popular and had to be enlarged in stages. In 1955, it finally had room for 3,500 people in the theater who blend in with the surroundings in a natural way. In 1917, two bathing sites were created along the northern shore, one for men and one for women. Today’s Långholmsbadet was built in the 1980s and further east is Långholmen’s rock bathwhich was originally a ladies’ and children’s pool.

Since the cessation of prison activities in the 1970s, the western part of the island has also become accessible to the public. Nowadays, a continuous promenade leads around the whole island. Along Långholmen’s southern shore are several boat clubs and the leisure boats have their berths along Pålsundet and Långholmskanalen. In the summer, some of the boats’ winter places for caravan camping are leased. All year round, many tourists are drawn to the island, who live in the hostel and budget hotels set up in the old prison buildings.

Reimersholme
Reimersholme is an island and a district in Stockholm’s inner city. Holmen is surrounded to the north by the Långholm Canal and to the south by Liljeholmsviken. The island was formerly called Räkneholmen, but on June 24, 1798, it got its current name; it is named after the hat maker and councilor Anders Reimers (1727–1816). He owned the farm on the east side of the island, Reimers ore farm, which was built on his initiative in the 1780s.

The first settlement was on the western side of the island and in the 1750s was a small residence for the prison chaplain at Långholmen prison. The western part, the future Charlottenburg area, was leased in the 1770s by the mountain councilor Gustaf von Engeström, who here had a plant for the production of so-called spoon water (nitric acid). His plant was called in 1779 the Charlottenbourgs fabrique.

Reimersholme is located next to Långholmen directly west of Södermalm. The first homes were built in the 1880s at Charlottenburg. In the 1860s, a woolen factory was built here, Stockholm’s Woolen Factory, where, among other things, prisoners from Långholmsfängelset were allowed to work. The factory went bankrupt in 1934 and HSB bought the area in 1939.

During the years 1942–1946, HSB built nine hundred apartments on Reimersholme; first on the eastern side of Reimersholme next to the Reimersholm Bridge, then on the northern side along Liljeholmsviken and finally also on the southern side in 1980 where there was previously a distillery, Reymersholms Spritförädlings AB (later part of today’s Vin & Sprit) which had its origins in Lars Ohlsson Smith’s distillery. This factory could have operated without competing with the City of Stockholm’s liquor monopoly due to its location in Brännkyrka parish.

Sven Wallander, founder of HSB, together with architect Axel Grape designed the four point houses in the neighborhoods Flaskan and Räkenholmen, which are owned by the tenant-owner association Reimer on Pokalvägen, located at the top of the island. On behalf of Wallander, landscape architect Ulla Bodorff designed the green areas on Reimersholme. HSB received a great deal of attention for its area through an anniversary exhibition that took place in connection with the inauguration in the summer of 1944.

The distillery’s buildings were largely demolished in the late 1970s and the business was moved to Vin & Spritt’s facility in Årstadalshamnen and in Åhus. At Reimersholme (the Bränneriet quarter), a residential building and a daycare center were then built under the auspices of HSB. From the time of the distillery, the portal building towards Reimersholmsgatan at Reimersholmsbron, the so-called “Åttingen” (a former cistern) at Reimersholmsgatan 45 and parts of the original factory wall along Reimersholmsgatan remain. Even some large oak barrels are reminiscent of the previous business.

Riddarholmen
Riddarholmen (formerly Kidaskär, Gråbrödraholmen, Gråmunkeholmen) is an island in Lake Mälaren and a district in central Stockholm’s inner city. Riddarholmen is the smallest district in Stockholm municipality to the surface. The island, together with the Old Town, is Stockholm’s historic center. In the 13th century, the Gråbrödra monastery was built on Riddarholmen and the monastery church, the current Riddarholm Church. During the 17th century, magnificent palaces were built by the nobility, which after the castle fire in 1697 were gradually taken over by the state agencies and courts that still dominate the islet.

In 1270 let Magnus III founding the Franciscan monastery in Stockholm on Riddarholmen. After the monastery was closed in 1527 through Gustav Vasa’s Reformation, new residents came to the island, such as Chancellor Erik Eriksson with his wife Anna and the grave digger Anders. About fifty small farms were built on Kidskär.

With the beginning of the Swedish great power era around the 1620s, the inhabitants disappeared from the island, the farms were demolished and the land was divided into substantial plots donated by the Crown to nobles who excelled in the war or in the administration. Gentlemen such as Sparre, Wrangel and Banér built their palaces on the island.

The prestigious building assignments for the crown and the nobility attracted several of the foremost older Swedish architects. Among others Nicodemus Tessin d.ä. (1615-1681) which was behind some of Sweden’s foremost castle buildings, such as Drottningholm’s castle and Tidö castle. At Riddarholmen, he was involved in, among other things, the Capricorn Palace and the Hessenstein Palace. Both palaces were newly decorated in the 18th century by the rococo master Carl Hårleman, who was also the man who completed the reconstruction of Stockholm Castle.

Hårleman is also behind the Old Auction House and the High Commissioner’s house on Riddarholmen. Also Fredrik Blomhas contributed with a house, Kammarrättens hus from 1804. Among his many other works are Rosendal Castle and Skeppsholm Church.

Other later architects who contributed to the island’s architecture are Axel Fredrik Nyström (Gamla Riksarkivet), Aron Johansson (Gamla riksdagshuset), Magnus Isæus (Norstedtshuset) and Ivar Tengbom who led the rebuilding of the publishing house in 1943. In the 1950s, renovations led by Cyrillus Johansson and after his drawings of both Birger jarls tower and Gamla Auktionsverket.

The oldest bridge from Stadsholmen to Gråmunkeholmen was a simple wooden bridge. In 1630, Councilor Åke Henriksson Tott received permission to build a drawbridge from the western corner of Riddarhuset to his own house, which was located in the middle of the Riddarholm Church’s choir. In 1655, Tott’s drawbridge was replaced by two fixed wooden bridges.

After the castle fire in 1697, the royal family moved into the Wrangel Palace and lived there while the new castle was being built. Later came government agencies that took over the noble palace whose owners could no longer afford to stay here and Riddarholmen became an official island.

The Riddarholm fire of 1802 destroyed the Cruuska palace and damaged parts of the Wrangel palace. During the nineteenth century, the area of Riddarholmen grew by filling in towards Riddarfjärden, which meant that the shoreline was moved west to provide better space for shipping. Originally, the palace had its main facades facing the water, and they were reached by sea. Due to the changed shorelines, the connection between the buildings and the water was weakened.

At the middle of the 19th century, the Riddarholm Canal was still an idyllic fairway for small boats. Here, to “Mälarhamnen”, the farmers of the Mälaren islands came and sold their goods along the quay at today’s Munkbro.

Riddarholmen also played an important role for passenger traffic on Lake Mälaren. There was a regular steamboat traffic between Riddarholmen and Mälaren towns such as Örebro, Västerås, Enköping and Sigtuna.

Södermalm
Södermalm, in everyday speech Söder, is a district, located on an island of the same name, in Stockholm’s inner city. It forms the main part of Södermalm’s district area.

Södermalm was the earliest built ore. In the middle of the 14th century, the chapel of Mary Magdalene was built on the site where the church is now located. The chapel is the first sign of church formation and is an indication of a growing permanent population on the island. It was soon joined by the simpler chapel of the Holy Cross, near the present Katarina church. But the settlement was both sparse and simple, for a long time one of the island’s most important tasks would remain to provide pasture for the citizens’ livestock.

In 1527, both churches were demolished in connection with Gustav Vasa’s takeover. In the 1570s, clear directives finally came to the city’s desire to grow on the ores. In 1591, the administrative district division was extended to Norr- and Södermalm, a sure sign of growing population pressure. It was not until the 1620s, however, that Mary Magdalene’s church was to be rebuilt. In 1654, Katarina parish was broken out of Maria Magdalena parish. In 1917 Sofia parish from Katarina was broken out and in 1925 Högalid parish was broken out from Maria Magdalena.

The first buildings were at Slussen, and the district has spread in different directions along Götgatan, Hornsgatan and Tjärhovsgatan. By the 1880s, the buildings had reached down to Skånegatan and Ringvägen in the west. In the 1910s, construction continued in Högalid, in the 1920s at Bergsund and in the 1930s at Eriksdal.

An older industrial plant is the Munich Brewery at Söder Mälarstrand. The brewery began its production and sale of beer in April 1857. The beer era ended in 1971 and after an extensive rebuilding until 1985, the Munich brewery is now a trade fair and conference center. There were several other breweries on Södermalm, among them Neumüllers Bryggeri, Nürnbergs Bryggeri, Piehls Bryggeri and Pilsenerbryggeriet. On the latter site are today Åhléns Söder and Clarion Hotel Stockholm. In the middle of the 18th century, Olof Ström’s brewery in the Tegen district was the city’s largest and in 1785 became Katarina’s Krono distillery.. After 1831, Katarina Hospital was located in the brewery’s old premises.

During industrialization at the end of the 19th century, Södermalm grew rapidly and became mainly the working-class housing area, as described in Per Anders Fogelström’s novel series The City of My Dreams. Today, Södermalm has been gentrified with significant shopping areas and expensive housing.

Some of the more well-known streets and squares on Södermalm are Götgatan (mentioned by name 1644), Hornsgatan and Mariatorget. An extensive regulation of the street network was started in 1642 by the city engineer Anders Torstenson as part of a larger urban planning in Stockholm during the 17th century under Clas Larsson Fleming. Another regulation took place at the end of the 19th century with the Lindhagen Plan.

With its 120,000 m floor area, Södersjukhuset is Södermalm’s largest building complex. It was inaugurated on April 3, 1944 and was then the largest hospital in the Nordic region. In a rock room under Södersjukhuset is a modern emergency and disaster medicine center, Disaster Emergency Center, which was inaugurated on November 25, 1994.

Södermalm’s tallest building is Skrapan, the building is 84 meters high and has 26 floors. It was completed in 1959. Originally built for the tax authority, the house has been converted into student housing since 2007. Another well-known landmark is the Katarina lift at Slussen. The current Katarina lift was inaugurated at about the same time as Slussen’s traffic junction in 1935. However, the lift itself has not functioned for a number of years. The steel structure has been renovated as part of Slussen’s renovation and the lift will be put into operation again when the renovation of Katarinahuset is completed.

Medborgarplatsen with Medborgarhuset, Söderhallarna, restaurants and cinemas is the district’s public center. Newer buildings include the residential buildings Bofill’s arch and Söder tower (initially called Haglund’s pinne) which were built in the 1990s on Södra station’s old railway yard area. The residential area Norra Hammarbyhamnen also arose next to the Hammarby Canal in the 1990s. On the south side of Södermalm, next to Skanstullsbron and Johanneshovsbron is Eriksdalsbadet, whose new building was opened in 1999.

Södra Hammarbyhamnen
Södra Hammarbyhamnen (Hammarby sjöstad) is a district in the southeastern part of Stockholm’s inner city that was a former industrial area. It is a district in Södermalm’s district area in Stockholm municipality, as the district is part of Stockholm’s Sofia district, it is formally counted by the municipality as the inner city, despite the fact that it is located on the south and east side of Hammarby lake.

Over the years, large industries have been located in the area. In 1928, General Motors established here, and with ships from the USA came car parts that were assembled on site. In 1929-1930, the Cooperative Association built the Lumalampan light bulb factory and they have used the port to load and unload their equipment. In the 1940s, Hammarby farm was demolished, and wholesale companies such as Bröderna Edstrand, Bröderna Hedlund, Ahlsells and AB Rylander & Asplund moved in. A competitor to Luma, Osram-Elektraverken, also established itself.

The buildings consist exclusively of multi-family houses with a mixture of condominiums and rental apartments. The area has an inner city character at the same time as the farms are green and the proximity to the water is noticeable as many properties are located right next to the quay. In 1991, plans to build housing in the area took on a more solid form when the city planning office presented an in-depth general plan. The design of the homes had taken inspiration from Berlin, they wanted to build closed neighborhoods, but with open courtyards.

A new master plan was developed in 1998. It includes 200 hectares of land between Skanstull and Danvikstull on both sides of Hammarby lake. One third of the area will be saved for existing activities, the rest of the area will be folded for the construction of a completely new residential area.

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