Trying to look like Manhattan, the Two Towers at Stockholm’s Kungsgatan

America in the 1920s the city of the future. It was the coming of the new world that most of Europe looked at with envy. Europe was still filled with

The decades before were filled with Swedish migration to the United States, from the late 19th to early 20th century some 1.3 million Swedes left their homeland for the United States, with many settling in the mid-West where there was good farm land and where good paying jobs could be found in the cities (Chicago and Minneapolis for example).

The modern cities of the United States were nothing like the cities in Europe, there were modern, shiny skyscrappers rising from the old buildings. This was progress, this was the tomorrow, this was the future. America and the American dream was in full bloom and Sweden had just emerged reeling from the loss of its empire. The country was poor, the people needed jobs and food. They left in search of hope and a better future.

The old world did not have the energy of the new world. In a sense, America’s cities held the same dynamic energy that the large cities of Asia today show.

Swedes who had made their fortune in the United States wanted to return home and they brought with them a desire to modernise their capital city. So two buildings were constructed over 6 years at Kungsgatan. These two buildings had 16 and 17 stories respectively and were the first proper modern skyscrappers in Europe.

But skyscrappers never caught on in Stockholm. Sweden’s economic fortunes did not improve until the end of World War II, when Europe was reduced to rubble but Sweden was standing tall (because of its neutrality during the war). The construction boom with resources from Europe allowed Sweden to get rich and the other cities around to rebuild and become a hodgepodge of modern buildings (or monstrosities depending on how you look at it).

Tall buildings never caught on in Stockholm. 5 office towers going up to 19 floors were built in 1951 (called the Hortorget Buildings), but the buildings evoked disapproval from the public and tower blocks were left in as drawings on architectural plans.

These two buildings still arrest the casual traveler today, because of the sheer difference in height that they present compared to the other buildings around them.

A familiar and welcome change for this city boy.

ON THE MAP

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