Avenyn, Göteborg and the Romance of Autumn

At the same time as the parks in the city were being constructed, the middle class wanted a new boulevard to live in. It was designed as the first boulevard outside the then fortified city. The boulevard was inspired by the Champs-Elysees in Paris.

And just because this ditty on Champs-Elysees is playing like earwar in my head, I’m linking it hear too.

Desiring beautiful things means that a society has gone beyond sustenance and need higher value items to be satisfied. This can be explained by a very popular psychology theory from Abraham Maslow – Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (you can read the seminal paper that first described this theory here). Briefly, the theory states that there are differently levels of needs that humans have to fulfill before being able to obtain higher ones. For example humans have no desire for expression if they cannot even make enough money to eat. The five levels are (in ascending order): physiological, safety, social belonging, esteem, self-actualisation. Maslow added a sixth level, self-transcendence, in his later years.

But enough academics, back to the streets. The boulevard lined with its uniformed yet unique buildings conveyed a certain romantic feel to it. It appealed in a way to my very human attraction to beauty.

The pastel hues of the leaves only added to the romance of Gothenburg.

I couldn’t help feeling that I was in what I imagined Paris to be like based on movies like Amelie (2001) and Ratatouille (2007). While Paris’ Champs-Elysees emanates outwards from the Arc du Triomphe, the smaller one in Gothenburg spans about a kilometre from the old city to a Statue of Poseidon.

For the first 75 years of its existence, the boulevard opened up to a wide rural space where the Statue stands today. The statue, designed by Swedish sculptor Carl Milles, was erected in 1923 for a world industrial fair to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the founding of Gothenburg. That was not the only thing built for the fair, The whole square surrounding the statue was made for the 300th anniversary. Including the Museum of Arts and the city theatre and concert hall (as was the theme park Liseberg).

With its gentle elevation, standing from the square and looking down at the boulevard opens up a charming cityscape.

Poseidon was one of the twelve gods on Mount Olympus. He was the second brother of the three primal god (Zeus, Poseidon and Hades) and he was in charge of all water bodies (Seas, Lakes, etc), earthquakes and horses. Just as Christian cities had patron saints, Hellenic/Greek cities had cheif deities and Poseidon was the chief deity of the port city of Pylos and the ancient city-state of Thebes. The choice of Poseidon (as with the fountain of Neptune in Gdansk) is probably a nod to the gods that were thought to play an important role in the prosperity of the city – maritime trade.

Avenyn is the place to be seen for more than its history though, the middle class residential district has now been replaced by something more lively and energetic. Its beauty is added on to by its nightlife with a significant concentration of pubs, bars, clubs and restaurants – some of which possess Michelin-stars.

The cost of entertainment at this place is considered to be cheap (by Scandanavian standards at least) because of the many students from the nearby University of Gothenburg and Chalmers University of Technology who also frequent these areas. There’s a place for every type of entertainment here. Its in also a place for football fans to congregate and show support for their local team – IFK Göteborg, especially after fierce matches played out at the stadium.

This is the place where the conventionally on fleek people go in Gothenburg. Me? It was hard to sleep (my accomodation was in the area) with the music from the clubs that weekend night. I am obviously not Mr On Fleek.

Having said that, with its charming streets in the day and badass nightlife, its no wonder its the place to be seen in the city.



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