As regular readers will know I do like to start a post with a reminisce about when I first moved to Copenhagen. Back in 2008 Vesterbro was a very different animal to the one we see now. On our first afternoon living in Frederiksberg we set off on a hunt for lightbulbs and we ended up outside an old row of buildings on Enghavevej close to Tove Ditlevsen’s Mindehave (a century old restaurant which apparently is now a big selling point for the area).
Fast forward to 2018 and this historic row of buildings are a pile of rubble waiting to be replaced by a development of luxury apartments, townhouses and cafes called Toves Gård. The irony of an affluent new development replacing a historic working class one and naming it after a very famous writer whose work concentrated on her experiences growing up in working class Vesterbro is not lost on its detractors.
So a bit more history of these buildings. They were known as Slagtergårdene or the Slaughter Yards. Build around 1860 the backyard was used to slaughter livestock and the row houses at the front were homes to the slaughtermen and their families. After the slaughter of animals stopped the buildings became homes and businesses. This was all at a time when Vesterbro was still a working class area before the rapid gentrification of the area began (you can read more of my thoughts about this here). In fact one of these houses was the childhood home of Storm P, the famous Danish cartoonist, satirist, actor and writer.
When the demolition of Slagtergårdene was proposed there was an immediate backlash from residents and community groups who believed that the historic integrity of these century old buildings should be preserved. A petition was started and a campaign Facebook group. The petition gained over 11,000 signatures but the city council still decided to allow developers to demolish the area and replace it with just over 100 new homes and five businesses.
When I passed by the demolition site a few weeks ago I commented to the older lady next to me on the bus that it was sad to see the buildings go. She retorted that people need somewhere to live. I didn’t get into a debate with her but I doubt people who can afford the price tag of 3.2m Danish Krone for a 68sq metre apartment or up to 10m Danish Krone for 170sq metre family house are short of options for places to live unlike the women who use Cafe Klare, an overnight shelter for women just a ten minute walk away.
NOTE all these photos were taken from public areas and I did not enter the demolition area or any private property.