A Little History of Amager

As some readers will recall we moved to Amager earlier this year. As I am a bit of fan of local history, i was curious about our new area, often sidelined for the trendier areas of town.

I was surprised to find that Amager used to be known (and apparently still is in some circles) as Lorteøen (Sh*t Island) as for many centuries the sewerage from the city was brought out to the largely uninhabited island. Up until 1970s the main landfill sites for the city were also located here, cementing the name.Amager was a farming area and in the 1700’s the King decided to create a broad street from the farms on the island into the city so the farmers could easily bring their wares into the town markets. That street is Amagerbrogade.

After the second world war a reclamation project doubled the size of Amager and added the wonderful nature reserve of Kalvebod Fælled. Amager Strand was also created in the 1930s and later fell into disrepair only to be redeveloped in 2004-5.The main building on Amager began in the 20th century, the area of villas around Femøren and Kastrup were largely built in the 1930’s and the more working class apartment buildings closer to the city slightly earlier. In the second half of the 20th century Amager gained the reputation as a slightly run down working class area but has recently undergone urban renewal and there are signs that even hipsters are starting to discover Amagerbrogade. They haven’t got that far down the street yet but the recent opening of  Jagger outpost as well as Cocks and Cows and Gorms indicates the future.There are still a number of businesses on Amager which have been around for generations and I hope they continue. I found an interesting article about these shops and businesses and I thought I’d share a little summary here.

Th. Sørensens smørrebrød shop has been run by four generations of the family since 1896. PE Larsen butcher, which always seems to have queues on a Saturday, has been operating since 1901 and another fourth generation business (with the fifth about to join). Bacher, a shop selling work overalls, safety boots and men’s fashions has been in operation since 1897 and now also has an extensive e shop. The oldest goldsmith shop on Amager is the 110 year old business Anni Jensen.

Amager Fiskehus on Holmbladsgade started in 1870 when the then owner, Peter Salmon drove his horse-drawn carriage to Frederiksberg to sell his fish before opening a shop in 1902. The business is now run by the fifth generation of his family. Finally there is Gunnar Madsen wine shop also on Holmbladsgade since 1927, in some reviews it says this is the old style wine merchants we need to stick around and I couldn’t agree more! I hope all these shops stick around for as long as possible. 

Pictures from here and here

A little bit of local history – Østerbrogade

I have always been fascinated by local history and as a child I would take great delight in discovering old photographs and history of places I knew well in the present time. This fascination has continued as I got older and now with the internet it is so much easier to find old photos and information.

When we moved to Strandboulevarden in the summer, I immediately noticed a magnificent building with a sparkly green tiled roof on the corner of Østerbrogade and Strandboulevarden. I knew it must have a history and looking up at its facade I saw its name – Vibensgård. The opposite side of the road was another fabulous building – Lille Vibenshus and a strange little circular booth on the third corner on Poul Henningsens Plads. I felt I had to find out more about these places.

I was surprised the find that much of this area was potato fields up until the end of the 19th Century and early 20th century.  Vibensgård is great example of Art Nouveau architecture and was designed by Anton Rosen (who famously also designed the Palace Hotel in the centre of Copenhagen) and build between 1906 and 1914. As you can see from these photos not a lot has changed, except the trams.

CIMG6971 vibensgaard 1910 vibensgard

Next I looked into Lille Vibenshus on the opposite side of the street, where Østerbro pharmacy is now. This was build at around the same time in 1907 and housed the first police guard in Østerbro.

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lille vibenshus

Finally the little hexagonal booth on the third corner was a telephone kiosk build in 1896 and was one of 30 build in the city. They were designed by Fritz Koch and housed the first pay phones. Some still still remain but none are used for their original purpose. Inside there was a telephone and writing desk and the outside would have been used for advertising, just like today. Sadly I couldn’t find any old picture of this but it looks exactly the same I am sure.CIMG6969

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I loved finding out a bit more about the history of places I see everyday and there are plenty more to investigate around here. I hope you enjoyed this little glimpse into the past.