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Location: Central Copenhagen, Denmark
Population: 0.5 million
Metro: 1.9 million
Length: 1.15 km (0.7 mi)
Right-of-Way: 10–12 m
Context: Mixed-use (Residential/Commercial)
Maintenance: Several repavings since 1963
Until 1962, all the streets and squares of central Copenhagen were used intensively for vehicle traffic and parking, and were under pressure from the rapidly growing fleet of private vehicles.
The pedestrianization of Copenhagen began with the city’s main street, Strøget, which was converted in 1962 as an experiment. The conversion of the 1.15 km-long main street into a pedestrian street was seen as a pioneering effort, which gave rise to much public debate before the street was converted. “Pedestrian streets will never work in Scandinavia” was one theory. “No cars means no customers and no customers means no business,” said local business owners.
Soon, Strøget proved to be a huge success, with businesses realizing that traffic-free environments provide increased financial revenue. Magasin Torv, the square by Nikolaj Church, and Gråbrødre Torv were the first squares to be renovated.
City of Copenhagen, Stadsarkitektens Direktorat, Stadsingeniørens Direktorat, Bjørn Nørgård.
The successful pedestrianization of streets in Copenhagen can be attributed, in part, to the incremental nature of change, giving people the time to change their patterns of driving and parking into patterns of cycling and using collective transport to access key destinations in the city—in addition to providing time to develop ways of using this newly available public space.
The pedestrianization of Strøget highlighted the potential for outdoor public life in Denmark, as Danes never before had the room and the opportunity to develop a public life in public spaces. This pedestrianization created peaceful, yet lively, public spaces. Strøget also proved that pedestrian streets can increase revenue for local retailers.
Strøget has been renewed and upgraded several times during its 53 years as a pedestrian street, by using progressively better-quality materials, repurposing public spaces and plazas to increase pedestrian comfort, and adding outdoor uses.
Amager Square was renovated in 1993 by local artist Bjørn Nørgård. Today, it is the second most popular urban space in the city because of the diverse range of activities offered there.
Adapted by Global Street Design Guide published by Island Press.