Copenhagen, circa 1937
Attire and old time soundtrack aside, what is so striking about this footage of Copenhagen in 1937 is just how little seems to have changed since then. Most buildings shown are immediately recognizable, and though bicycle traffic is now funneled through an organized network of cycle tracks (a byproduct of the automobile’s continued rise), the nature of the streets is very much the same.
During the periods of economic growth that fueled so much modernist fervor throughout the rest of the developed world, Denmark experienced a weak economy. While plans were drawn up to lace massive highways through the city center (even the city’s dearly loved lakes were poised to become asphalt) and install the sleek modern developments that were all the rage in cities as nearby as Oslo and Stockholm, the funds to realize these dreams fizzled before any could become reality.
Partially because it did not have the means to “modernize” itself so many decades ago, Copenhagen today claims its place as one of the world’s most progressively designed cities. The irony runs deep and the bicycle traffic flows thick.