1902 Encyclopedia > Stockholm, Sweden


STOCKHOLM, the capital of Sweden, is situated at the point where Lake Malar mixes its waters with those of the Baltic, and at the meeting-place of two provinces, Upland and Sodermanland. The old cities of Sweden are regularly found in places where in early times the inhabitants of neighbouring districts came together for purposes of exchange or sometimes of worship, or where a river brought the interior of the country into closer connexion with the coast. By the passages that wind among the numerous isles off Stockholm ships at an early date came to the mouth of the lake, only to continue their voyage into its remoter parts. The two provinces mentioned were densely-peopled, and the cultivated regions extended to the mouth of the lake, as is shown by groups of tumuli still to be seen in the immediate neighbourhood of the present city. Still Stockholm does not rank among the oldest cities of Sweden; the exceedingly eligible site had long been neglected owing to its exposure to the incursions of pirates. [558-1]

Stockholm was first founded by Birger Jarl, it is said, in the middle of the 13th century, at a time when pirate fleets were less common than they had been, and the Government was anxious to establish commercial relations with the towns which were now beginning to flourish on the southern coast of the Baltic. The city was originally founded as a fortress on an island at the mouth of Lake Miilar; this island, which is not large, consists of a hill of gravel resting upon rocky ground, having its highest side towards the north, and sloping in the other directions. The castle was erected on the north-eastern corner, and the city was surrounded with walls having fortified towers on the north and south. It came to be called Stockholm (" the isle of the log," Lat. Holmia, Germ. Holm) ; the true explanation of the name is not known. Soon the space which had been enclosed was found to be insufficient, and houses were built outside the walls, which thus lost their defensive character. The castle, two towers belonging to the older works, and some newer walls nearer the water became the sole fortifications. The citizens began also to build on the neighbouring shores, though there, in the event of a siege, all houses had to be destroyed, so as not to give shelter to the enemy. A tendency to increased development has steadily showed itself throughout the Middle Ages and in modern times. On an islet in the stream, between the original Stockholm and the northern shore, was founded, in the 14th century, a hospital of the Holy Ghost, and a new tower was erected to defend the approach to the city. On another islet closely adjoining the original Stockholm on the west, a Franciscan monastery was founded towards the end of the 13th century.

The present city has an area of 12.6 square miles (.44 being water); its extreme length from north to south is about 3.8 miles and its circumference 14 1/4. The different parts of the actual city are the following. (1) Staden is the old "city"; its ancient origin is apparent in the narrow and winding streets. The individual houses are not very old, owing to the ravages of frequent fires; still, some are to be seen with very narrow frontage and gables turned towards the street, as in North Germany. The old market, still called Stortorget ("the great market"), is now one of the smallest in Stockholm. The royal palace, dating from the Middle Ages, but enlarged and partly rebuilt at a later period, was destroyed by fire in 1697, the body of Charles XI. being with difficulty rescued from the flames. A new palace, after plans by Nicodemus Tessin, was not com- pleted (owing to wars and the general distress) until 1754 ; it is a quadrangular structure on the summit of the hill, with two wings towards the east and four towards the west (two straight and two in a semicircle). The style of the building is noble and refined, the royal apartments rich in treasures of art. In the immediate vicinity of the palace is the church of St Nicholas, the oldest in Stockholm, but in many parts changed from what it was ; the chancel was demolished in the 16th century to give more room for the palace. Staden is the commercial centre of the city, containing the exchange, the bank of Sweden, and the custom-house, as well as the offices of many merchants. On the eastern side a very large quay, called the Skeppsbro ("the bridge of ships"), extends from the statue of Gus- tavus III. opposite the palace to where the traffic between Lake Malar and the Baltic is carried on through a sluice or lock. The Skeppsbro is the landing-place for steamers to the northern provinces of Sweden and foreign ports. On the other side of the palace is the Kanslihus, con- taining the offices of most of the ministries; and a little farther on is a market, named from the palace on its northern side, the Biddarhus, belonging to the Swedish nobility. The principal hall of the Riddarhus has its walls adorned with the armorial bearings of the noble families of Sweden. The representatives of these families meet here every third year for consultation as to their common interests. In front of the building stands the statue of Gustavus I. The town-hall stands in the same square. (2) Riddarholmen contains the old Franciscan church, which, however, is not now used for divine service. Since the time of Gustavus Adolphus it has been the burial-place of the royal family; it also contains many trophies from the European wars of Sweden. On one side of the church stand the houses of parliament; on the other is the statue of Birger Jarl, the founder of Stockholm. A large part of the island is occupied by Government offices, including the record office. Along the shore most of the steamers for different parts of Lake Malar and farther on through the canal of Sodertelge, for the Baltic, have their landing- places. (3) Helgeandsholmen (" the isle of the Holy Ghost ") is at present occupied by the royal stables. The Norrbro ("north bridge"), connecting the old town with the northern shore, passes the eastern extremity of the island. (4) Norrmalmen (" the northern suburb ") begins at the Norrbro with the market of Gustavus Adolphus, where his statue stands between the theatre royal and the crown prince's palace. Norrmalmen is one of the best- built parts of the city, with broad straight streets; it contains four parish churches and also the English church, the Boman Catholic church, and the Jewish synagogue. In the south-eastern corner is a large open space, Kungs- tradgarden ("the royal garden"), with the statues of Charles XII. and Charles XlII. and a fountain, one of the prin- cipal playgrounds for children. Near it is another park, with the statue of Berzelius. Norrmalmen has several public buildings, such as the post-office, the principal rail- way station, the academy of art, the academy of sciences, the high technical school, and the school of metallurgy, the technical school, the observatory, &c. On the northern side of Norrmalmen lies the principal cemetery. (5) Blasieholmen, united with Norrmalmen since the filling up of the canal which formerly separated them, contains the national museum, the academy of music, &c. (6) Skeppsholmen ("the isle of ships") and (7) Castellholmen both belong to the admiralty. (8) Kungsholmen ("the isle of the king "), to the west of Norrmalmen, contains a parish church, the mint, the high school of medicine, several hospitals, and many factories. (9) Ladugardslandet takes its name from the farm yard (ladugard) of the royal castle, which formerly occupied a great part of its area. It became a part of the city in the middle of the 17th century, but until recently played a very subordinate part, owing to want of water. Since the introduction of the new water-supply this part of Stockholm has grown wonderfully, and is now the finest part of the city, with more than 40.000 inhabitants. It has a fine park, Humlegarden ("hop garden"), with the royal library and the statue of Linnasus. Most of the barracks of Stockholm, as well as the high military school, are situated in this quarter of the town. (10) Djurgarden ("deer garden") is a royal park, with villas, restaurants, shipbuilding yards, &c. (11) Södermalmen ("the southern suburb") is separated from Staden by the sluice already mentioned. On an open space at the side of the channel stands the statue of Charles XIV. (Bernadotte). The larger part of this suburb, with its two parish churches, chapels, hospitals, &c, stands at a considerable elevation, and communication has been facilitated by the construction of two elevators. On the outskirts are factories, foundries, &c.

A glance at the map at once shows how important have been its water-facilities in forming the character of Stockholm. From all sides the water permeates the different parts of the city, separating them, yet at the same time helping to unite them. Stretching far away to east and to west between shores and islands sometimes open and cultivated, sometimes rocky and covered with trees, the water entices the inhabitants to make excursions and to reside for a part of the year in the country ; in the summer the city is largely deserted. The site is universally recognized as extremely picturesque. The great water-surface has also a beneficent influence upon the climate. In 1884 the mean temperature was 42°.47 Fahr., the highest temperature of the year being 72°.4 Fahr. (2nd and 5th July), the lowest .0°-4 Fahr. (30th November). The year's rainfall amounted to 18.3 inches, the number of rainy days being 129. The best time for visiting Stockholm is the latter half of June, when the evening and morning lights, reflected from the water and seen through the young and luxuriant verdure, produce singularly beautiful and varied effects.

In Sweden the cities formerly played a comparatively subordinate part. During the Swedish Middle Ages the prominent classes were the nobility, the clergy, and the peasantry. The anti-aristocratic revolution of the 14th and the 15th centuries had in Sweden its principal supporters among the peasants. But the importance of the cities has gradually increased, and recent times have witnessed an accelerated development, which is best exemplified by the history of Stockholm. The number of inhabitants was, in 1800, 75,517; in 1825, 79,473; in 1850, 93,070; in 1860, 112,391; in 1870, 136,016; in 1880, 168,775; in 1884, 205,123; and in December 1885, 215,688. In 1884 11,916 were qualified to take part in the election of members of the lower house of parliament. Along with the rapid increase of population went a correspondingly increased industrial activity and a considerable development in the means of communication. The number of mechanics in 1884 was 11,064 (8716 of the wage-earning class), the corresponding numbers for 1880 being 9664 and 7483. The number of factories in 1884 was 275, employing 9810 workpeople (including 2638 women), and producing to the value of 32,355,565 Swedish crowns (£1,797,531). The merchants in 1884 numbered 3828, with 6554 assistants. In the same year 37,561 vessels entered (21,460 steamers), while 37,699 (21,565 steamers) cleared. Of these 1688 entered from and 1159 cleared for foreign ports. In former times Stockholm had the com-mand of all the foreign commerce for the country round Lake Malar, and for the whole of northern Sweden; but more recently the northern cities have made themselves to a certain extent inde-pendent of the capital.

For communication between the different parts of Stockholm omnibuses and small rowing boats have now given place to small steamers; in 1884 sixty-three of these were in use in the city and its immediate vicinity. In 1880 tramways were constructed for Staden, Norrmalmen, Kungsholmen, and Ladugardslandet.

The city forms a separate administrative district under a governor (ofverstathallare). In ecclesiastical matters it belongs to the archbishopric of Upsala, and the archbishop has the right to preside in its consistory, of which the president generally is the pastor primarius, the rector of St Nicholas. The members of this consistory are the rectors of the other seven territorial parishes and the rectors of the Finnish and German congregations. There is also a court consistory, presided over by the chief court preacher.

It was not until modern times that Stockholm became the capital of Sweden. The mediaeval kings visited year by year different parts of the kingdom, where they lived for a shorter or longer time. When, from the development of state affairs, the need of a capital came to be felt, no city could compete with the claims of Stockholm. It is the usual residence of the king; in the summer he lives generally in one of the palaces in the neighbourhood; some part of every year he passes in his Norwegian capital. The supreme court of justice has its seat in Stockholm, as well as the Svea Hofrätt, the next highest tribunal for central and northern Sweden. It is also the seat of all the other central governmental boards.

Stockholm is also the seat of seven academies. (1) The Swedish Academy, with eighteen members, founded in 1786, deals with the language and literature of Sweden. It is engaged upon a Swedish dictionary, and celebrates every year the memory of some renowned Swede. (2) The academy of sciences, founded in 1739, with 100 ordinary members, distributed into nine classes, and 75 foreign members, has charge of the royal museum of natural history, the physical, astronomical, and meteorological institutes, and the botanical garden. (3) The academy of belles lettres, history, and antiquities, founded in 1753, reformed in 1786, now occupies itself only with history and antiquities ; it has 14 honorary members, 20 ordinary members, 16 foreign members and correspondents. The secretary of this academy is, at the same time, as royal antiquary of Sweden and garde des médailles, director of the archaeological, historical, and numismatical state collections, and inspector of the antiquities of the kingdom. (4) The academy of agriculture, founded in 1811, with 24 honorary members, 136 ordinary and 75 foreign members, occupies itself with agriculture and fisheries. It has an experimental institution for agricultural chemistry, physiology of plants, gardening, and practical agriculture. (5) The academy of fine arts, founded in 1735, has charge of the official school of art. (6) The academy of music, founded in 1771, has the care of the state conservatory of music. (7) The academy of military sciences was founded in 1796. Each of these academies is a distinct body; most of them publish their transactions, and each has its own library.

There are several private societies of a scientific character, such as the society for publication of historical documents, the historical society, the society of anthropology and geography, the society of national antiquities, the geological society, the society of natural sciences, the entomological society, &c.

Stockholm has no state university, but there is a high school of medicine (Carolinska Institute), which has several professors of mathematics and natural science. The city has also a high technical school, a technical school, a high military school, and a military school (in the palace of Carlberg, outside of the city), a veterinary school, a school of pharmacy, seven more or less complete secondary schools, and two seminaries for female teachers, besides private schools. The number of pupils in the secondary schools in 1884 was 2294 and in the primary schools 14,351.

The following are the principal public collections. (1) The royal historical museum (in the national museum) contains a remarkably rich series of the prehistoric antiquities of the country. Founded in the 17th century, it has made greatest progress since 1837. (2) The royal numismatical collection (in the national museum) contains about 90,000 coins and medals. The series of Anglo-Saxon coins found in Sweden is very important. (3) The numismatical collec-tion of the Bank of Sweden (in the bank offices) contains very good series of Swedish coins and medals. (4) The royal collection of armour and royal dresses (in the royal palace) is very rich in speci-mens of the 17th and 18th centuries. (5) The royal museum of fine and industrial arts (in the national museum) contains sculptures, pictures, engravings, drawings, &e. The collection of Swedish art is, of course, very rich. Of foreign schools that of the Netherlands is best represented. The collection illustrating the development of industrial arts consists principally of gifts of Charles XV. and Count A. Bjelke. (6) The royal museum of natural history (in the palace of the academy of sciences), with very rich zoological, botanical, palaeontological, and mineral series, is exceedingly rich in objects from the arctic regions. Other collections deserving mention are (7) the museum of the geological survey of Sweden ; (8) the museum of the school of medicine; (9) the northern museum, a private institution, a very rich collection representing the life of all social classes of the north; (10) the royal library, very rich in books and manuscripts; and (11) the royal archives.

See Elers, Stockholm, 4 vols., 1800-1801 ; Ferlin, Stockholms Stad; Berättelser angaende Stockholms Kommunalförvaltning. (H. HI.).


558-1 Before the rise of Stockholm Björkö, Sigtuna, and Upsala were places of great importance. Björkö (" the isle of birches "), by foreign authors called Birca, was a kind of capital where the king lived occasionally at least; history speaks of its relations with Dorestad in the Netherlands, and the extensive refuse heaps of the old city, as well as the numerous sepulchral monuments, show that the population must have been large. But, though situated at a central point on the Malar Lake, it was destroyed, apparently before the beginning of the 11th century, we do not exactly know when nor by whom; and, once destroyed, it never recovered. Sigtuna, lying on the shore of a far-reaching northern arm of Lake Malar, also a royal residence and the seat of the first mint in Sweden, where English workmen were employed by King Olaf at the beginning of the 11th century, was, though much more sheltered than Björkö, destroyed in the course of the 12th century.

The above article was written by: Dr Hans Hildebrand, Stockholm.

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