Three Stockholmer’s stories you haven’t heard

To travel, it’s sometimes enough just to go outside. “Plunge boldly into the thick of life, and seize it where you will, it is always interesting,” as Goethe put it. So I did, when I went to explore Stockholm as a tourist, after some 9 months of living here.

… Guess what the most popular Google search starting with “Stockholm” is?

Nope, I didn’t start my tour by Googling “Stockholm”…  Still, you probably guessed it: “Stockholm syndrome” – that’s the most frequently searched term with the word “Stockholm”. Without the slightest suspicion, I was passing by what once was Kreditbanken branch. As it turns out, the Norrmalmstorg robbery that happened there in 1973, revealed to the world how hostages can get emotionally attached to their captors – a phenomenon known as Stockholm syndrome.

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…Guess what Stockholm and New York have in common?

Hint: it’s not McDonald’s.  I heard of the survey results revealing that 40% of Stockholmers named New York as a preferred city to live in (after Stockholm, of course!). It probably started last century, when great many Swedish emigrants were returning from the US, and obviously lacking the attributes of modernity. Some deep-pocketed industrialists had enough influence to shape the city’s architecture. That’s how a Swedish version of Twin Towers emerged. Not that I’d see any resemblance…

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…Guess what a bird of copper on Norrmalmstorg stands for?

This Norrmalmstorg place first caught my attention not because of Stockholm syndrome, but because of the bizarre copper bird in the middle of the square. The bird seemed to be running away, as if it was put there as a model of how to navigate a street in the rush hour… First, you should know the bird’s name is Laura. It’s a creation of Ebba Hedquist. The sculpture was installed there in 1971 (before the bank robbery!). The hen with flopping wings, running away from the traffic, it was an embodiment of pedestrians who felt increasingly unsafe in the 60s, as Stockholm was becoming busier. Matters got even worse when the authorities decided to implement a changeover to right-hand driving in 1967. I guess the copper bird just fluttered away from the mess of the confused traffic, and decided to hang out on the pavement for a while. Its flopping wings and scared look remind us about the time when Stockholm roads got too dangerous even for birds.

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These stories are courtesy of Free Walking Tours Stockholm. They amused me so much I decided to share some with you. That’s all for now, – for more, come to Stockholm to discover this wonder-city for yourself=)

 

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Credit for the second image: hcarlberg.wordpress.com

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