Nyboder in Copenhagen

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We had an extraordinary king Christian the 4th. He lived from 1588-1648. He lost all his wars to Sweden, but he was a very good builder and architect. In his time the navy was increasing and he created homes to the people working in the navy. The homes were terraced houses or row houses. He was the kind of king who was involved with every little detail of building and a lot of his letters are saved. He also built many other things like palaces and castles.

A new part of Copenhagen was used for this purpose, very close to the citadel and Holmen where the ships were built. The oldest house still existing is from 1635 the rest were rebuilt in the 1700s and 1800s.

The last place St. Kongensgade 145 where my grandmother lived until she got married

St. Kongensgade 145 this picture hung in my grandparents' house

St. Kongensgade 145 this picture hung in my grandparents’ house


The famous "Nyboder" houses made by king Christian IV in the 1600s. My grandmother lived there in her youth a hundred years ago.

The same address from last summer


The streets have names from flowers and animals and my grandmother Asta who was born May 1890 lived here in different addresses with her family until she got married in 1919. The married couples got flats in relation to how many children they had. Only in the 1920s they got W.C. installed to share with another family.

Her father William was a carpenter and ship builder at Holmen. Until the 1870s the people living there were obliged to let all there sons work at Holmen as builders or as sailors for many years. The area had their own schools and a hospital and even their own police for many years.



Willian Nielsen

Willian Nielsen carpenter at Holmen


Asta grew up with a great responsibility taking care of her ten-year younger brother Svend. Her father had more than one job and her mother were cleaning at different places.One of his jobs was a lamp lighter.

Asta went to school in the afternoon and her best friends went to school in the mornings, so she grew up quite lonely. Her father got a child with another woman in 1908 and lived for some years with that woman. This has been a major blow to the family and in 1915 Asta got very ill with a bleeding stomach ulcer. I connect it with the pressure on the family.

William came back to the family. Svend was a very handsome young man but it was difficult to trust him and my grandmother had to cut the connection to him. As a child I loved the fine pictures hanging on her wall with the two children.

Sevend and Asta ca 1902-1903

Last weekend I and my husband went to take pictures of the different addresses where Asta had lived. As we were looking at a door in Elsdyrsgade / Elk or Moose street a young man cleaning his window called us from his open window. He asked us to come and see his flat. As a girl I had visited relatives in a similar flat in Nyboder, but I had only a vague memory of that.

Hans Christian Andersen wrote a fairy tale from Nyboder called “The Elder-Tree Mother” about an old couple who could only remember their youth and childhood. The man had been a sailor of course.



We were so very pleased to come into the narrow hall and took the staircase upstairs to his flat.

We entered into a small kitchen passing a tiny bathroom beside the stairs. Then stepped into the small but very light living room with windows to both sides. At one end a small bedroom with a famous baby cot or crib. I have written about this cot in another post. I could tell the expecting couple about Viggo Einfeldt who created this baby cot during the WWII.

In the middle of the living room a cradle was hanging from the ceiling. The father told me that he thought about where the baby would prefer to sleep. I couldn’t help telling the couple that I was a former health visitor and that I would have loved to have been their health visitor. I suggested that the new-born likes to be swaddled and for sure will love to sleep in both places. The future father was so engaged in his new role and I felt that he had stepped further in showing is engagement than what I saw when I stopped working two years ago. I wish I could show you pictures, but we only took one from the window into the back yard. When you walk in the streets you can’t get in there.

I have a very dim picture of my great-grandmother from such a back yard in Nyboder.

The back yard in Nyboder 1919 from left Laura, Svend, Asta & Emry Laura, Svend, Asta & Emry

The back yard in Nyboder 1919 from left Laura, Svend, Asta & Emry
Laura, Svend, Asta & Emry




    • Thank you Maddy. I can’t recognise the women in the windows but I know it was the place where my grandmother lived from 1910-20 and that this picture hung on the wall through her married life in a province town called Holbaek. As a widow she moved to a small house close to my home as a child and I never saw the picture there but found it in a cousin’s photo album from where we scanned it. We will try to visit him again for a better scan.

      Liked by 1 person

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