Copenhagen’s Potato Row

Mar 26, 2021 0 comments

In the heart of Copenhagen, not far from the harbor, are a series of closely laid streets with houses smashed together like rows of potato plants in a field. Officially it is the Farimagsgade district, but the Danes call it Kartoffelrækkerne, literally “potato row”. The term has another origin: this land, before it became an estate, was an actual potato field.

The potato rows were built in the 1870s and 1880s by the Workers' Building Association to provide cheap and hygienic accommodation to working people. In the late 19th century, as industrialization gained momentum and people began to move from the country to the city, it became both difficult and dangerous for health to squeeze more people together in crude side and back house buildings within Copenhagen's ramparts. So the city was expanded with new buildings, and one of them became Kartoffelrækkerne with nearly five hundred buildings.


Kartoffelrækkerne. Photo: Droneklik

Originally, each three-story house was shared by two to three families with each family occupying one floor. Throughout the 1900s, until the mid-century, the potato rows housed an average of eight people per dwelling. Through the years, the standards of maintenance in the house became worse and worse, and by the 1970s the city was determined to get rid of them and build a motorway through the land and over the adjacent lakes. But the residents fought back. Together with the local authorities, the rows’ residents association agreed to renovate the houses from top to bottom.

Despite being built to serve as affordable accommodations for the working class of the 19th century, the potato row is today one of the most expensive and most sought-after neighborhoods in Copenhagen due to its central location, safe streets, and perfectly sized homes with enough private space.




Kartoffelrækkerne. Photo: Droneklik


Kartoffelrækkerne. Photo: Droneklik


Street level view of the houses of Kartoffelrækkerne. Photo: Victor Valore/Wikimedia Commons

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