CLOSE
Original image
iStock

25 Things You Should Know About Stockholm

Original image
iStock

Stockholm’s 73 square miles stretch over islands and hills [PDF], encompassing modern Scandinavian designs and cobblestone streets that look straight out of a fairytale. Located where the Baltic Sea meets Lake Mälaren, Sweden's waterfront capital has as little as six hours of daylight in the winters and as much as 18 hours of sun in the summers. Read up on 25 other tidbits about the city nicknamed the Venice of the North.

1. The name Stockholm comes from the words stock meaning "log" and holm meaning "islet." No one seems to know exactly how the town got its tag; one account claims that Vikings trying to determine the location of their new settlement used a log bound with gold, while others point to the masses of logs driven into the waters near Old Town.

2. The first recorded use of the name "Stockholm" dates back to 1252 when it appeared in a letter written by Swedish statesman Birger Jarl.

3. Stockholm was built on 14 islands, connected by 57 bridges, earning the Swedish capital the nickname "Beauty on the Water."

4. Kungliga Operan—the Royal Swedish Opera—was founded by King Gustav III in 1773. Nineteen years later, he was shot at a masked ball at the venue and died. The building stood for another century, then was torn down in 1892. A new opera house was built in 1898 and inaugurated by King Oscar II. Today, the theater still stands in the same spot across the Norrbro bridge from the Royal Palace.

iStock


5.
Stockholm’s Old Town, or Gamla Stan, remains one of the best preserved historic districts in Europe—partially due to the fact that its cobblestone streets are reserved for pedestrians only.

6. The narrowest street in Old Town is Mårten Trotzigs alley, which has 36 steps and is a mere 35 inches wide at its slimmest point.

7. The Baroque-era Royal Palace on the Old Town island has more than 600 rooms spread across seven floors and a daily Changing of the Guard at 12:15 p.m. (1:15 p.m. on Sundays).

8. In 1628, the great Vasa warship, which took three years to build, sunk in the Stockholm harbor after sailing barely 4200 feet. It took a whopping 333 years to salvage the remains. Today the iconic ship stands in its own equally striking 134,979-square-foot museum, which features 55 outer wall corners.


9.
Sweden’s oldest amusement park, Grona Lund, dates back to 1883, when a garden inside Djurgårdsstaden was transformed into the fairgrounds. Among the 30 rides are the Lustiga Huset (Fun House), which opened in 1917, and the Blå Tåget (Ghost Train), which has been scaring thrillseekers since 1935.

10. Built in 1891, Stockholm’s Djurgården island is home to Skansen, the world’s first open-air museum. The 150 buildings are a journey through 500 years of Sweden’s history, including Skåne farmsteads and Sami camps.

11. The Nobel Prizes in physics, chemistry, medicine and literature have been awarded in Stockholm every year since 1901 on December 10, the anniversary of Alfred Nobel’s death. Why? The Swedish-born inventor requested so in his will. As for the Nobel Peace Prize? That honor is bestowed in another Scandinavian capital: Oslo.

12. If a local invites you to join him or her for fika, they're really just asking you if you'd like to take a coffee break. (Usually there's also some kind of pastry involved.)

13. When an architecture student discovered that 13 elm trees were scheduled to be chopped down in Stockholm’s Kungsträdgården for construction of a metro station, he got his hands on a copy of the plan—as well as three alternate plans which didn’t involve touching the trees—and spread the word. The day before they were supposed to be cut on May 13, 1971, almost 1000 Swedes gathered in protest, some even climbing the trees. Trees from the Battle of the Elms still stand today—although scars from a chain saw can still be seen on one.

14. The Nordic tradition of saunas is still alive at the 32,292-square-foot Centralbadet bath house in the heart of Stockholm. Designed by architect Wilhelm Klemming and opened in 1904, the spa’s main pool has hosted world-class competitions, including several with five-time Olympic medalist Arne Borg.

15. Craving some art? Head down into Stockholm’s metro stations. Dubbed the World’s Longest Art Gallery, more than 90 of the 100 stations along the 68 miles of track have been decorated with mosaics, paintings, sculptures, and carvings by artists since the 1950s.

iStock


16.
Sweden’s national treasure, the global furniture chain IKEA, boasts a 594,167-square-foot location in Stockholm’s Kugens Kurva municipality. Opened in 1965, it remained the world’s largest for 49 years, until the 2014 construction of a 635,070-square-foot store in South Korea’s Gwangmyeong.

17. The term "Stockholm Syndrome" was coined by criminologist and psychiatrist Nils Bejerot after hostages from a six-day siege at Norrmalmstorg Square’s Kreditbanken bank in 1973 developed a liking for their captors. As one of the victims, Kristin Ehnmark, explained in 2009: "It's some kind of a context you get into when all your values, the morals you have, change in some way."

18. Sweden’s literacy rate is 99 percent, so it’s no surprise more than 4 million books are borrowed from Stockholm’s libraries annually.

19. What do Nelson Mandela, Beyoncé, and the Swedish national hockey team have in common? They’ve all taken center stage at the 16,000-seat Ericsson Globe, the world’s largest spherical building, which opened on February 19, 1989.

20. True Swedish Blood: Alexander Skarsgård was born in Stockholm on August 25, 1976 to actor dad Stellan Skarsgård, who has starred in 1990’s The Hunt for Red October, 1997’s Good Will Hunting, 2006’s Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, and 2008’s Mamma Mia.

21. Swedish commuters love their bikes: approximately 70,000 cyclists cross Stockholm’s city borders daily.

22. Tourism has been on the rise in Stockholm, with more than 26.5 million passengers arriving at Stockholm’s five area airports and more than 12 million overnight commercial hotel stays in 2014 [PDF].

23. To encourage people to take the stairs, in 2009, Volkswagen turned a staircase in the Odenplan metro station into a Big-like giant piano keyboard, so that Swedes could literally dance over musical notes as they exited. They found 66 percent more people opted for the stairs over the the escalator next to it.

24. When in Sweden, indulge in the Swedish meatballs. At Stockholm’s Meatballs for the People, you can sample14 kinds of meatballs, including ones made from turkey, reindeer, salmon, pork, boar, ox, moose, and rooster—all of which are “ecologically bred.”

25. Mamma mia: Stockholm has an entire museum dedicated to ABBA. While visitors can get a glimpse at some of the 1970s band’s gold records, wardrobe pieces, and gadgets, the true goal of the museum is to let you “experience the feeling of being the fifth member of ABBA,” by trying on clothes, singing in the Polar studios, and even channeling your inner dancing queen by getting on stage with holograms of the band.

Original image
iStock
arrow
travel
National Geographic Ranks The 25 Happiest Cities in the Country
Original image
iStock

Feeling unhappy? Maybe it's time to move. National Geographic recently released rankings of the 25 happiest cities in the U.S. The results: Eight of the 25 locations are in the Golden State, but the honor of No. 1 happiest city goes to Boulder, Colorado.

The rankings are based on 250,000 interviews conducted in 190 metropolitan areas between 2014 and 2015. The survey—developed by Dan Buettner, author of the new book The Blue Zones of Happiness, and Dan Witters, a senior scientist at Gallup—looked for data points that are correlated with life satisfaction and happiness, like whether or not you exercise, if you feel safe in your community, whether you feel like you live within your means, and whether you feel like you are reaching your goals.

A map of the U.S. showing which cities made the top 25 happiest cities index.
Courtesy National Geographic

Of course, all that isn’t necessarily the result of your geographical location. But you don’t see cities like Los Angeles or New York—where wealth is also clustered—on the list, so presumably San Franciscans are doing something a little differently.

Take a look for yourself. Here are the 25 happiest places in the U.S., according to the results.

1. Boulder, Colorado
2. Santa Cruz-Watsonville, California
3. Charlottesville, Virginia
4. Fort Collins, Colorado
5. San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles-Arroyo Grande, California
6. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, California
7. Provo-Orem, Utah
8. Bridgeport-Stamford, Connecticut
9. Barnstable Town, Massachusetts
10. Anchorage, Alaska
11. Naples-Immokalee-Marco Island, Florida
12. Santa Maria-Santa Barbara, California
13. Salinas, California
14. North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, Florida
15. Urban Honolulu, Hawaii
16. Ann Arbor, Michigan
17. San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, California
18. Colorado Springs, Colorado
19. Manchester-Nashua, New Hampshire
20. Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, California
21. Washington, D.C.-Arlington-Alexandria, Virginia/Maryland/West Virginia
22. Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, Minnesota/Wisconsin
23. San Diego-Carlsbad, California
24. Portland-South Portland, Maine
25. Austin-Round Rock, Texas

You can grab a copy of November’s National Geographic to read more about the world’s happiest places.

The cover of Dan Buettner’s The Blue Zones of Happiness and the cover of November 2017’s National Geographic.
National Geographic
Original image
Courtesy Umbrellium
arrow
Design
These LED Crosswalks Adapt to Whoever Is Crossing
Original image
Courtesy Umbrellium

Crosswalks are an often-neglected part of urban design; they’re usually just white stripes on dark asphalt. But recently, they’re getting more exciting—and safer—makeovers. In the Netherlands, there is a glow-in-the-dark crosswalk. In western India, there is a 3D crosswalk. And now, in London, there’s an interactive LED crosswalk that changes its configuration based on the situation, as Fast Company reports.

Created by the London-based design studio Umbrellium, the Starling Crossing (short for the much more tongue-twisting STigmergic Adaptive Responsive LearnING Crossing) changes its layout, size, configuration, and other design factors based on who’s waiting to cross and where they’re going.

“The Starling Crossing is a pedestrian crossing, built on today’s technology, that puts people first, enabling them to cross safely the way they want to cross, rather than one that tells them they can only cross in one place or a fixed way,” the company writes. That means that the system—which relies on cameras and artificial intelligence to monitor both pedestrian and vehicle traffic—adapts based on road conditions and where it thinks a pedestrian is going to go.

Starling Crossing - overview from Umbrellium on Vimeo.

If a bike is coming down the street, for example, it will project a place for the cyclist to wait for the light in the crosswalk. If the person is veering left like they’re going to cross diagonally, it will move the light-up crosswalk that way. During rush hour, when there are more pedestrians trying to get across the street, it will widen to accommodate them. It can also detect wet or dark conditions, making the crosswalk path wider to give pedestrians more of a buffer zone. Though the neural network can calculate people’s trajectories and velocity, it can also trigger a pattern of warning lights to alert people that they’re about to walk right into an oncoming bike or other unexpected hazard.

All this is to say that the system adapts to the reality of the road and traffic patterns, rather than forcing pedestrians to stay within the confines of a crosswalk system that was designed for car traffic.

The prototype is currently installed on a TV studio set in London, not a real road, and it still has plenty of safety testing to go through before it will appear on a road near you. But hopefully this is the kind of road infrastructure we’ll soon be able to see out in the real world.

[h/t Fast Company]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios