This fantastic archive photography shows how different Norway's second biggest city Bergen looked in the 1800s.
Regular readers will now I occasionally like to dig into the archives to bring you historic photography. I find it fascinating to see what the streets I walk in 2021 used to look like decades or even centuries ago.
Previously I've looked through the lens at weddings in the fjord region, fires in Trondheim and the peaceful Nordfjord, among others. This time, the spotlight falls on the history of Bergen. All photos are courtesy of the City of Bergen's photo archive.
Views of Bergen
The Bergen of today is well known for its views from the many mountains that surround the city. Most notable is the view from Mount Fløyen at the top of the Fløibanen funicular.
Judging by these photos from around 150 years ago, people enjoyed hiking up for the views then too.
While the shape of the city is familiar, look closely and you'll see significant differences. Unlike today, the city is mostly low-rise and not as spread out as it is today.
From 1850 onwards, Bergen grew rapidly thanks to people moving to the city largely from the more rural counties of western Norway. Increasing industrialisation led to a shift in jobs from the countryside to the city.
Read more: Bryggen, Bergen's UNESCO World Heritage Site
The differences become more obvious when taking a closer look at the waterfront. Most notably, how active the harbour is! Today the harbour is primarily a tourist attraction, but in the 19th century it was very much a hub for fishing and trade.
In the 19th century, thousands of Norwegians left the country in search of better fortunes abroad. The photo below shows an emigration ship moored in the harbour, bound for destination unknown.
Despite this emigration, Bergen enjoyed population growth. The city firmly established itself as the base of Norwegian shipping, leading a rapid transition from sail to steam.
Aside from the waterfront, the biggest difference you'll notice is the lack of people, despite the population growth. Of course, what little tourism there was paled in comparison to modern times.
I don't think I've ever seen Torgallmenning and Torvet so quiet, even in the middle of the night!
Towards the end of the 19th century, three- and four-storey tenement blocks of varying standards were built to house the growing population.
We are also, of course, in the era before the motorcar. A few horse-and-carts are visible, but most people got around the city on foot, or by boat.
The Norwegian violinist and composer Ole Bull lived from February 1810 to August 1880. Born in Bergen, Bull left a long-lasting legacy on the city. The Ole Bull Scene concert hall is just one example.
Bull had his summer house in Valestrand, near Bergen. The house was designed by his youngest brother, the architect Georg Andreas Bull. Ole Bull lived there for a time principally between tours, before moving his family to the island of Lysøyen in 1872.
The crowds attending his funeral in 1880 showed the popularity of Ole Bull among the residents of his home town.
If you want to check out more history of Bergen, take a look at the video we recorded at Gamle Bergen Museum.