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Fact file : pedestrianisation
Copenhagen population  1.8 million +
city centre population  7,000
first Copenhagen pedestrian zone  Strøget
date opened  17th November 1962
length of pedestrianised streets  3.2km
central car-free public space  100,000 sq m
peak people/hour through Strøget  8,700
and (for comparision) through Munich's pedestrianised streets  20,000
More facts:
Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs
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Pedestrianisation timeline
Copenhagen lends itself to pedestrianisation perhaps more easily than other cities. The central area is small, laid out in a narrow grid in the Medieval period. The working and living areas of the city have always been in close juxtaposition, and today the city centre has some 7,000 residents.
Pedestrianisation began in the middle of the central district, spreading north and later west, east and south. Some of the surrounding streets give priority to pedestrians and bicycles, and cars are allowed only at slow speeds. From 1962 to 1988, the number of parking places in the centre was reduced by 2-3% per year, providing some 100,000 sq m of car-free public space.
The city's first pedestrianised zone opened in November 1962, with the main thoroughfare Strøget (stripe) — actually a chain of five streets: Østergade, Amagertorv, Vimmelskaftet, Nygade and Fredriksberggade. Strøget links the city's two main squares, Kongens Nytorv (King's New Square) and Rådhuspladsen (City Hall Square). Magasins Torv and part of Gammeltorv were also pedestrianised.
Pedestrianisation is not just good for the environment, it has proved to be good for the city's finances too because city-centre spending increases when pedestrian areas grow — people linger and are more likely to buy, it seems.
1962 17th November, Copenhagen's first pedestrianised zone opens — Strøget
1968 14th May, Fiolstræde opens as the second pedestrianised street — north of Strøget, in the university district
7th June, Gråbrødretorv becomes the first city square to be a pedestrian zone
1968-95 The number of people spending time in the public spaces of the city centre increases by three and a half times
1972 Nikolaj Plads is pedestrianised
1972-73 The world oil crisis encourages the reduction of car use, and pedestrianisation continues
1973 16th April, Købmagergade is the third street to be pedestrianised, linking the main train station with the city centre
Store Kannikestræde, Rosengaarden and Pilestræde are closed to car traffic by 1st July
The squares at Kultorvet and parts of Nina Bangs Plads and Nytorv are pedestrianised
1980 29th July, the quay at Nyhavn becomes a pedestrian zone
Toftegårds Plads in Valby is pedestrianised
1986 16th June, Højbro Plads is pedestrianised
1986-96 About 600 car parking spaces are removed
1988 22nd January, Axeltorv becomes first square to the west of the city centre to be pedestrianised
1989 1st September, Strædet, parallel to Strøget, is turned into a pedestrian priority street: buses are banned but cars may enter at low speeds
1990 Nina Bangs Plads is pedestrianised fully
1991 Gammel Strand beside the canal (May) and Vandkunsten square (August) are pedestrianised
Axeltorv is refurbished
1992 Strædet becomes a fully pedestrian street (Sepetember), completing Copenhagen's pedestrian street network —later projects focus on pedestrianising public squares and other open areas
The connecting squares Gammeltorv and Nytorv are re-paved and opened as a pedestrian-only spaces
1993 Amagertorv becomes a pedestrian square and is re-paved with patterned granite designed by sculptor Bjørn Nørgård
Mozarts Plads in south west Copenhagen, Christianshavns Torv in east Copenhagen, Vesterbro Torv and Sankt Hans Torv are pedestrianised
1994 Melchiors Plads in east Copenhagen is pedestrianised
1994-96 Danish Academy of Arts study of the development of pedestrianisation in Copenhagen's streets and squares (see box at right)
1995 By now, 80% of traffic activity in the city centre is pedestrian
11th August, Ved Stranden is pedestrianised, though buses are allowed through the square
Enghave Plads in West Copenhagen in pedestrianised
1996 Copenhagen now has six times the area of car-free space than when the initiatives began in 1962
1st January, Rådhuspladsen is changed from a congested traffic artery into a pedestrianised square
The cobblestones at Nyhavn are renovated, as is Højbro Plads, now a market square
2000 By now, parking places have been removed from 18 of the city's squares and there are 1,500 benches and 5,000 café seats to tempt pedestrians
2005 Copenhagen has one of the lowest rates of car ownership in Europe at 208 per 1,000 of the population (Rome has the highest at 665 per 1,000 of the population)
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Pedestrianised areas
1962 ... Strøget ... first pedestrianised street
1968 ... Fiolstræde (street)
1968 ... Gråbrødretorv (square)
1972 ... Nikolaj Plads (square)
1973 ... Købmagergade (street)
1973 ... Store Kannikestræde (street)
1973 ... Rosengården (street)
1973 ... Pilestræde (street)
1973 ... Kultorvet (square)
1973 ... Frue Plads (square)
1980 ... Nyhavn (quay)
1986 ... Højbro Plads (market square)
1988 ... Axeltorv (square)
1989 ... Strædet (street, fully pedestrianised 1992))
1990 ... Nina Bangs Plads (square)
1991 ... Vandkunsten (square)
1991 ... Gammelstrand (square)
1992 ... Gammeltorv (square)
1992 ... Kongens Nytorv (square)
1993 ... Amagertorv (square)
1995 ... Ved Stranden (square)
1996 ... Rådhuspladsen (square)
The 1996 study
of Copenhagen's city centre
In 1996, Danish architects and planners
Jan Gehl and Lars Gemzøe published the results of a detailed study on how people used Copenhagen's city centre, as carried out by students from the Department of Urban Design in the School of Architecture at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts.
The idea was to explore how the city centre had developed over the preceeding 34 years, since the establishment of pedestrianisation in Støget. The study also examined changes in urban life and made comparisons with other cities.
You can read the results in ...
Public Spaces - Public Life,
Copenhagen 1996

by Jan Gehl and Lars Gemzøe
The Danish Architectural Press and
the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts School of Architecture, Copenhagen, 2004
ISBN 87 7404 305 2
The study was part of the School of Architecture's contribution to Copenhagen '96 - Cultural Capital of Europe.