name = Södermalm
image caption = 18th century housing facing
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coordinates = coord|59|19|N|18|04|E|display=inline
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country = Sweden
country admin divisions title = Borough
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country admin divisions title 1 = Municipality
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population = 100,000
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ethnic groups = Swedish
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Södermalm (often shortened to "
Söder", "South"), is a district in central Stockholm. It covers the large island "Åsön", and commonly the islands "Reimersholme" and "Långholmen" are referred to as part of Södermalm. With a population of over 100,000 (2006)cite web
url = http://www.usk.stockholm.se/tabellverktyg/tv.aspx?projekt=omradesfakta&omrade=sdo12
title = Områdesfakta Södermalm
publisher = Utrednings- och statistikkontoret (USK)
accessdate = 2007-07-03
language = Swedish (figure given for 2006 is 111 640)] , it is one of the most densely populated districts of
Södermalm is connected to its surrounding areas by a number of bridges. It connects to
Gamla Stan(Old Town) to the north by Slussen, a grid of road and rail and a lock that separates the lake Mälarenfrom the Baltic Sea, to Långholmenand Kungsholmento the northwest by one of the city's larger bridges, Västerbron, to the islet Reimersholmeto the west, to Liljeholmento the southwest by the bridge Liljehomlsbron, to Årstabergby Årstabron, Årsta and Johanneshovto the south by Skantullsbron, and, finally, to Nackato the east by Danvikstull Bridge.
Administratively, Södermalm is part of
Stockholm Municipality. It constitutes, together with Gamla stanand Hammarby Sjöstad, from 2007 the administratve district "Södermalms stadsdelsområde", often translated as Södermalm borough.
The name Södermalm ("suthraemalm") is mentioned already in 1288 in a letter from Bishop Anund of Strängnäs. Until the early 17th century Södermalm was mainly a rural, agricultural area. Its first urban areas were planned and built in the mid 17th century, comprising of a mixture of working class housing, such as the little red cottages among which some are still to be seen on the northeastern side of Södermalm, and summer houses and pavilions of wealthier families, such as
Emanuel Swedenborg's pavilion, which is to be seen in the outdoor museum Skansen. During this time, it was also the location of the perhaps first theatre in Scandinavia, Björngårdsteatern. Södermalm is often poetically referred to as "Söders höjder", the Heights of 'Söder', which reflects its topography of sheer cliffs and rocky hills. Indeed the hills of Södermalm still provide remarkable views of Stockholm's skyline.
In the 18th century, the working class cottages that clung to
Mariaberget, the steep cliffs facing Riddarfjärden, were replaced by the large buildings that are there to the present day. It was not until the beginning of the 20th century that urbanisation grasped the entire width of Södermalm, and even today parts of Södermalm have rural feeling to them, as for instance the landscape of tiny allotments that climb the slopes of Eriksdal.
For long Södermalm was mainly known as a working class area, renowned for its poverty and regarded as a slum. While there has been a romantic air about Södermalm for many decades, its slow ascendancy toward better reputation began as late as in the 1970s or 80s. Today it is considered a fashionable place to live or to go to, and it boasts prominent shopping districts and a wide range of cafés, restaurants and bars.
Also, rather than being known as a slum, Södermalm is now known as home of bohemia,
alternative cultureand a broad range of cultural amenities. Meanwhile, the growing demand of housing, as well as an increasing gentrificationof Stockholm's central parts, makes apartments in Södermalm more and more difficult or expensive to come by. Thus what was once a working class district is now rather a district of the privileged. [Franzén, M. "New social movements and gentrification in Hamburg and Stockholm: A comparative study." Journal of Housing and the Built Environment 20 (2005): 51-77.]
In poetry and fiction
* The songs and poems of the popular 18th century poet and song-writer
Carl Michael Bellman, born and raised on Södermalm, are filled with recurring references to names of places, perhaps primarily bars and meadhalls, on Södermalm.
* The celebrated first paragraph of
August Strindberg's satirical novel "The Red Room" ("Röda rummet") describes Stockholm as seen from Mosebacke on Södermalm, where much of the story takes place.
* "City of My Dreams" ("Mina drömmars stad"), the first in a series of books by
Per Anders Fogelströmtelling the story of several generations of Stockholmers, follows the young worker "Henning's" life on Södermalm.
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