1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Gothenburg

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GOTHENBURG (Swed. Göteborg), a city and seaport of Sweden, on the river Göta, 5 m. above its mouth in the Cattegat, 285 m. S.W. of Stockholm by rail, and 360 by the Göta canal-route. Pop. (1900) 130,619. It is the chief town of the district (län) of Göteborg och Bohus, and the seat of a bishop. It lies on the east or left bank of the river, which is here lined with quays on both sides, those on the west belonging to the large island of Hisingen, contained between arms of the Göta. On this island are situated the considerable suburbs of Lindholmen and Lundby.

The city itself stretches east and south from the river, with extensive and pleasant residential suburbs, over a wooded plain enclosed by low hills. The inner city, including the business quarter, is contained almost entirely between the river and the Rosenlunds canal, continued in the Vallgraf, the moat of the old fortifications; and is crossed by the Storahamn, Östrahamn and Vestrahamn canals. The Storahamn is flanked by the handsome tree-planted quays, Norra and Södra Hamngatan. The first of these, starting from the Stora Bommenshamn, where the sea-going passenger-steamers lie, leads past the museum to the Gustaf-Adolfs-Torg. The museum, in the old East India Company’s house, has fine collections in natural history, entomology, botany, anatomy, archaeology and ethnography, a picture and sculpture gallery, and exhibits of coins and industrial art. Gustaf-Adolfs-Torg is the business centre, and contains the town-hail (1670) and exchange (1849). Here are statues by B. E. Fogelberg of Gustavus Adolphus and of Odin, and of Oscar I. by J. P. Molin. Among several churches in this quarter of the city is the cathedral (Gustavii Domkyrka), a cruciform church founded in 1633 and rebuilt after fires in 1742 and 1815. Here are also the customs-house and residence of the governor of the län. On the north side, closely adjacent, are the Lilla Bommenshamn, where the Göta canal steamers lie, and the two principal railway stations, Statens and Bergslafs Bangård. Above the Rosenlunds canal rises a low, rocky eminence, Lilla Otterhälleberg. The inner city is girdled on the south and east by the Kungspark, which contains Molin’s famous group of statuary, the Belt-bucklers (Bältespännare), and by the beautiful gardens of the Horticultural Society (Trädgårdsforeningen). These grounds are traversed by the broad Nya Allé, a favourite promenade, and beyond them lies the best residential quarter, the first houses facing Vasa Street, Vasa Park and Kungsport Avenue. At the north end of the last are the university and the New theatre. At the west end of Vasa Street is the city library, the most important in the country except the royal library at Stockholm and the university libraries at Upsala and Lund. The suburbs are extensive. To the south-west are Majorna and Masthugget, with numerous factories. Beyond these lie the fine Slottskog Park, planted with oaks, and picturesquely broken by rocky hills commanding views of the busy river and the city. The suburb of Annedal is the workmen’s quarter; others are Landala, Garda and Stampen. All are connected with the city by electric tramways. Six railways leave the city from four stations. The principal lines, from the Statens and Bergslafs stations, run N. to Trollhättan, and into Norway (Christiania); N.E. between Lakes Vener and Vetter to Stockholm, Falun and the north; E. to Borås and beyond, and S. by the coast to Helsingborg, &c. From the Vestgöta station a narrow-gauge line runs N.E. to Skara and the southern shores of Vener, and from Sarö station near Slottskog Park a line serves Sarö, a seaside watering-place on an island 20 m. S. of Gothenburg.

The city has numerous important educational establishments. The university (Högskola) was a private foundation (1891), but is governed by a board, the members of which are nominated by the state, the town council, Royal Society of Science and Literature, directors of the museum, and the staffs of the various local colleges. There are several boys’ schools, a college for girls, a scientific college, a commercial college (1826), a school of navigation, and Chalmers’ Polytechnical College, founded by William Chalmers (1748-1811), a native of Gothenburg of English parentage. He bequeathed half his fortune to this institution, and the remainder to the Sahlgrenska hospital. A people’s library was founded by members of the family of Dickson, several of whom have taken a prominent part in philanthropical works in the city. The connexion of the family with Gothenburg dates from 1802, when Robert Dickson, a native of Montrose in Scotland, founded the business in which he was joined in 1807 by his brother James.

In respect of industry and commerce as a whole Gothenburg ranks as second to Stockholm in the kingdom; but it is actually the principal centre of export trade and port of register; and as a manufacturing town it is slightly inferior to Malmö. Its principal industrial establishments are mechanical works (both in the city and at Lundby), saw-mills, dealing with the timber which is brought down the Göta, flour-mills, margarine factories, breweries and distilleries, tobacco works, cotton mills, dyeing and bleaching works (at Levanten in the vicinity), furniture factories, paper and leather works, and shipbuilding yards. The vessels registered at the port in 1901 were 247 of 120,488 tons. There are about 3 m. of quays approachable by vessels drawing 20 ft., and slips for the accommodation of large vessels. Gothenburg is the principal port of embarkation of Swedish emigrants for America.

The city is governed by a council including two mayors, and returns nine members to the second chamber of the Riksdag (parliament).

Founded by Gustavus Adolphus in 1619, Gothenburg was from the first designed to be fortified, a town of the same name founded on Hisingen in 1603 having been destroyed by the Danes during the Calmar war. From 1621, when it was first chartered, it steadily increased, though it suffered greatly in the Danish wars of the last half of the 17th and the beginning of the 18th centuries, and from several extensive conflagrations (the last in 1813), which have destroyed important records of its history. The great development of its herring fishery in the latter part of the 18th century gave a new impulse to the city’s trade, which was kept up by the influence of the “Continental System,” under which Gothenburg became a depot for the colonial merchandise of England. After the fall of Napoleon it began to decline, but after its closer connexion with the interior of the country by the Göta canal (opened 1832) and Western railway it rapidly advanced both in population and trade. Since the demolition of its fortifications in 1807, it has been defended only by some small forts. Gothenburg was the birthplace of the poet Bengt Lidner (1757-1793) and two of Sweden’s greatest sculptors, Bengt Erland Fogelberg (1786-1854) and Johann Peter Molin (1814-1873). After the French Revolution Gothenburg was for a time the residence of the Bourbon family. The name of this city is associated with the municipal licensing system known as the Gothenburg System (see Liquor Laws).

See W. Berg, Samlingar till Göteborgs historia (Gothenburg, 1893); Lagerberg, Göteborg i äldre och nyare tid (Gothenburg, 1902); Fröding, Det forna Göteborg (Stockholm, 1903).