The American Cyclopædia (1879)/Christiania

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CHRISTIANIA. I. A province of Norway, bounded E. by Sweden, and S. by the Skager Rack; area, 11,000 sq. m.; pop. about 500,000. It is covered with mountains, contains the Mjösen, Fämund, Tyri, and other lakes, and is traversed by the Drammen, Glommen, and numerous other rivers. Limited quantities of cereals are produced in the small valleys, and cattle and horses abound. The mineral productions include iron, copper, and silver. The principal article of trade is timber. The province was formerly known as Aggerhuus, the present designation of a district. II. A seaport of Norway, capital of the province and of the kingdom, situated at the head of a fiord, in lat. 59° 55′ 20″ N., lon. 10° 44′ 45″ E., 250 m. W. N. W. of Stockholm; pop. in 1870, 66,657. The fiord of Christiania, an arm of the Skager Rack, extends inland about 75 m. The streets are broad, the houses chiefly of brick stuccoed. The new palace, Oscar's hall, occupying a fine site a short distance beyond the city limits, was completed during the reign of the late king Charles XV. The university was founded in 1811; the number of students is between 700 and 800; the library contained in 1871 more than 150,000 volumes; and there are belonging to the institution museums of mineralogy, zoölogy, northern antiquities, and botany, and an observatory. There are high schools, a school of drawing for workmen, and a normal school for teachers; several learned societies; commercial, naval, and military schools; an art union, and gallery of paintings of native artists; a national gallery with several treasures of art, and a theatre. Among the principal public buildings are a cathedral, four churches, a council house, exchange, military hospital, and two orphan asylums. The new lunatic asylum occupies a large building, and is arranged on the best modern principles. Among the charitable institutions is one for vagrant and homeless girls called the Eugenia institute. At the southern extremity of the town, occupying a slight elevation, and commanding the harbor, is the ancient castle of Aggerhuus, in which are preserved the national archives and regalia. The ramparts which formerly surrounded the town have been converted since the peace of 1815 into public promenades and gardens. The prosperity of Christiania dates from the peace of 1814, since which time its population has more than quadrupled. A railway from Christiania to Lake Mjosen, bringing some of the most populous and productive parts of the interior into direct intercourse with the sea, has been in operation since 1849, and an electric telegraph communication with London since June, 1855. The manufactures are inconsiderable, consisting mainly of hardware, glass, woollens, cotton, cordage, tobacco, and corks. The exports in 1871 amounted to $2,608,442, of which lumber, oats, and cotton yarn were the principal articles. The imports were $96,460,293, of which cotton, rye and barley, coffee, woollen goods, sugar, coal, pork, and tobacco were the principal articles. The entries into the port were 264 steamers, of 86,732 tons, and 1,330 sailing vessels, of 176,121 tons.

AmCyc Christiania - Storthing house.jpg

The New Storthing House.

—The nucleus of Christiania was the ancient town of Opslo, east of the present city, founded in the 11th century. In the beginning of the 14th century the fortress of Aggerhuus, the first building within what is now the city proper, was erected. In 1523, and again in 1567, Opslo was burned by the Swedes. It was again burned in 1624, when King Christian IV. founded a town around the fortress of Aggerhuus, to which the inhabitants of Opslo soon removed. A wall with bastions was afterward built. In 1630, and again in 1654, half of the inhabitants died of the plague. The great London fire of 1666 laid the foundations of the trade of Christiania, by creating a demand for Norwegian lumber. In 1716 the Swedes took possession of the city, but were driven out in six weeks, after which the fortress was much strengthened. In 1858 a fire took place in which 60 buildings in the centre of the town were burned, and 1,000 people rendered houseless, the loss being estimated at $1,100,000. Since that time a great improvement has taken place in the architecture of the dwellings, many of which are of large dimensions. The Christiania Intelligentssedler, founded in 1763, is the oldest Norwegian newspaper.