July 24, 2015

Copenhagen 5: A Cosy Place on the Rainbow Square

We’ve reached the west end of Strøget, arriving at the Rådhuspladsen – the City Hall Square (map here).  One of the great gathering and protest places for Copenhagen – the hole, by contrast, in Vancouver’s fabric.
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City Hall Map
 Click to enlarge.
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To our left, City Hall itself – started in 1892, finished in 1905,  designed in what the Dane’s call their National Romantic Style (which says something about what the Dane’s consider romantic).  To its right, the more wonderful Palace Hotel from 1910, northern art nouveau, with its complementary tower.
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To the right, behind hoardings, the construction of another station for the Metro Circle Line.  Straight ahead, behind the Dragon Fountain, the glass facade of the massive DI building – home to Denmark’s industrial leaders.
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Behind it, the entrance to Tivoli Gardens.  But it’s late afternoon.  Time for a beer.
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And fortunately, there’s a nice place nearby at the southeast end of the plaza.  Only this corner has its own name: Regnbuepladsen – or Rainbow Square, renamed by City Council in February 2014 in celebration of equal rights.
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Oscar Bar Cafe, appropriately, is one of the most popular gay hangouts in the city (straights welcome) – spilling on to the plaza with chairs, tables, and blankets if you need them.  Cosy, just as the Danes like it.  And inside, no smoking.  (It is one of the curiosities of Denmark, at least from a Vancouverite’s point of view, that they even allow smoking in bars of a certain size – and a surprising number of Danes seem to light up everywhere.  This is one area where the welfare state seems reluctant to regulate.)
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No railings or ropes separate the drinkers from the vulnerable – just a few planters.  Yet civilization survives.  The problem for Vancouver, separate from over-regulation, is the lack of such spaces on which to spill.  Our tight grid and narrow sidewalks preclude such informality, save for some separated patios in unique places like Yaletown.
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But an opportunity has arisen.  Council has just approved the closure of a block at Bute south of Davie for the creation of Jim Deva Plaza – and design is underway.  Looks like an opportunity to become a little more Copenhagenish.
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