Abstract

Early in the morning of May 12, 1971, workmen armed with chainsaws arrived at the Kungsträdgåxrden, a park in central Stockholm, to remove a group of elm trees on the site of a planned subway entrance and shopping mall. The timing was chosen to outmanuever protesters, who for several weeks had camped on the site in a final attempt to stop the trees being felled. However, on the night in question, thousands of people quickly gathered and the protest turned violent. In the history of modern Swedish planning, the "Almstriden" (The elm war) can be seen as a turning point. The action of saving a group of symbolically significant trees came to mark an end of the general support for modernization that had marked Swedish culture since 1930 during the years of socialist government, and also marked an end to the nation's trust in the welfare state's planning system under socialist government. This article traces the peculiar amalgamation of conservative and radical movements engaged in the "saving" of Stockholm's historic core, arguing that the turn away from "the modern" represents a fundamental shift in Swedish preservation culture that would lead finally to a redefinition and expansion of what constituted a historic object.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1934-6026
Print ISSN
1549-9715
Pages
pp. 106-123
Launched on MUSE
2011-08-26
Open Access
No
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