Reykjavík Of Yore: Squatting, And The Total Failure of Zoning - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Reykjavík Of Yore: Squatting, And The Total Failure of Zoning

Reykjavík Of Yore: Squatting, And The Total Failure of Zoning

Published April 20, 2017

Valur Grettisson
Photo by
Timothée Lambrecq

Ah, the wonderful year of 1919. The year after Great War ended. The Europeans were still dealing with its devastating consequences, not knowing that it was just a short break before the full-blown psychotic breakdown of Adolf Hitler. Communism was still brewing in Russia after the bloody revolution of 1917. The Bolsheviks were starting to execute minor royals the same year the older photo shown here was taken, at the corner of Laugavegur and Vatnsendastíg. At the bottom of the picture you can see an old sailing boat and Mount Esja.

This block found itself in the national news many years later, after Iceland’s banks collapsed, when anarchists squatted in the middle house to the right. They refused to leave and had to be overpowered by the police after a siege that lasted few hours.

This picture is also a good illustration of Icelanders’ complete lack of talent when it come to zoning. For some reason Icelanders built small houses in the middle of the city, but tower blocks by the seaside, so nobody can see the ocean except the billionaires who live there.

And, just for fun, the newer picture was taken shortly after Donald Trump was elected, and Vladimir Putin probably executed someone the same day. Although it was probably not a royal. Not even a minor one.

Read more ‘Reykjavík of Yore’ posts here.

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