1001 STORIES OF DENMARK

Copenhagen Waterworks

Waterworks to clean up public health

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PHOTO: Caspar Jørgensen
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Copenhagen Waterworks on Studiestræde 54 was built in 1859 when the city really began to embrace industrialisation. It gathered everything in one place - the boiler and coal house as well as staff housing. The buildings were designed by N.S. Nebelong. The central machine hall once housed the noisy pumps and three 50-ton steam engines but now only the old crane near the ceiling testifies to the days of the waterworks. So if you ever find yourself enjoying a concert in The Pump House", look up at the ceiling! "

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The seeping killer

In the 1850s, Copenhagen was densely built-up, crowded and filthy. The wells were full of bad water. There was no sewerage system - just communal toilets out in the backyard. And bacteria seeped into the hollowed-out tree trucks that channelled the water through the city. The city's residents were dropping like flies due to the bad water supplies and Copenhageners had been complaining about the lousy conditions for years. In 1853, when the cholera epidemic wiped out 5,000 citizens, complaints flooded in. Something must be done. The first step was to give the city permission to expand by removing the old embankments and gateways to the city. The next step towards improving health and sanitation was to build Copenhagen's first waterworks here at the old embankments.

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