A Snapshot of Nørrebro

It’s a rainy day. Overcast and cold, too. As a result, there are few people out and about, but somehow that doesn’t damper the lively energy of Nørrebro. As I daintily navigate the pools of water that have accumulated on the sidewalk, I catch a whiff of sautéed garlic that is rapidly overpowered by vehicle exhaust. I pass a shawarma restaurant, then a pizza joint, then a sushi place. Bright graffiti catches my eye, made more vivid by the drizzling rain that soaks it. I gaze into storefronts showcasing eclectic clothing styles that I wish I could browse if only I could enter. Perhaps the most interactive part of my exploration is the playground I encounter. Unlike any I’ve seen at home, its aesthetic is accentuated by graffiti-style spray paint. Easily diverted by the colorful playscape, I inspect the artwork and climb the wooden planks. The installation is playful and eccentric––perhaps best encapsulating these known qualities of Nørrebro.

The area adjoining the playscape– featuring a stone frog, climbing wall, and various other wacky pieces of art

Another feature of the trendy spirit of Nørrebro is conveyed by the storefront of a stylish t-shirt shop, the walls covered in cartoonish figures in an appealing color scheme. Passing by, I pause to stop and examine the outside of the store. I peer in at the t-shirts displayed in the window and realize the colorful graphics on the wall served their purpose well: they caught my attention and drew me in. Except now, ironically, the pandemic prohibits me from going inside.

The t-shirt shop storefront

I loved strolling through the Assistens Cemetery a week ago. I imagine that many of the walkers and runners I saw there are among the same demographic inhabiting the Nørrebro district that I’m touring. I’m fond of how the people here use the cemetery as a gathering place where life is celebrated in the same place that death is mourned, and I equally appreciate their presence and influence in this vibrant neighborhood. I glance at the people who pass me, and while many are indistinguishable from the civilians I’ve seen in central Copenhagen, I notice several individuals who look like myself. Known for its multiculturalism, diversity, left-leaning politics, and acceptance of immigrants, I immediately take a liking to the area and those living in it.

I’m listening to a podcast about Nørrebro as I walk, hearing stories about the neighborhood while I take it in myself. The podcast tells me about the many bikes and cars that traverse The Queen Louise Bridge, a landmark I coincidentally find myself at as the narrator mentions it. As if on cue a group of bikers whizzes by, wheels a blur. I strain to hear the podcast over the humming motors of cars and the gentle chatter that comes in waves as couples brush up against me on the street. A speaker in the podcast criticizes Nørrebro for becoming more tame, more gentrified, more mainstream. And while I take to heart their conviction, it doesn’t curb my enthusiasm as I scope out the area, promising myself that I will soon return.

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