Copenhagen’s Potato Row

In the heart of Copenhagen is a series of closely laid streets with houses smashed together like rows of potato plants in a field. It’s called Kartoffelrækkerne, which means “potato row.” That’s because before it became an estate, the land was an actual potato field. The houses in potato row were built in the 1870s and 1880s by the Workers Building Association to provide cheap housing to working people. Originally, each 3-story house was shared by two to three families, with each family occupying one floor. From the early- to mid-1900s, the potato rows housed an average of eight people per dwelling. By the 1970s, the city was determined to get rid of the potato row houses and build a highway through the land and over adjacent lakes. However, the residents fought back and, together with local authorities, agreed to renovate the houses from top to bottom. Despite being built to serve the working class, potato row is today one of the most expensive and sought-after neighborhoods in Copenhagen.