Transcript for the stop The Hip Square
The statue here on the middle of this square is of course a socialist symbol. We see the burden of society, this huge stone with factories on it, carried on the shoulders of the workers. The actual carrying is mainly by the male workers, since the statue is from 1930, even though almost half of all the factory workers were women, but you get the picture. This statue sits very well here, since this entire area was built for factory workers. A socialist hotspot.
The factories making up this burden, came in different kinds; textile factory, soap factory, chocolate factory. Above all we had a wharf that built ships, especially oil tankers. And boy did that go well. Around the 60s, thanks to the oil tankers, Malmö was both socialist heaven and had a stronger economy than Sweden at large. This when Sweden was well on its way to become the richest country on earth, which happened in 1974. It was the first country over 1 million people to overtake the USA in income since WWII. Today Norway is the richest, but Sweden is still high up.
As far as we remember anything, the 60ies is remembered as a golen area for both Malmö and Sweden, known as the Record Years. And that success story is still evident in the mindset of Swedes. If you talk to locals, they won’t say Sweden is the best. You can’t show off, remember? But poorly concealed smugness creeps in anyway. Why doesn’t others follow our great example in things we do well. Why doesn’t Britain build better houses? Why doesn’t USA have social security? Why doesn’t Japan work shorter hours? Why doesn’t Denmark have better animal protection? And why doesn’t Norway …. Actually don’t mention Norway.
So after a long time of fighting against power, Malmö now found itself kind of in power. How does the self proclaimed underdog deal with that? It turned out we didn’t have to deal with it. In the 70s this thing called the oil crisis happened, where oil prices went sky high and consumption went way down. If you’re producing oil tankers, this is bad. The industry went completely bust, all the jobs went away, and Malmö became a true dump. Again. After that there was nothing to do in Malmö. We had a saying, that the best thing about Malmö, is Copenhagen! The underdog position was back. As the jobs left Malmö, 20 % of the people as well. Many areas became slums, empty of people. Here especially; you were not supposed to visit this square after dark!
Today, it’s here you are supposed to go after dark! There are pubs, restaurants and clubs all over. This area changed a lot. Much due to the immigrants that came to Sweden. They started their exotic little shops, here were it was cheap, and suddenly this square had gone from being half deserted, to a hub of interesting and hip stuff. On this square we have restaurants like China Garden and Möllan Curry, the arab goldsmith Belal’s Gold, Baghdad Market, and on another location in Malmö we even have one Jihad Driving School. I think it maybe was started by a guy named Jihad, but at any rate it’s an unsentimental name.
Malmö embraces its multicultural population. There are about 170 nationalities in Malmö, and there are even some people who are trying to get one person from each of the missing 20 or so country to move here. It’s an alternative to playing Pokemon I suppose, gotta’ get them all! Immigration is of course a contentious political issue in Sweden, just as the rest of Europe lately. Malmö is very political here as well, as Malmö often is, even though Malmö has also asked for other parts of Sweden to start the new arrivals in the future.
Overall, renewal of different kinds has happened all over Malmö. There is for example fine culture in town now, with several art halls, an opera, a concert hall. At the same time Malmö is a big place for skateboarding and a hub for computer game development. Most of the legacy of the 80s is gone, but there is still some left. Unemployment is quite high and the town is today the poorest in Sweden. Another legacy is a media image of Malmö as a rough place, and there are indeed some smaller difference in crime statistics compared to the rest of Sweden. Lately though, this was picked up by some foreign media, pushing to brand Malmö as extremely dangerous. That is simply false. On an international scale Malmö is safer than the European average, the USA has crime rates more than double that of Malmö, with the rough cities in the US climbing to 30 times as high. Well, among all problems Malmö has faced, caring about largely false image problems would be far too sentimental. The renewal is well under way, and today Malmö reports the happiest people in Sweden.