Saturday, May 21

Oslo has just over 3,000 street names. It’s time to clean up.

  • Stein Erik Kirkebøen


Why has Edvard Munch not got a street named after him in Oslo, writes the columnist.

Who the hell was Professor Dahl? And why hasn’t Edvard Munch got a stately street named after him?

This is a debate post. Opinions in the text are at the writer’s expense.

Oslo’s street names have finally become a hot topic. This autumn, author and communications consultant Erlend Tidemann came up with fat, learned «The story behind Oslo street names ». In February, one is notified Book about women who have had streets named after them and about women who should have had streets named after them. On Sunday 9 January, Aftenposten had a big article about new street names.

During the winter, the project also comes “Gata of” which will present all of Oslo’s 3000 streets in image and text on many platforms.

It’s a good excuse to put street names on the agenda.

Funny priority

Sometimes someone does. It is not long since a timely spotlight was put on the fact that there are far too few women on the city’s street signs. There are, but there are also many other strange things on these signs. Maybe it would have been time for a review of the more than 3,000 street names in Oslo?

Maybe some of the legacy donors from the 18th and 19th centuries should be replaced by newer people of both sexes who have really earned a street name?

There are far too few women on the city’s street signs, but there are also many other strange things on these signs

Should street names like Amtmann Meinichs gate live on? A little unsure who he was? In the 19th century, Hans Thomas Meinich was county governor, «state administrator», in what were then called Hordaland and Oppland. He sat in the Storting for a year. Probably a big man there and then. But what is he here and now? He was neither born nor died here in the city. Does he have something to do on a street sign in Oslo 2021?

His brother Jørgen Meinich, on the other hand, lived on Bjølsen farm. He started in 1865 the country’s second wood grinding mill on Bjølsen and was also mayor of Aker. But no street is named after him. Funny priority.

Stein Erik Kirkebøen is a street boy and street enthusiast.

Worth a discussion

Is it possible to do something with street names that have expired, or are they worthy of preservation as a reminder of a time that has passed? Does a street name have historical value?

I do not know, but it might be worth a discussion?

In recent times, perhaps not all local politicians and leaders of welfare associations have deserved to have a street named after them? Maybe there should be room for someone new? Or is it too much trouble?

Professor who?

Something that is no point in discussing is that Professor Dahls gate should be given a new name. Professor Dahl, what does that say? Very little. I do not know how many Professor Dahl there have been in this country. But there are some, even though right now there is supposedly only one at the University of Oslo. The street is not named after everyone. It just seems that way. It is named after one very specific professor.

It is possible it was obvious when the street in 1879 got the name it was named after, but today it is impossible to know which Dahl is honored.

The street at Majorstuen was named after a professor at the academy in Dresden. It is named after Johan Christian Dahl. There may still be no bells ringing, but on a daily basis he was known as IC Dahl. “The founder of the national art of painting”, it is written. The first Norwegian painter to break through internationally.

He became a star in Europe before Edvard Munch. And certainly deserves a street in Oslo. But it must be named so that everyone understands who it is named after. Replace “professor” with “IC”, then it makes sense. It does not always take that much.

Edvard Munchs alley

And, while we are talking about painters, why has the Norwegian world star Edvard Munch not got a stately street in the center of the city? He has named a road on Karihaugen. There are painter names on many roads there and in a place that looks like a street down by the museum that we all have opinions about.

It was of course stupid that the main street in the new area Bjørvika was named after a North German little king’s daughter, whom “no one” had heard of before the street name came, just because she got married well.

The street should have been named Edvard Munch’s avenue. It’s late, but it’s never too late.

The names of the people were adopted

And then there was Vestkanttorvet. Do you know what it’s called? Not at all what everyone calls it.

It’s called Amaldus Nielsen’s place. Amaldus was also a painter. Sure good, but he never broke through in Europe. But the square at Majorstuen got its name in 1934. Before that, by the way, it was called Professor Dahls Plads. But it has been popularly known ever since it was developed as a square for fruit and vegetable trade in 1916, Vestkanttorvet.

Can’t it be the official name?

If that happens, history will repeat itself. One hundred years after Nytorvet was laid out, the name had expired. Besides, no one used it. Everyone called the square Youngstorget after he who owned the loop it was on. And in 1952 the name of the people was adopted and officially. It’s possible.

Vestkanttorvet is called Amaldus Nielsen’s place.

That’s enough to grab

In the 19th century, Christiania exploded. The population increased by something like 1600 percent in one hundred years. It was built enormously. Streets were laid out, lots of streets. They should have names. The threshold for having a street named after him has never been as low as in the latter half of the 19th century. But if a street is given a name, it hangs. Too many streets in Oslo are named after mediocrities from the 19th century.

Maybe time to clean up?

A lot of strange things have happened later as well. At Grefsen, a road in 1955 was named Haakon Aunes vei. According to the city encyclopedia, he was a surveying assistant. That’s what it says. Is it enough to get a small road named after him? A little basic research shows that he was also central to Velet and one of those who realized Velhuset, best known as Svetter’n. And then maybe it’s okay?

Or is it time to clean up? It is enough to grab for the one who has the strength.

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