Friday, August 15, 2008


Borlänge is an industrial town (steel mill and paper mill) just along the border notionally dividing southern and northern Sweden. Along with the physical border it also straddles the line between urban and rural, and not entirely happily so in my opinion; of course, my opinion is colored by having spent my school years there and not particularly fitting in. The town of about 50000 people is large enough to have a serious shopping mall, but too small for the city center to survive in competition with it. Enough people that you don't know everybody around you, but not enough to support any unusual interests or sports. If you want to play in a rock band you're golden; if you want to play in a symphony orchestra, not so much.

"Kupolen" shopping mall.

We went this year to celebrate Midsummer with my parents and siblings (and our new nephew Aiden), and to have everybody who haven't met each other do so. This area of the country really is at its best in early summer, with long, dim evenings and the smell of new growth in the air. And we did have fun - lots of people to meet and great weather. As ususal, seeing things through Ritsuko's eyes made everything sort of new and interesting again. A few pictures below; more at the Flickr set. Basically no people pictures as I don't want put up pictures of people I know without explicit permission.

For all of the negatives of the place, there's good aspects to Borlänge as well. Like having meadows and forests right by your front door.

Church Boats
Midsummer is a big holiday, and especially in this area of the country. In Torsång, a traditional rowing event is held every year where people dressed in traditional garb row to church and the (very non-Christian) Midsummer celebration.

Borlänge was the last stop on our journey. A couple of days later we returned home from Borlänge via Arlanda airport (seen here) and Helsinki - a breezy 22 hours door to door.


MTC said...

Thanks for sharing a little piece of your past.

Not a bad place to grow up in, on the whole.

Claes Johansson said...

I spent almost three of my student years in Borlänge while fleeing citylife. It was really nice seeing photos from Torsång again as we did a development project in tourism for the village's local community.

Borlänge as well as Torsång demonstrates a huge contrast from the options of living in a metropol city, but at the same time encourages a slower life. As an adult I can see the positive aspects, but I wouldn't have wanted to be in your shoes growing up there.

The mall "Kupolen" serve the entire region, not just Borlänge as the city is its central transport junction and thus a pitstop for tourists traveling to the northern ski resorts. Central Borlänge has nightlife and restaurants as well as the peace-and-love festival.


Janne Morén said...

Thanks, both of you, for the comments.

I did survive growing up there and managed to get away without permanent scars so in that sense it certainly was not too bad. But I am happy I did get away.

While I'm sure Kupolen is serving the entire region, it has also visibly changed central Borlänge for the worse. When I was living there, there were a lot more shops and more people around than now. It has made the town less attractive to me than it used to be (not to say it was notably attractive to me in the first place of course).

Claes Johansson said...

I agree with you about the old centre fading away, the problem is obvious though I've only lived there "post-Kupol" so to speak. I believe the centre still has *some* strong qualities to build upon... though I suspect there's no complete remedy.

To me Borlänge is in a sence a very Swedish example of a small town-issue usually associated with rural USA. To worsen it the centre is cut off from Kupolen by the intersection of rail and road while Falun the neighboring town (and residential town) has replaced a lot of Borlänges city life.

As a geographer it's an interesting and rare study of urban location specialization. That said I am rather detached to the issue.

Anonymous said...

I grew up in Borlänge and lived there until 1989. Since 2003 I´m back, now living in another part ot town. I lived in central Stockholm most of the years I was gone. Bit by bit my wife and I got tired, bored and fed up with the Big City Life and we ended up in Blge again (well, for my wife it was the first time living there). Not many (or any) other options really existed. Big Family nearby is better than Big City I believe!

I think you can find ugly places and buildings in each end every city all over the world, like Hotel Brage and Dagnyhusen in Blge. The thing is to focus on the beautiful things instead, many captured by you at Flickr. And you do not really need to spend your time at Kupolen if you really don´t want to go there... In our family it is only the young daughter that really likes being there. It´s a shopping mall, that´s all.

And as I recall, the most interesting place in the city (pre-Kupolen) anyway (perhaps beside the stores that carried arcade games ... or Blids Data if you remember it...) was the city library... and it´s still there, pretty much untouched, same smell and everything... still the same great collecton of Isaac Asimov´s robot novels...

Maybe some of your not so good memories of Blge relates to your feelings of not fitting into school... who liked school anyway... all I remember is playing soccer most of the time! And the Greman lessons of course...

Janne, it would be great to get together for a cup of coffee and bring back some Good memories the next time your back in town!


Anonymous said...

What was it like to grew up in Borlänge ? I heard that it was a dangerous place in the 90ies. Street gangs, drugs, ... is that true ?
Would like to learn more about Borlänge back in the 90ies.


Janne Morén said...

From what I remember it was mostly just boring. I mean, there was a fair amount of small-scale crime such as drunken brawls, theft, vandalism and so on, but it never felt dangerous or worrying to me. Of course, I didn't have anything else to compare to.

Just boring, really.