It has been Incredibly Cold, Absolutely Beautiful for a few days, and as I slip and slide every morning on sidewalks layered thick with ice, I wonder why my friends think we have heated sidewalks everywhere in Sweden. Yes, in Gamla Stan I did touch a statue, free of snow and heated by water….but where might these sidewalks that terrorize the innocent snow be? I couch researched while at home with bronchitis (what else would you do?).
First some terminology clarification is needed as my general observation is that people may misuse the word Scandinavia when really talking about the Nordic countries, and often Scandinavia is confused with being just Sweden.
Scandinavia vs Nordic Country
According to Wikipedia, the term Scandinavia relates more to an historical and cultural-linguistic region, whereas the term Nordic country is more accurate because “The Nordic countries make up a region in Northern Europe and the North Atlantic which consists of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden and their associated territories, the Faroe Islands, Greenland and Åland. In English, “Scandinavia” is sometimes used as a synonym for the Nordic countries (often excluding Greenland), but that term more properly refers only to Denmark, Norway and Sweden” (source: Wikipedia).
Editor’s update a few days later. I did a bit more research and other sites define Scandinavia as the geographic region that does include Iceland and Finland. U am not sure if there is an official definition…
First of all, it is my own dear Canada that may be implying that Sweden has heated sidewalks everywhere…Unfortunately, I cannot watch the video mentioned below as it is only available in Canada…Perhaps a Canadian reader can let me know what it says about Swedish heated sidewalks? More precisely, where are they?
- I found a Tweet- In Scandinavia, heated sidewalks are common, even in Sweden..Just seen on Canadian TV, dated December 31, 2012. I tracked down the CBC documentary Life Below Zero that prompted the tweet and probably my friend’s questions to me..
- In an article from 2011 (Sweden’s heated sidewalks should be adopted here, too), written for The Montreal Gazette, the title turned out to be misleading. In the article, Swedes and Scandinavia are mentioned, but Oslo is the only city that was cited as having these sidewalks. This made me think that the terminology is confusing people.
Norway: In Oslo and Trondheim (because they have lots of oil money)
- Oslo is mentioned in the Montreal Gazette article, and a 2007 article in Condé Nast’s Traveler magazine.
- Trondheim is cited in a report compiled by the city of Anchorage, Alaska (see page 104 of their PDF).
Iceland: In Reykajavik (because they have a rumbly boiling hot volcano)
- In an About.com article 10 Fun Facts about Scanadinavia mentions the use of geothermal energy
- Iceland on the Web discusses geothermal energy and says “in the wintertime, some sidewalks in Reykjavík and Akureyri are heated”
Sweden: Gothenburg (Göteborg) and Luleå
- Downtown in the tourist/business district of Gothenburg/Göteborg and another blog post from 2006. Also someone on Flicker has a photo
- I have a note to myself that Luleå (which is in the far north of Sweden) has them. This makes sense although I cannot find the reference
- According to this Canadian blog Part of the downtown appeal is the shopping. Nordiska Kompaniet, their version of Hougen’s, is a lovely old department store just up the street from the skating rink. While NK, as it is known, shockingly does not stock cross-country ski gear (unlike Hougen’s) it does have heated sidewalks.
- Some guy took an Instagram of a sidewalk heating being installed in front of the Grand Hotel Stockholm. Unknown date, Nov 3 maybe 2012.
Next Slippery Steps
So why on earth did I research and write all of this and not go and find these darn sidewalks? Do not fear, dear reader, I plan to put on my YakTrax and go searching for evidence in Stockholm. Stay tuned.
One last note…instead of heated sidewalks, we have Snow Pushers
Even though there may not be too many heated sidewalks around Stockholm, there is another niche industry during the snow and ice wars where brave people clamber up onto the steep and slippery roofs in Stockholm to push the snow off. I can hear the whistles all day long from my office, it is how the guy on the ground communicates with the roof guys. See this excellent blog post with photos showing our unheated sidewalks and all the work that takes snow away from the roof instead.
- Sweden braces for ‘deep freeze’ in February (thelocal.se)