Norway - Karl Johan Street
( Originally Published 1907 )
Karl Johan Street, west-northwest to the Royal Palace
DirectionóWest-northwest up the street. SurroundingsóShops and office buildings, the best in town.
This street reaches off behind us down beyond the market square which we have just visited. Notice the trolley cars and the tall electric light polesóChristiania keeps well up with the times in all these modern improvements. The best equipped and most fashionable shops are mostly on this street and all the most important people in town use this thorough-fare. That farther building at the south (left) side of the street is the Parliament House ; the University is not in sight, but its buildings are only a short distance ahead and at our right (northwest) beyond those business-blocks with the awnings. That stately, pillared portico in the distance, which gives the street-vista its dignified climax, is the entrance to King Haakon's palace.
The name of this fine thoroughfare is in itself a reminder of the period (1814-1905) when Norway owed allegiance to sovereigns of the Bernadotte line. H. M. Karl Johan (Karl XIV), for whom it was named, was the first sovereign of that dynasty, king of both Norway and Sweden.
If you were to enter the shop of one of the book-sellers in this neighborhood, you would find on the shelves not only the works of Norwegian and Danish authors (the written language of Norway and that of Denmark are almost the same, though pronunciation and local idioms vary), but also a great many books by German, French, British and American writers. Well educated people here know Shakespeare, Goethe and Schiller as well as if they were Germans or Britons; many read them in the original, others in translation. Foreign novelists and con-temporary writers on political and social problems are popular. The humor of Mark Twain appeals strongly to the Norse people; he has a great many readers here.
The post-office is only five or six minutes' walk from here on a street corner near the market. It is a busy place, for the clerks handle not only the city mail but a great deal which is distributed for for-warding to all parts of the kingdom. The domestic letter rate is 10 ore (about 23A. cents) for a half-ounce, and even at this rather high figure the volume of correspondence has doubled in ten years' time.
Another interesting and even more beautiful outlook over this central part of the town can be had if we go down a short distance nearer the harbor at our left (south). Be sure to consult the map again for the sixth outlook, very near the one last taken. Observe that the red lines include part of the same ground as before.