Youngstorget Square

Denne artikkelen omtaler et sted

Åpne i Oslo bykart
Market at Youngstorget Square in Kristiania ca.1890. Photo: Ukjent / Riksarkivet

Youngstorget Square, Sentrum, St. Hanshaugen district, is bordered by Pløens gate, Eva Kolstads gate, Møllergata, Youngs gate and the Folketeater quarter, and is intersected by Torggata. It was named in 1951 after the merchant Jørgen Young, who owned the area where the square was laid out in 1846. Its official name between 1852 and 1951 was Nytorvet

Youngstorget was intended to be a market square for agricultural products, but for a long time it was mainly used for cattle markets. When the so-called ‘Stalls Traffic’ during the Christiania Market was moved to Youngstorget from Stortorvet in the 1850s, marketing traffic became more lively. From the 1860s to the 1880s, particularly leading up to Christmas, there was hectic and colourful trading on the square. In 1880, the gas lamp Fiat Lux! was put up on Youngstorget. At that time, there were many restaurants in the vicinity. On one of the corners, a German by the name of Petri had a café that was dubbed ‘Peter’s Church’. During the bazaars at Pløensbakken there were four restaurants, and on the southeast long side of the square lay The Bazaar Halls, with the beer hall Bazarhallen under street level. In the 1930s, the Bazar Hall complex was demolished to make way for the Folketeater building. On the top floor, with its panorama windows, there was for a long time the non-alcoholic restaurant Stratos, which has now reopened as a conventional restaurant.

In the Folketeater building (Youngstorget 2) the Norwegian Labour Party has offices, and its newspaper Arbeiderbladet operated from here in 1934-88. Along with the headquarters of the Norwegian Federation of Trade Unions, Folkets hus, on the northeast side of the square, this helps to give the square a feeling of being the ‘parlour’ of the labour movement. Over the years, many market gatherings and demonstrations had been held here, and on every 1 May, the Oslo TUC’s main event takes place here, with speeches from the arcade under Møllergata. In front of Folkets Hus stands Per Palle Storm’s sculpture Pioneers of the Labour Movement(1955, unveiled 1958). In the block of Youngstorget 1 lies Youngstorget Pharmacy (formerly Rosenkrantz Pharmacy, now Apotek 1) and the Norwegian Party of Progress had offices here before moving to Karl Johans gate. In the Folketeater building, Erling Moe Fish & Game Ltd. formerly had a shop from 1935, first only with meat, but a year later with fish, and from 1946 onwards it was also a delicatessen. The shop, which had an excellent reputation, closed down in 2009. 

The War Years

Bazaar halls at Youngstorget Square ca. 1930. Photo: Wilse, Anders Beer / Oslo Museum

The square that had until then been the ‘parlour’ of the labour movement, was taken over during the war by the Norwegian Nazi Party, NS. From the arcade below Møllergata 19, where TUC leaders and heads of the Labour Party had given speeches, Gulbrand Lunde now railed against ‘Bolshevism and Judaism’ in 1941. The NS trade group organisation moved into Folkets Hus, and the Folketeater building was taken over by the NS newspaper Fritt Folk. The Labour Party newspaper, Arbeiderbladet, was shut down as early as 9 April 1940, men it appeared during the summer for short periods of time. In August 1940, it was permanently closed down, and the NS newspaper Fritt Folk took over the editorial and production facilities. In the basement, ‘Orpo’ (Ordnungspolizei) had a liquor and tobacco store. Nytorvet 3 was a four-storey block of flats from the end of the 19th century which stood next to the Folketeater building on the corner of Pløens gate, considerably altered, with a ‘modernised’ facade, and now replaced by a more suitable building. Here the home front man Arvid Hansen, an electrician, lived on the first floor, together with his parents. On 13 February 1945, the flat was stormed by Norwegian and German police. In addition to Arvid Hansen himself were his father and mother and his fiancée, Nelly Minge. His father, Harald Hansen, was shot and killed, while Arvid Hansen was first shot in the leg, but managed to return fire and shot and killed one of the intruders as well as wounding several others before being killed. Nelly Minge was taken to Aker hospital, wounded in the leg, but survived. She remained at the hospital under the war was over. Mrs Hansen lay semi-conscious on the bedroom floor and was later taken to Sweden. On 26 June, the two who had been killed were cremated at Vestre Krematorium.

Photo: Bjoertvedt

On the southwest side of the square, along Eva Kolstads gate, lies ‘Stensbakgården’ (Youngstorget 5) and ‘Venstres hus’ (Møllergata 16). Stensbakgården, named after Petter Stensbak’s hardware shop, established in 1896, which lay on the corner overlooking Torggata from 1924 to 1996. The block of flats was built in 1898 (architect Kr. Rivertz). It has been characterised as a shopping palace with a colourful facade of yellow brick and painted plaster. In burnt down in 1996 and the decision was made to rebuild it. It burnt down a second time, however, on 29 January 1997, and this time burnt out completely – only the outer walls were left standing. The cultural heritage office regarded the building as lost, but the owner chose to rebuild it yet again, with modern interiors behind the old, renovated facade (architect Eivind Eriksen).

At the same time, Stensbak hardware shop moved across the street to Torggata 11.

On the other side of Torggata, on the corner of Pløens gate, lies a three-storey block (no. 4) where ArbeidernesBokogPapirhandel (The Workers’ Book and Stationery Shop) was for many years. In a block that lay here previously, the so-called ‘Lilletinget’ (The Little Assembly) was held in 1851. This was a popular name for the national meeting of delegates for the workers’ associations led by Marcus Thrane. The meeting was popularly called the Little Assembly because it was to deal with political issues during the ongoing session of Stortinget (= the Large Assembly, the name of the Norwegian Parliament). One of The Oslo Society’s blue plaques has been set up here to commemorate this.

In the 1990s, Youngstorget was given a face-lift and re-opened as a square without a thoroughfare in 1996 (architects Bjørbekk & Lindheim). A copy of a fountain was installed on the square in 1880 (moved from the Fire Station at Kirkeristen, where it had stood since 1860). The old one had been dumped in the sea off Oslo harbour in 1942. It was possible to have a copy of it made because there is an identical fountain on the square in Stavanger. Benches were also placed on the square and meals could now be served outdoors. After the refurbishment of the square, a peace monument was erected in the form of a monolith, designed by Hagbart Solløs and with the inscription ‘Peace – Solidarity – Justice. Never again Hiroshima’. The Folketeater building was declared a heritage building during the Cultural Heritage Year of 2009. The square is marked with a The Oslo Society blue plaque on the wall where there is a flight of steps up to the arcade.

Youngstorget bazaar, also called Nytorvet’s bazaar, Youngstorget 6 – a complex of stalls erected for Oslo Municipality in 1876-77 (architect Jacob Nordan). The two-storey building lies between Youngstorget and Møllergata, with a open facade onto the square and with round arches supported on pillars, topped by a balustrade. Behind the facade there is an arcade in front of the stalls. Restored in 1995-96 after a long period of decline, it now contains shops, workshops and restaurants, including the popular outdoor eatery ‘Fyret’. The arcade on the first floor functions as a speaker’s platform for the square. One of The Oslo Society’s blue plaques has been set up here in memory of Nytorvet’s bazaar.