Port of Gothenburg 400th anniversary celebrations marked by optimism and anticipation 

Members Corner

Source: Port of Gothenburg, 2020-06-22

Exactly 400 years ago, in 1620, Stora Hamnkanalen, the canal in what is now the centre of Gothenburg, was created. It was also the year when the Port of Gothenburg came into being. To celebrate this momentous occasion – although on a more modest scale in the light of the prevailing Covid-19 situation – employees and guests gathered at the historic Amerikaskjulet building at Stigbergskajen, which is where Gothenburg Port Authority now has its head office.

“The Port of Gothenburg has an incredible history and is of undeniable importance to Sweden. It is thanks to our port that Sweden has developed into the trading nation we are today. We may not be very prominent on the map, but our export industry and innovations are recognised and respected in every corner of the world. This would not have been possible without the Port of Gothenburg and that is why we are celebrating today, and why we will continue to do so throughout the year,” said Elvir Dzanic, Gothenburg Port Authority chief executive.

During the ceremony, which included speeches by Harbour Master Åsa Kärnebro and CEO Elvir Dzanic, a stand was uncovered revealing a royal decree issued by King Gustavus Adolphus on 6 October 1619. In it he instructed his chief architects, Joost van Werdt and Johan Arendz, to commence planning the city and the port.

In 1620, work began on an ambitious project to create Stora Hamnkanalen, the canal that passes through Brunnsparken in the very heart of Gothenburg. This was where port operations began and just a year later the area was officially named Gothenburg.

From canal-side loading point to major international port

Since then, the milestones and events have come in quick succession. It was here that the Swedish East India Company and its voyages to Asia during the 18th century led the way as Gothenburg became the trading centre of northern Europe. It was here that hundreds of thousands of Swedes emigrated to the USA during the 19th century. And it was here that large-scale investment and expansion during the 20th century helped transform the Port of Gothenburg into a major international port.

“The port has grown and developed, particularly westwards, buoyed by a stream of Swedish export success stories and the ever-growing number and size of the ships,” said Port of Gothenburg Harbour Master Åsa Kärnebro.

“The world has changed immensely over the past 400 years and it is thanks to the fact that we have succeeded in keeping pace with this extraordinary transition that we are still the largest port in Scandinavia and in many ways better equipped than ever.”

Same function – but with climate at the forefront

The port has essentially the same function and offers the same assurances that it did 400 years ago – to act as the gateway to the world and ensure industry has access to a global market. This was the case in the past, it is definitely the case today, and it will continue to be so in the future.

“In a way this celebration is the beginning of the next chapter in the port’s history. We intend to be here for at least another 400 years and our task ahead is to ensure the foundation is laid and the conditions are set to assure our future. Fundamental to this ambition is that our planet continues to be habitable and in the light of this our most important aim as a port is to reduce carbon emissions. Our target is to cut carbon emissions by 70% within all port operations through to 2030,” said Elvir Dzanic.

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