Nyhavn was constructed by King Christian V from 1670 to 1673, dug by Swedish war prisoners from the Dano-Swedish War 1658–1660. It is a gateway from the sea to the old inner city at Kongens Nytorv (King’s Square), where ships handled cargo and fishermens’ catch. It was notorious for beer, sailors, and prostitution. Danish author Hans Christian Andersen lived at Nyhavn for some 18 years.
The first bridge across Nyhavn opened on 6 February 1875. It was a temporary wooden footbridge. It was replaced by the current bridge in 1912.
As ocean-going ships grew larger, Nyhavn was taken over by internal Danish small vessel freight traffic. After World War II land transport took over this role and small vessel traffic disappeared from the Port of Copenhagen, leaving Nyhavn largely deserted of ships.
In the mid-1960s, the Nyhavn Society (Danish: Nyhavnsforeningen) was founded with the aim of revitalising Nyhavn. In 1977, Nyhavn was inaugurated as a veteran ship and museum harbour by Overborgmester i København (Copenhagen’s Lord Mayor) Egon Weidekamp.
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