THE HISTORY OF NORDHAVNEN
The inner part of Nordhavnen (Århusgade, Redmolen and Sundmolen) only appeared at the end of the 19th century, when, like so many other areas on the Copenhagen waterfront, it was reclaimed to satisfy the needs of a growing harbour industry and an increase in shipping traffic.
On old maps you can see how the area has grown through the last 150 years due to fillings.
At the middle of the 19th century there were a number of small, local ports along the coast north of Copenhagen. Actual harbour activities still took place inside of Toldbodbommen, it was not until the last decades of the 19th century that the Port of Copenhagen grew north and gradually claimed some of the areas that are now to be urban developed.
The present Nordbassin (: North Dock) and the small harbour basin Redhavn (which is filled today) were constructed between 1885 and 1890. The name "Redhavnen" (: Roadstead Harbour) is due to the harbour originally functioning as a supply port for the ships lying in Rheden (: The Roadstead) – that is, the ships that did not moor alongside the quay but anchored outside the harbour, either because they were waiting for free mooring space, or because they took in supplies.
In the years 1891 – 1984 the first phase of Frihavnen (: the Free Port) took place. Building Frihavnen was motivated by the German decision to construct a canal between Kiel and the Elbe. The idea of the Kiel Canal was to connect Hamburg with the Baltic Sea, thus making Hamburg highly competitive with Copenhagen when it came to facilitating the transit trade in the Baltic region. Therefore, the idea behind the Free Port was to keep especially the transit trade in spite of intensifying competition, since duties were not imposed on goods. At the same time the port was equipped with modern buildings, cranes, etc.
The first free port area was established south of the present Indre Nordhavn (: Inner North Harbour), but already in the years before, during and after World War 1 the area was considerably expanded. Nordbassinet, Redmolen and Sundmolen (: the Sound Pier) were all built in the years 1915 – 1918 and included in the Free Port except for the small Redhavn, which was a duty pocket in the duty-free pocket. Until 1931 a whole series of land fillings took place, which form the area we know today. The Redhavn basin, though, has since been filled and included in the Free Port.
During the years, Nordhavnen has been the home of many well-known firms, such as Nordisk Film (: Nordic Film) with laboratories at what would later be known as Billedvej. Riffelsyndikatet (: the Rifle Syndicate), the later Dansk Industri Syndikat, is, however, the firm that has left really significant marks on the area, among others the pentagonal red-brick building at the western end of Århusgade. During World War 2 this building was sabotaged because the firm produced weapons for the German army.