In his blog, Všsterbottens-Kuriren’s political editor Ola Nordebo asks if UmeŚ has any suburbs.
My immediate answer is: No, UmeŚ cannot have any suburbs because the town itself has the feeling of being a suburb. When I go to central UmeŚ, I always have – and always have had – the feeling of visiting a suburban shopping centre while the real centre is somewhere else. I can’t say where exactly, but one of my colleagues recently put this note on his whiteboard:
Gone to Sundsvall. The only place in Norrland that doesn’t look like a village.
Size, of cause, plays a role. UmeŚ proper only has some 75.000 inhabitants1 and there are limits to how much action you can squeeze out of a place like that. And it really is too small to sustain suburbs in the true meaning of the word.
On the other hand, I’m still left with the impression that UmeŚ is stuck somewhere between the small town it used to be forty years ago and the city it wants to be. It has lost the Norrlandish charm but not really gained a true identity.
Oh, and speaking of suburbs: When I have the choice, I’d much rather go shopping in Kongens Lyngby north of Copenhagen than in UmeŚ. Lyngby is a true suburb, but even that can be a bit lacking in the charm department. At least on a Sunday.
- Sundsvall clocks in at a measly 50.000, in case you wonder [↩]