History of Gothenburg

In the 16th and 17th century, the configuration of Sweden's borders made Gothenburg strategically important as the Swedish gateway to the west, lying on the west coast in the narrow area between the territories of Denmark–Norway. After several failed attempts, Gothenburg was successfully founded in 1621 by King Gustavus Adolphus (Gustaf II Adolf). The site of the first church built in Gothenburg, subsequently destroyed by Dutch invaders, is marked by a stone near the north end of the Älvsborg Bridge in Färjenäs park. The church was built in 1603 and destroyed in 1611. The city was heavily influenced by the Dutch and Dutch city planners were contracted to build the city as they had the skills needed to build in the marshy areas around the city. The town was designed like Dutch cities such as Amsterdam. The plan of the streets and canals of Gothenburg closely resembles that of Jakarta, which was built by the Dutch around the same time. The Dutchmen initially won political power and it was not until 1652, when the last Dutch politician in the city's council died, that the Swedes acquired political power over Gothenburg. During the Dutch period the town followed Dutch town laws and there were propositions to make Dutch the official language in the town. Heavy city walls were built during the 17th century. These city walls were torn down after about 1810, because the development of cannons made such walls less valuable as a defence.

Along with the Dutch, the town also was influenced by Scots who came to settle in Gothenburg. Many became people of high profile. William Chalmers was the son of a Scottish immigrant and donated his fortunes to set up what later became Chalmers University of Technology. In 1841 the Scotsman Alexander Keiller founded the Götaverken shipbuilding company that still exists today. His son James Keiller donated Keiller Park to the city in 1906. The Scottish influence can still be felt in Gothenburg in the present-day with names like Glenn