Old Times at Bellevue Beach in Copenhagen

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Bellevue isn’t just any old beach. In 1931, Arne Jacobsen was invited to enter a competition for a bathing area as part of Gentofte Municipality’s overall plan for the area. The beach is 700 meters of sandy shoreline behind which is a small park with trees.

The whole beach, park and surrounding area have played a key role in recent Danish cultural history, and it’s only a5 minutes’ walk from Klampenborg Station near Bakken.

Old Times at Bellevue Beach in Copenhagen
Here an excavator in action at Bellebue. Photo: Sven Gjørling

In the summer of 1932, Bellevue Beach with its changing rooms, lifeguard towers and elegant, metal-sheeted kiosks, opened to paying bathers, designed by Arne Jacobsen, who won the competition. And the beach itself is still one of the most popular in the Copenhagen area.

Old Times at Bellevue Beach in Copenhagen
Summer holiday at the beach. A family enjoying the water. Photo: Sven Hjørling
Old Times at Bellevue Beach in Copenhagen
Bellevue, anno 1938.; People are enjoying a lovely day on the beach of Bellevue north of Copenhagen.

It’s a great choice on really warm days because of the welcoming shade provided by the trees, and Jacobsen has designed everything down the smallest detail. Bellevue Beach was an early example of a consistent branding strategy.

Old Times at Bellevue Beach in Copenhagen
A summer sunday at Bellevue Beach. Two bikini dressed women standing posing in front of the changing tents. Photo: H. G. E. Aue
Old Times at Bellevue Beach in Copenhagen
Bellevue Beach

As soon as the water and sand reach the appropriate temperature, the season’s latest swimsuit fashions are aired at Bellevue, as it did in 1932. The artificial beach was quickly nicknamed ‘the flypaper’ because bathers often were squeezed so closely together.

Old Times at Bellevue Beach in Copenhagen
Bellevue, anno 1938.; People are enjoying a lovely day on the beach of Bellevue.Photo: Sven Gjørling
Old Times at Bellevue Beach in Copenhagen
Bellevue Beach anno 1945. Photo: Unknown

Today, it is not just the Sound’s waves that attract people. Copenhageners have always loved Bellevue Beach. First they flocked to it on the boats that crossed regularly from Copenhagen to Klampenborg, then from 1934 on the newly opened suburban electric railway.

Old Times at Bellevue Beach in Copenhagen
Bellevue Beach 1951: Lines of tents for change of dresses. Photo: Walther Månsson
Old Times at Bellevue Beach in Copenhagen
A hot summer’s day at Bellevue Beach. Photo: Olaf Ibsen

The two beach-volleyball courts are particularly popular, and now as then  people shelter from the sun under the trees, spread out blankets for picnics and relax with a book.

Old Times at Bellevue Beach in Copenhagen
Bellevue Beach, anno 1938. Summer holiday at the beach. A family enjoying the weather. Father wearing a bathrobe. Photo: Sven Gjørling
Old Times at Bellevue Beach in Copenhagen
A summer sunday at Bellevue Beach. The beach is flypapered with people. Photo: H. G. E. Aue

The sweet life has come within reach of the masses

Old Times at Bellevue Beach in Copenhagen
Bellevue, anno 1938. A young woman in bathing suit. Photo: Sven Gjørling
Old Times at Bellevue Beach in Copenhagen
Denmark, Klampenborg: A hot day on Bellevue beach anno 1952 north of Copenhagen. A young woman reading leaned against a commercial for chewing gum.. Photo: Sven Hjørling
Old Times at Bellevue Beach in Copenhagen
Bellevue, anno 1938. Summer holiday at the beach. Boys playing in the sand. Phitoi: Sven Gjørling
Old Times at Bellevue Beach in Copenhagen
Beach life on Bellevue. Young people are playing with a huge beach ball. Photo: Mogens Amsnæs
Old Times at Bellevue Beach in Copenhagen
On a hot day at Bellevue , the holidaymaker queuing up for hot dogs. Photo: Birthe Melchiors
Old Times at Bellevue Beach in Copenhagen
Bellevue, anno 1938. Father and son playing. Photo: Sven Hjørling

Feature image (on top): Bellevue beach, anno 1938. Photo: Sven Gjørling

Old Times at Bellevue Beach in Copenhagen, written by Tor Kjolberg

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Journalist, PR and marketing consultant Tor Kjolberg has several degrees in marketing management. He started out as a marketing manager in Scandinavian companies and his last engagement before going solo was as director in one of Norway’s largest corporations. Tor realized early on that writing engaging stories was more efficient and far cheaper than paying for ads. He wrote hundreds of articles on products and services offered by the companies he worked for. Thus, he was attuned to the fact that storytelling was his passion.