Once upon a time in Denmark

Not a city, not a town - once, though, a village - Hundige's claim to fame is, today, a reputation for being a place of unrest and gang-related violence. It wasn't always like that, though; it used to be a nice spot in the countryside until it was swallowed up by the ever expanding Greater Copenhagen, and became a troubled suburb in Greve Kommune.

Located some 25 km to the south-west of Copenhagen, close to the coast with nice beaches and a marina, Hundige is still a nice place, as long as you stay away from certain areas at certain times of day. (And if you avoid looking like this, and walking like that, and yadda yadda...) I suppose what I am trying to say is that, bad reputation or no, Hundige is not much different from many other rapidly expanding, underfunded suburbs anywhere. But again: it wasn't always like that, and, old sentimentalist that I am, I miss the old Hundige where I grew up.

The name Hundige (originally Honedige, from 1376), may be a combination of "hun" (ridge) and "dige" (ditch). Seems reasonably enough, since there is an abundance of moraines in Denmark, and Hundige looks to be located roughly on top of one. The reason for it being where it is, is probably tied to the fact that people travelling from Køge in the south to Copenhagen travelled along the coastline. Køge and Copenhagen are situated on the south and north end, respectively, of Køge Bugt: a fairly sheltered bay on the eastern side of Sealand. Going between Køge and Copenhagen along the coast will, still, take you right past Hundige - and a number of similar small places, most of which have fared slightly better than Hundige. Nowadays the S-train and the motorways from Copenhagen to Køge still run right through Hundige, keeping it on the map.

In 1968, when I moved there, Hundige, balancing almost on the line between Greve Kommune and Ishøj Kommune, was a small hamlet comprising a main street with nice houses and a small convenience store (Købmand Weng, I remember its name was), some smaller streets, and even a vicarage. It was surrounded by fields of wheat and barley, farms with cows and horses, and some newly built residential areas with bungalows. There was one school, maybe a kilometer from our house, and that was about it. There were busses going through the Hundige area from Køge to Valby, but the train didn't come along until 1976, so before then, unless you owned a car, you were in for long and tedious bus-rides if you wanted to go anywhere interesting.

In 1972 the large motorway, called Køge Bugt motorvej was opened for the public. This took a lot of the pressure off of the old coastal road, Strandvejen, which today has been narrowed down to one lane in each direction, with lots of roundabouts to get the traffic flowing while keeping the speed down.

But as it became easier to get to and from Hundige, the area grew at an explosive rate: business areas and residential areas were plopped down, seemingly at random on the corn fields around Hundige. Large apartment complexes were erected, some prettier than others, and a large department store/supermarket, Bilka (from German: BILlig KAufen) was built in the middle of nowhere - later to be connected with the S-train station via a very large shopping mall (someone had been doing their homework, that's for sure).

The little hamlet that was Hundige from the beginning was swallowed up. Also the farms were gone, large roads had been built to take cars past the town instead of through it, new bungalows shot up like mushrooms making the outline of the town disappear until it was no more; just a street winding along among a lot of houses.

It was a good place to grow up. Also for both of my kids, who lived in the same apartment until they were 18 and 20, resp. And though we lived in one of the areas that has since then become a name to appear on the front pages when there's shootings and trouble in Hundige, we liked it there. Now we are scattered around; only the kids' father still lives near Hundige, so we do go back to the area, now and then. But my Hundige is long gone.

Sources: Den Store Danske, this map, and 32 years of living there.

Incidentally: I never mention the size of the population of Hundige. This is due to the fact that Hundige, today, is a very loosely defined area, part of Greve Kommune. Also, ironically, the photo I have been able to find on Wikipedia does not show the village, Hundige By, at all. But it does show the apartment blocks where my kids grew up. The village itself is/was just to the right of the upper right corner. Heh.

Disclaimer: there are a lot of political and other facts I have omitted here. That is because I don't think they're important in this context. I might mention it at some other point.

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.