The Environment and Transport Division of Reykjavík City has approved changes to traffic in the city center to increase pedestrian safety; in parts of the capital’s three oldest streets, Adalstraeti, Vesturgata and Hafnarstraeti, driving traffic will be limited.
From Ingólfstorg square in downtown Reykjavík. Photo by Páll Stefánsson.
There are also ideas of closing parts of Hafnarstraeti completely—making it a pedestrian zone—at least for special occasions. These ideas are related to planned changes of Ingólfstorg square, where a new hotel will be constructed, Morgunbladid reports.
Chairman of Reykjavík City’s urban planning council, Júlíus Vífill Ingvarsson, explained that in addition to the hotel, two timber houses, which currently stand on Vallarstraeti, will be relocated to the square, crowding it, and closing Hafnarstraeti would therefore create more space.
If parts of Hafnarstraeti are made into a pedestrian zone, the history of Reykjavík will reach a turning point. In Páll Líndal’s book, Reykjavík, sögustadur vid Sund, it says that for ages, Hafnarstraeti was the main street into the capital.
At the turn of the 19th century, shops and warehouses were constructed along Hafnarstraeti, which for many years was Reykjavík’s main shopping street. Around 1920, the street lost that status, but became instead a place for restaurants and pubs.