Laura Bliss is CityLab’s West Coast bureau chief. She also writes MapLab, a biweekly newsletter about maps (subscribe here). Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Atlantic, Sierra, GOOD, Los Angeles, and elsewhere, including in the book The Future of Transportation.
The Swedish city of Malmö says it is doing just fine on its own, thanks.
Re-branding a neighborhood is never without difficulties, even in peace-loving Scandinavia. As the Guardian reported earlier today, the Swedish region of Skåne, just a bridge-ride away from Copenhagen, might be getting a new name: Greater Copenhagen. If the Danish get their way.
Frank Jensen, mayor of Copenhagen, is hoping that extending the name to Skåne, as well to Zealand, the island on which Copenhagen is built, will encourage investment and growth in the entire region, creating a stronger international brand.
"Greater Copenhagen" seems like it might be the next step in a natural progression towards economic unity. There's already a bridge—the Öresund in Swedish, Øresund in Danish—that connects Zealand to Skåne. It opened in 2000 with the intention of stimulating regional growth. By some accounts, it made Malmö a pseudo-suburb of Copenhagen.
But major cultural differences still exist between the bordering areas. Skåne includes Malmö: a city that's lesser-known than Copenhagen on a global stage, but still plenty large (Sweden's third largest) and with its own distinct laws, history, and personality: It's less expensive, less corporate, more youthful feeling. Malmö's mayor has said she's not prepared to let her city be subsumed in name by Copenhagen.
Olof Bortz, a Swedish PhD student who has lived in Malmö, says that being dubbed "Greater Copenhagen" would mean very little to most people who live in Malmö. "I would see it as B.S.," he says. "The people who live there don't need any new kind of designation. It wouldn't be for their benefit."
No—but city rebranding very rarely is. Nor does it always play out the way business interests hope.
Top image courtesy of Flickr user aramzs.