A photo of Austurstræti, one of Reykjavík’s oldest streets, taken at Christmas in the mid- to late 1950s. The cars on the right are parked where the Hótel Ísland used to stand. When it opened in 1882 it was only the fifth hotel ever built in Reykjavík. (The first one opened in 1853 and closed ten years later.) In 1944, Hótel Ísland was destroyed in a fire. In the sixties the parking lot that replaced it became a gathering place for the city’s youth, and got a particularly hard-to-translate nickname, Hallærisplanið. (“Uncool Square” and “Insufficiency Park” come close, but not really). In the mid-nineties the city built a new square called Ingólfstorg to replace what were by then parking lots on both sides of the street. It’s still popular with young people (skaters have replaced punks and hipsters). It’s a place for concerts and other events in summer and in winter it has occasionally been turned into a skating rink.
Photo: Óskar Gíslason