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LARS LÖNNINGE
Many Swedish photographers have tried their luck in New York, Lars Lönninge (above) is one of the few who has succeeded. Many of the pictures you may remember from Saab, Seiko, Kosta Boda and Coca Cola ads are his creations. The spectacular photo of the Statue of Liberty draped in a Swedish flag (on the cover) that heralded the New Sweden 1988 celebration was another Lönninge production, this one requiring considerable creativity to produce the image.

“I don’t take pictures I make them,” says Lars Lönninge in his slightly southern Swedish accent. In his enormous loft near Union Square he can create elaborate and controlled studio shots. His philo-sophy is to build pictures rather than to capture something already existing. He uses his camera to create the image he has in his mind. This is a quality that clients like Pepsi Cola, Absolut Vodka and Citibank appreciate and Lönninge often ends up with a heavy work load. Even then he finds time for his own experimentaion often going back to early methods and photographic equipment.

Lars Lönninge became interested in photography in his late teens and took a year off from school to work as a photo assistant in his hometown of Malmö. After graduation he travelled the world with his Nikon before enrolling in the three-year program in photography at the prestigious Brook Institute in California. He started a studio in Copenhagen but often found himself working in New York where he now lives with his family and where he runs the Lars Lönninge Studio Inc.

THE NEW YORK SKYLINE
would not be what it is if it hadn’t been for David Lindquist. Working for the Otis elevator company, the Swedish-trained engineer developed the gearless-traction elevator that became the standard in all high-rises. Lindquist later introduced an automatic system of self-levelling and the automatic signal control system that made buildings like the Empire State Building possible. Called the “father of the New York skyline”, Lindquist remained modest about his 64 revolutionary patents.

Donald Trump (left) has never remained modest, but for a boy whose grandfather came from Sweden with two empty hands he has taken Manhattan in a way few can ever dream of. His grandfather did eventually own a moderately successful restaurant, but he was also a hard drinker, and he died when Donald’s father was only eleven years old. The father made a fortune building rent-controlled housing in Queens and Brooklyn.

CIRCLE LINE
is the best way to see New York and its five boroughs. The familiar red, white and green boats circle the entire island of Manhattan in three breeze-filled hours complete with amusing running commentary by young guides who are often part-time actors and broadcast announcers (Circle Line Plaza, west end of 42nd Street, 212-563-3200). Few Swedish tourists know that this New York institution is owned by Karl Andrén who also owns the luxury World Yachts (212-630-8100 for brunch, lunch and dinner/ dance to a band that always plays a patriotic medley when you pass under the Statue of Liberty, left). Karl, who emigrated to the United States in 1962, also pioneered specialty liquid transportation and started Windstar Sail Cruises

GROUND ZERO
continues to draw visitors. One of the first was Prime Minister Göran Persson who came not only with condolences, but also a gift consisting of a scientific examination and charting of the ground under the streets surrounding the disaster area. The Swedish Malå Geo Science Ground Penetrating Radar is locating the exact position of subterranean electrical cables, telecommunication cables, water pipes, sewer pipes etc and charting how they have been damaged by the falling World Trade Center buildings in clear three-dimensional pictures without the need for excavations.

This is not the first time Swedes have come to the aid of the USA. In nearby Battery Park (close to a Swedish lime or lind tree planted there to commemorate Jenny Lind’s performance here in 1850) there is a statue of Swedish inventor John Ericsson.

It was Ericsson’s Monitor that saved the Union during the Civil War when it emerged victorious from the first battle ever fought between iron-clad warships. The Monitor had the first revolving gun turret, used on all subsequent warships. Many of Ericsson’s inventions transcended the technology of his time and are now in standard use. His was the first practical steam fireengine, the first practical screw propeller used in two small ships. In 1844 John Ericsson (right) built Princeton, the first metal-hulled, screw-propelled warship that had engines below the waterline for protection. He did extensive work on the use of torpedoes in later years and studied the development of a sun-powered engine and the possible use of tidal energy as a source of power. John Ericsson lived in Manhattan from 1839 until his death 50 years later. His birthday is commemorated next to the statue each year by the local John Ericsson Society (ph. 212-980-9655).

HENNES & MAURITZ
is a retail success in one of the toughest markets in the world. There are already three H&M stores in Manhattan with one to go (above), a block away from Bloomingdales. If you are looking for more avant-garde Swedish fashion design go to Älskling (228 Columbus Ave, 212-787-7066) which is Swedish for “Darling” The store sells the designs of Marika Mäkk, Agneta Eckemyr and owner Vivianne Tvilling. Agneta is the ex-model turned film star turned designer who lives a block away in a penthouse overlooking Central Park. Next door to Älskling is the Face Stockholm (224 Columbus Ave 212-769-1420) natural cosmetics store run by model Martina Arfwidson, and one of the Ordning & Reda (253 Columbus Ave 212-799-0828) stores with environmentally friendly, quality stationary products.

When IKEA founder Ingvar Kamprad opened his Stockholm store he based it on the unique architecture of the Guggenheim Museum. In both structures you wind your-self effortlessly down past the exhibits. For a while IKEA ran a catalogue store in Manhattan, but nowadays you have to hop on an IKEA weekend bus on Lexington or drive out yourself to the IKEA Elizabeth (1000 Center Drive, 201-352-0843) New Jersey store. The famous DUX range of furniture and mattresses are available in Manhattan (305 E 63rd St, 212-752-3897). You will find exquisite Swedish crystal at Galleri Orrefors Kosta Boda (58 E 57th St 800-351-9842). If you are looking for romantic Swedish furniture, check out White on White (888 Lexington Ave 212-288-0909) and go to H55 (17 West 12th St.) and Clearly First (980 Madison Avenue, 212-988-8242, see also page 23) for good Scandinavian Modern design.

SCANDINAVIAN HOUSE
is the new 8-floor home of the American Scandinavian Foundation (58 Park Ave 212-879-9779). You dutifully check in at the door and then proceed to access varying exhibitions, the Aquavit-run cafe and the small gift store with books and Scandinavian design. In the evenings there are often film screenings and throughout the year there are concerts, seminars and other events.

The American Scandinavian Foundation promotes the exchange of people and ideas between the United States and Scandina-via. The idea for such an exchange came from Danish emigrant Niels Poulson who founded the organization in 1910. The exchange programme got a boost in 1964 from a bequest from The Thord Gray Memorial Fund (approx 4.5 million) to be used for scholarship exchange between Sweden and the U.S. (General Ivar Thord-Gray, 1878-1964, originally with the surname Hallström, was a fascinating Swede who jumped ship in South Africa when he was 18 and joined the British Army after a spell as a farm-hand. He fought with varying armies in Africa, the Philippines, Indochina, China, Siberia, the Far East and Mexico. Also a farmer and a businessman, he wrote the only known dictionary for the language of the Tarahumara Indians of Mexico, with whom he fought in the Mexican Revolution.

ÄRTANS VÄNNER
(Friends of the Pea Soup) get together almost once a month The Roger Smith Hotel to feast on herring and aquavit, pea soup and punsch, and thin Swedish pancakes to top it off. Ärtans Vänner take a break during summer but you can join them for crayfish September 26 (details at www.artans-vanner.com). The all-male Swedish-speaking members come armed with a funny story to share and there is much singing of traditional songs. The Roger Smith (501 Lexington Avenue, 212-755-1400 www.rogersmith.com) with hotel manager Joachim Ohlin and a nice bar is the unofficial “Swedish” hotel and frequent networking place for Swedes in town. The Swedish-American Chamber of Commerce New York chapter (599 Lexington Ave., New York, NY 10022, 212-838-5530) have a monthly “tisdagsklubb” besides arranging crayfish parties and Lucia celebrations with high-powered guest speakers. Sweden was the first country to sign a trade agreement with the United States in 1783 and SACC is an information must for Swedish executives based around New York. There are many other social organizations in New York like SWEA, Swedish Folkdancers and others. The Swedish Ski Club is still going strong 85 years after its start. Founded by the famous ski jumper Siegfried Steinwall, the Club constructed its second jump at the Bear Mountain State Park where it still sponsored tournaments as late as in 1990. The Club has a lodge in Vermont that it calls Skibo. When Harry Wallin arrived from Lappland in the 20s, an active membership in the ski club allowed him to do what he loved most. This love of skiing also translated into three large ski equipment stores. Today it is his son Bo who runs the large Scandinavian Ski & Sportshop (40 W 57th St., 212-757-8524).

THE BRONX
gets its name from Swedish captain Jonas Jonasson Bronck who arrived in New Amsterdam (now New York) in 1639. That was just a year after the founding of the first settlement across the river in Wilmington, Delaware (then called New Sweden). Bronck built a homestead of considerable size in the borough named after him. There are still a lot of Swedes living in the Bronx and you can find a few of them at the Manhem Club (685 Clarence Ave., 212-308-2523) where there is food, drinks and sometimes dancing.

600 PARK AVENUE
is a beautiful three-story building and the residence of Swedish Consul General Olle Wästberg and his wife Inger Claesson-Wästberg. Built in Italian neo-renaissance style in 1910 for a wealthy merchant, the building was purchased directly after World War II when there was a shortage of rental space in New York. Eventually the four smaller buildings next to it were also purchased so that the Swedish state now owns 21 apartments with very tony addresses for its New York employees. Almost sold or redeveloped in the 60s, the landmark buildings have now undergone extensive renovations making the Consul General’s residence one of the most prestigious in the city.

When the Wästbergs arrived they felt that the interiors needed updating and managed, through contacts with up-and-coming Swedish designers and through a much-acclaimed Josef Frank exhibition, to refurbish the Residence and transform it into a showplace for modern Swedish design. Josef Frank was an Austrian architect who settled in Sweden but spent the war years in New York.

New York is the Wästbergs’ favourite city so Olle was delighted when he was asked to take on the job of Consul General. The couple left prestigious jobs (Olle was Chairman of the Board of Sveriges Radio and Inger was Director General of the Office of the Ombudsman for the Dis-abled) for their new careers, visibly raising the profile of the Consulate General with a trendy quarterly newsletter, the www. swedenny.com site, seminars, networking and a much bigger flow-through at the Residence. To help them with the practical aspects they brought with them chef Janne Wikström and butler Anders Odelius who ran a catering firm in Stockholm. So whether it’s a lunch for Queen Silvia, a fashion show or a five-course gourmet dinner kick-off for a Swedish Culinary week, the Wästbergs manage their dream jobs well and can take pride in the praise their events receive in the New York media.

SWEDISH COTTAGE
in Central Park has just been renovated by Skanska to its 1876 glory. The timbered Swedish-made schoolhouse was part of the Swedish exhibit at the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia and was later sold (for fifteen hundred dollars) and moved to the park where you can now see a performance of the popular marionette theater housed there.

SOLHEM
is the poetical name of a beautiful old building on Staten Island, which became the “Swedish Home for the Aged”. Built originally as a wedding gift for the daughter of Commodore Vanderbilt, the house was still “out in the country” when the United Swedish Societies of New York purchased it in 1912. Today the idyllic location still seems miles away from the bustling metropolis, even though it is just a short ferry ride away. The original house has seen two major additions and the land around it has also been extended through purchases and gifts. There are 40 residents, a majority of them Swedish, in this well-managed resthome. The dining room and many of the social rooms are intact from the Vanderbilt era. There is also a “Swede Shop” and a large assembly room that is often used by visiting Swedish performers and local organizations. You could not find a nicer place to retire in. (The Swedish Home for the Aged Inc., 20 Bristol Ave., Staten Island, N.Y. 10301-4199, 718-442-1096).

THE SWEDISH CHURCH
is an all-Swedish oasis right in the center of Manhattan (10-21 Sunday-Friday, 11-21 Thursdays and 12-18 Saturdays at 5 East 48th St., 212-832-8443). The large lounge complete with Swedish dailies, coffee and homemade goodies have become a living room for New York’s 15 000 Swedes and the city’s many Swedish visitors. The church service in the beautiful upstairs chapel is held in Swedish at 11am every Sunday. There are at least nine other churches (like the Gustavus Adolphus at 155 E 22nd St. and the Swedish Salvation Army at 221 E 52nd St.) from the time when New York was the largest Swedish American urban center next to Chicago. There are another seven churches with Swedish ancestry in nearby Jamestown, but little Swedish has been used there during the last thirty years.

NAN ANNAN
(above) is the wife of UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and one of the most talked about Swedes in town. The ex-judge, sculptor and niece of Raoul Wallenberg can sometimes be seen at the UN building that has so many Swedish links. The Economic and Social Council Chamber was designed by architect Sven Markelius and features a Swedish marble floor and burgundy curtains from Märta Måås-Fjetterström’s studio. The large iron ore slab and the abstract painting by Bo Beskow in the Meditation Room are Swedish gifts. The room was the idea of Swedish Secretary General Dag Hammarskjöld and he, and Folke Bernadotte, are honoured with plaques outside. Now there is also a sculpture of Raoul Wallenberg in the compounds of the UN building. Outside (above) you can also see Carl-Fredrik Reuterswärd’s anti-violence sculpture and Barbara Hepworth’s abstract bronze sculpture and a bust by Carina Ari erected in the memory of Dag Hammarskjöld. Nearby there is also the Dag Hammarskjöld Library and Plaza complex where the Swedish UN delegation, Consulate General (212-751-5900) and Information Service are located on the 45th floor.

SWEDISH COOKING
got a break-through at the New York World Exposition when restaurants like Gripsholm, Three Crowns, Villa Sweden and Greta Garbo, that served a smörgås-bord, became all the rage. Long after all of them (except for Nyborg & Nelson, which also gave up a few years ago), Håkan Swahn opened the Aquavit Restaurant at 13 West 54th St (212-307-7311) in 1987 that put Swedish cuisine squarely back on the New York map. Chef and co-owner Marcus Samuelsson who gave Aquavit three-star status in New York Times has himself become a superstar who is a frequent guest on Good Morning America, and often written up in Gourmet and Food & Wine magazines. Orphaned at age three in Ethiopia, Marcus was adopted by a Swedish couple and learned to cook as a kid from his Swedish grandmother. Aquavit, that occupies two levels of a townhouse once owned and lived in by John D Rockefeller Jr, has a soberly sophisticated Scandinavian modern design and is the place to go for inventive gourmet variations on Swedish cuisine.
If you crave more basic Swedish fare in a cozier “Swedish” setting, Ulrika’s (115 East 60th St, 212-355-7069) close to the Bloomingdales department store is your choice. Here you can sample Ulrika Bengtsson’s version of traditional dishes like meatballs and Beef Rydberg, but also Salmon a la Rydberg and Cod Tournedo, because Ulrika loves fish and once worked at the legendary Johanna in Göteborg. For several years Ulrika was the executive chef of Consul General Dag Sebastian Ahlander before she branched out into catering and eventually her own restaurant together with Swedish chef Mimi Claps. Last May you could see Ulrika in the popular Food Network show “My Country My Kitchen”. For the real thing order her A Journey through Sweden tasting menu.

When Stockholm-born Fanny Farkas settled down to married life in a beautiful brownstone on 36th Street, she initially kept herself busy with entertaining and charity work. Eventually she started a cooking school and this led her via catering to a restaurant called Market Cafe (496 Ninth Ave 212-967-8900) that she runs with her partner chef Robin Mailey. You can enjoy well-priced classics here in a French bistro-type setting. There are also some exciting variations like an excellent Grilled Gravlax.

In Chinatown Annika Sandvik’s Good World Bar & Grill (3 Orchard St, 212-925-9975) in what used to be the Good World Hairdressing Salon, has become a very popular night spot that now is also open for lunch or brunch. With some 75 different brands of beer and about 20 tapas-sized dishes, there is something for every taste. Much of the food, including Toast Skagen and Smoked Salmon rolls, has an “exotic” Swedish taste that reviewers have raved about.

The most recent arrival on the Swedish restaurant scene in New York is Tja Restaurant and Lounge (301 Church St, 212-226-8900) that has already had great write-ups in Where New York, Traveller and even Marie Claire Japan. The youngish Tja stays open late and was a very popular hang-out in the small hours when Sweden was playing in the world soccer championships.
Another famous Swedish chef is Christer Larsson who worked at Aquavit until he opened his own Christer’s (145 W 55th St 212-974-7224) that quickly became famous for the unique fish dishes. Christer has now left the “fishing cabin in the Airdondacks”-inspired restaurant to his partner, also letting go of the gourmet hot dog and Christer’s fish and chips stands in the Grand Central Station, to pursue his new small Christer Larsson’s Alta Restaurant (365 Greenwich Ave, 203-622-5138) in Greenwich, Connecticut. Here he can pick the herbs in his own garden and perfect the fish dishes he has become so famous for among old fans who happily travel from the city for a fix.

JEANNE WIDMAN
Any time Swedes get together in New York, Jeanne Widman is almost sure to be there. If it is a celebration of some kind, you can count on her wearing her folk dress and carrying her accordion and somewhere close by you will find her guitar-playing husband Randi.

Jeanne is the daughter of legendary accordionist Walter Erickson the undisputed “King of the Scandinavian Music” who died in 1993. The SkandJam festival that Jeanne founded in honour of her father, and inspired by the Ransäter Accordion festival in Sweden, is now in its tenth year. It features everything from gammeldans to dansbandsmusik, folk music, folk dancing, a little bit of country, a bit of rock n roll and Emcee Jeanne Widman’s corny accordion jokes. From time to time, Jeanne has also run her father’s “Scandinavian Echoes” radio program, written a column in the Swedish “Dragspels Nytt”, played the accordion in the Scandinavian Accordion Club of New York and been a director and dance leader for the Vasa Folkdancers of New York. And she has done all this with a broad, happy smile on her face, always thoroughly enjoying herself.

GRETA GARBO
(right) was undoubtedly the most famous Swede living in New York. You could sometimes spot the elusive film star near her eastside apartment. Today you have to make do with visiting her perfumer (Caswell-Massey on 518 Lexington Ave.) for a whiff of Valentina’s My Own, the vanilla-sweet scent that Greta Garbo always wore. In the same blocks where the paparazzi used to lurk around for a glimpse of Greta, you can now sometimes spot model turned film-star Isabella Rosselini. Ever since Eileen Ford started scouting for models in Sweden there has been an abundance of Swedish models in New York (where models are better paid than in Paris and Milan and are allowed to keep more professional 9-5 working hours). Even super model Paulina Porizkova has a Swedish past. Her parents fled Czechoslovakia in 1967 without Paulina. It took them eight years of hunger strikes and a dramatic air rescue to bring Paulina to Lund in southern Sweden, where an agent discovered her when she was fifteen.

© Swedish Press from the September 2002 issue