The city’s oldest working-class suburb is Haga; once so run-down that demolition was on the cards, today it’s one of Gothenburg’s most enjoyable quarters. The transformation took place in the early 1980s, after someone saw potential in the web of artisans’ homes known as “governor’s houses”, distinctive early nineteenth-century buildings constructed with a stone ground floor and two wooden upper storeys.
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Haga is now a miniature version of Greenwich Village, with well-off and socially aware 20- and 30-somethings hanging out in the style-conscious cafés and shops along its cobbled streets. There are a couple of good cafés along the main thoroughfare, Haga Nygatan, which is really somewhere to come during the day, when there are tables out on the street and the atmosphere is friendly and villagey – if a little self-consciously fashionable. Apart from the boutiques, which sell things like Art Deco light fittings, calming crystals and nineteenth-century Swedish kitchenware, it’s worth noting the intervening apartment buildings; these red-brick edifices were originally almshouses funded by the Dickson family, the city’s British industrialist forefathers who played a big part in the success of the East India Company – Robert Dickson’s name is still emblazoned on the facades.