Today marks 100 years since Reykjavík’s Old Harbor was formally opened. The construction of the harbor marked a massive change in daily life for Icelanders, as both the fishing and trading industry started booming in the years after its completion.
The Old Harbor was a massive undertaking at the time and two steam trains needed to be imported to the country so that rocks could be transported to the waterfront. Construction started on 8th of March 1913 and the harbor was officially declared open on 16th of November in 1917
Largely a service harbor through most of its history, the Old Harbor has recently blossomed into a hot spot for tourists, with excellent restaurants found there as well as several museums dedicated to history, whales, volcanoes and the Northern Lights. Whale-watching and puffin-viewing trips depart from the pier and photo ops are abound with magical views of fishing boats, Harpa concert hall and snow-capped mountains beyond the bay.
These historical photos below are from The Associated Icelandic Ports organization and show the construction of the harbor.
Workers mining rocks from Öskjuhlíð (the hill that The Pearl sits on top of) that were used to build the harbor.
This Pioner steam train was used to transport rocks from the mine to the waterfront. It was only one of three trains to ever have been used in Iceland and is now a static exhibit at the Icelandic Folk Museum at Arbær. The two men in the photo were conductors Guðmundur Guðmundsson and Páll Ásmundsson.
Members of the city council and journalists tour the construction aboard the steam train in November of 1913.
Construction started on one of the piers.
Construction fully underway in autumn (fall) of 1914.
The Pioner steam train dragging numerous wagons full of rocks needed for the construction.
Drilling with a coal driven drill begins in February of 1916.
Numerous boats docked as construction is just about finished in 1917.
This photograph was taken on May 8th 1917, six months before the harbor had been formally opened.