Thursday, September 17, 2009

A man with a dream

The founder of Tivoli was Georg Carstensen. He was born in 1812 in Algiers where his father was Danish consul and it was in the Near East that he spent large parts of his childhood. His education was in Denmark though, in Copenhagen and at the boarding school of Herlufsholm. He travelled widely in the 1830's with Spain, Algiers, Morocco, France, England and USA on the list. When he moved to Copenhagen in 1839 he founded the periodicals Figaro and Portefeouillen. During parties to promote these papers he used parks in Copenhagen that were illuminated with lanterns and fireworks. The success of these parties inspired him to mimic London's Vauxhall on the old wall terrain just outside the city, for which he got the king's permission. In the years 1843 to 1848 he developed Tivoli, until the war with Schleswig started. He joined the army and returned as lieutenant only to discover that he was no longer needed or wanted at Tivoli. He then travelled to the Danish West Indies to join the army there and found his way to New York City where he constructed New York Crystal Palace for an exhibition. When Carstensen returned to Copenhagen in 1855 he founded a rival to Tivoli; Alhambra on Frederiksberg, which only has left a street name to remember it by. Carstensen died in 1857 aged 44. And his largest legacy is still Tivoli, even though there is nothing left of the original buildings.