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How Do You Move a City? 172

Zothecula writes "The town of Kiruna in Lapland, Sweden, is known for its Jukkasjårvi Ice Hotel and for hosting the recent Arctic Council summit. It also sits within the Arctic Circle, on one of the world's richest deposits of iron ore. Now in danger of collapse due to extensive deep mining, the city center is to be relocated."
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How Do You Move a City?

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  • by SternisheFan ( 2529412 ) on Thursday January 09, 2014 @08:37PM (#45912691)
    Slowly and carefully.
    • by lgw ( 121541 ) on Thursday January 09, 2014 @08:44PM (#45912741) Journal

      The same way you move a file across filesystems: copy and delete.

      • by icebike ( 68054 )


        Its not like there is any rush. This has been done many times, for other mines. Some cities in Northern Minnesota have been moved for open pit mines. You simply forbid building where the danger zone.

        Just put up a couple big malls in the desired spot and the downtown will more or less move itself.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Just put up a couple big malls in the desired spot and the downtown will more or less move itself.

          Malls are not a city centre. City centres have soul. A mall is just a big, ugly shopping centre.

          • by icebike ( 68054 )

            Nevertheless, malls have closed more city centers in the US than any other phenomena.

            • The article asked about moving it. Closing it is not the same thing.

              • He essentially answered the question. New buildings and infrastructure are made at the target location, and various policies are set to drain businesses and residents from the source location.

                A city or state has a number of options depending on regional laws: tax credits, rebuilding/relocation of existing structures, government purchase of the land, condemnation of endangered properties, government seizure of the land, relocation assistance programs, tiered/progressive zoning restrictions, and probably a lo

                • He essentially answered the question.

                  No he didn't. If you think a mall is the same as a "proper" downtown I'd like to know what you're smoking. And I'm pretty sure you can't get it at some characterless steel/glass/concrete edifice.

          • Malls are not a city centre. City centres have soul. A mall is just a big, ugly shopping centre.

            You haven't lived or worked in many mining towns north of the Arctic Circle, have you? (And for sure you haven't done so south of the Antarctic Circle.)

            These places are built to service the mines. They have enough facilities to make life sufficiently tolerable for the workers and their families, who choose to move there for the duration of their careers because of the increased wages and then leave.

        • Exactly.

          Its not like there is any rush.

          If fact this is old news. According to Wikipedia "The ground deformations became apparent in 2003, and the redevelopment started in 2007."

      • The same way you move a file across filesystems: copy and delete.

        "Don't copy that city!" -- the architects' trade union.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      How Do You Move a City?

      With a very moving song?

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I got out the old ouija board and asked Johnny Cash how he would do it:

        I'd do it one piece at a time
        And it wouldn't cost me a dime

    • Requires patience and diligence [], it's cheaper to just blow up most of the stuff.
    • Or, if you're in Wales, you'd do it slowly and Caerphilly (the same way you'd eat welsh cheese).
  • Chinese (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SJHillman ( 1966756 ) on Thursday January 09, 2014 @08:41PM (#45912719)

    Ask the Chinese. They moved 1.3 million people, including several cities, to make way for the Three Gorges Dam.

    • Re:Chinese (Score:5, Informative)

      by Jonathunder ( 105885 ) on Thursday January 09, 2014 @08:50PM (#45912781) Homepage

      Or ask Hibbing, Minnesota []. From 1919 to 1921, the entire city moved about two miles to make way for what became the largest open-pit iron mine in the world.

      • Or ask Hibbing, Minnesota []. From 1919 to 1921, the entire city moved about two miles to make way for what became the largest open-pit iron mine in the world.

        Home of Robert Zimmerman, aka Bob Dylan []. Also, that baseball home run champ, Roger Maris.

      • Re:Chinese (Score:5, Interesting)

        by sixsixtysix ( 1110135 ) on Thursday January 09, 2014 @09:58PM (#45913321)
        Said mining company also built the high school ($4million), which I didn't appreciate during time I was there, but after seeing other shitty, cookie-cutter public schools around the country, I take great pride of having attended. I do believe it had the first (or one of; definitely before the white house) indoor swimming pools. Sample of documentary about it. []
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by dave420 ( 699308 )
          You take "great pride" in attending a school you did not choose, and that you had no hand in designing, building, or maintaining? Do you also feel full after someone else eats a meal? How peculiar.
        • by Reziac ( 43301 ) *

          Wow, thanks for the link. I can see how my own high school (Great Falls HS, GtF MT) was patterned after it, albeit on not so grand a scale -- but the same general style and layout, including the balcony and chandeliers (if not nearly so fancy) in the auditorium. It was a great place to learn in.

      • Re:Chinese (Score:4, Informative)

        by Karl Cocknozzle ( 514413 ) <kcocknozzle AT hotmail DOT com> on Thursday January 09, 2014 @11:41PM (#45913829) Homepage

        Or ask Hibbing, Minnesota []. From 1919 to 1921, the entire city moved about two miles to make way for what became the largest open-pit iron mine in the world.

        I'm pretty sure the Simpsons did it, too...

        Ahh yes, here we are: Trash of the Titans, S9 E22 [].

      • Or ask Hibbing, Minnesota

        These were wooden buildings, where it was possible to actually, physically move them...

        Quoting from the article:

        In all, about 200 structures were moved down the First Avenue Highway, as it was called, to the new city. These included a store and even a couple of large hotels. Only one structure didn't make it: the Sellers Hotel tumbled off some rollers and crashed to the ground leaving, as one witness said, "an enormous pile of kindling". The move started in 1919 and the first phase was completed in 1921. Known today as "North Hibbing", this area remained as a business and residential center through the 1940s when the mining companies bought the remaining structures. The last house was moved in 1968.

        With stone buildings, this might be not so easy...

        • With stone buildings, this might be not so easy...

          They moved London Bridge from London to Arizona. Stone by stone. Not as easy, but certainly not unprecedented.

    • by fatphil ( 181876 )
      Pripyat probably did it quicker - 45000 in a matter of days.
      However, they left all the buildings behind. And most stuff they owned.
    • by worf_mo ( 193770 )

      On a definitely smaller scale: Around 1950 several small towns in South Tyrol, Italy, had to be relocated to make place for an artificial lake (Reschensee []).

      The bell tower of the submerged 14th-century church is still sticking out of the water [].

  • It seems to me if you approach it section by section, you can just pour concrete or other filler back in to the section. Using offset parallel channels, you can brace your mine the same time you dig out adjacent channels.

    • by tomhath ( 637240 )
      You could back fill with rock from the surface. But it's cheaper to move the city and let the land subside.
    • It's still an active mine with a huge body of ore beneath the city. The problem is not mainly that the rock is like swiss cheese under Kiruna, but that further mining risk destroying the city. Filling it up would require new tunnels to be built anyway in order to get the ore up, hence the need for unorthodox moves.
    • Or you could have the people who want the iron ore to buy what is above it.
      • by mysidia ( 191772 )

        Or you could have the people who want the iron ore to buy what is above it.

        That might work for gold, but the iron ore isn't valuable enough.

        They would rather instead force people to move, and offer them subsidized loans to build the replacement structure outside the area where there is iron ore to be mined.

    • Concrete on that scale would cause more problems than it's worth. Concrete off-gasses and pressure can build up, faults can form, etc. Not to mention the fact that a massive pour of concrete on that scale would probably take hundreds of years to dry if you tried pouring it all at once (dams usually pour it in small sections, contrary to popular belief).

      • by cusco ( 717999 )

        Concrete doesn't "dry", it hardens. It's a chemical process that happens naturally over the course of x-many hours after mixing (the 'x' will depend on the actual composition), doesn't require expose to air and in fact proceeds normally when poured under water or in vacuum. The majority of the hardening happens within a few hours, but the process doesn't actually complete until years have passed. Most concrete doesn't reach its full strength until months after pouring.

        Dams and other large structures are

  • Here I was thinking that this would be an advertisement for some bigass truck.

    (Which most of their customer base will buy to tool around the suburbs in.)

  • What the? (Score:5, Informative)

    by TubeSteak ( 669689 ) on Thursday January 09, 2014 @08:46PM (#45912749) Journal

    The iron mine is owned by the Swedish government, and it is the mining company who will be paying for the townâ(TM)s re-location. It might seem there is a pretty strong case for shutting down the mines and opting for the preservation of natural environment, and of the longstanding community. But this iron mine is far too important to Swedenâ(TM)s economy, accounting for just under one percent of the countryâ(TM)s overall GNP and a significant portion of the world's iron supply.

    Well that answers all my questions right there.

  • keep digging and it will move vertically (generally, on the whole).
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I think the government tells you what your property is worth, gives the $ to you, and then kicks you off the land. The US gov EPA has done it a few times after areas become contaminated or unlivable from natural disasters or decades of some company or the EPA contaminating the area in one way or another.

    Tar Creek in Oklahoma comes to mind...

  • Easy (Score:5, Funny)

    by allcoolnameswheretak ( 1102727 ) on Thursday January 09, 2014 @08:54PM (#45912815)

    1. Build settlers until the population is reduced to one.
    2. Build one final settler.
    3. Confirm that you want to disband the city.
    4. Settle somewhere else.

    • I prefer the MOM method: allow raiders to conquer a city, reconquer it, and raze it. Costs some fame, but that's easily regained defending the new city.
    • Actually, if you are in a hurry, you can gift the city to an unfriendly neighbor, like Norway, and then attack it relentlessly until it is conquered, and then raze it to the ground. Move all the corpses to the sweet spot and cast a high-level necromancy spell.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    When hurricane Katrina trashed New Orleans, it was the perfect time to relocate to a more sensible place. But everyone had the "we're tough and we'll rebuild" attitude, instead of the "this is a great opportunity to build in a better spot". So they rebuild in the same place so it can happen all over again.

    • by dbIII ( 701233 )
      It's a port city at the mouth of a huge river with vast amounts of trade along it's length.
      There is no better spot
      • The port of New Orleans was open in time to export the US midwest's crops several months after Katrina.

        The tourist trap part of New Orleans is alive and well.

        But nobody builds new slums. Slums are the leftovers, where people who can't afford to live anywhere else land.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 09, 2014 @08:58PM (#45912859)

    They moved 1.3M people out of the city! 18k should be a snap for them.

  • they were already moving things then. normally, Slashdot is only 2 years behind.
  • To borrow from a children's rhyme:
    Here are the streets
    Here is the steeple
    Look in the houses
    The city's the people!
  • Ask Hibbing, MN how they moved their city when it was found to be sitting on a huge Iron Ore deposit. They did it.
  • by An dochasac ( 591582 ) on Thursday January 09, 2014 @09:07PM (#45912949)
    This has been done before. Soldgier's Grove Wisconsin [] was moved due to flooding by the Kickapoo river. One interesting outcome is that this happened in 1979 during a time of rapidly ising energy prices so the new business district was designed to be heated by solar energy. Several million residents who lived in towns near China's 3-gorges dam were also relocated.
    • by pspahn ( 1175617 )

      They flooded it once, so how did it move several times? Or are you simply referring to the sprawl known as Dilverthorne?

  • You move it SpongeBob Style
  • by l0ungeb0y ( 442022 ) on Thursday January 09, 2014 @09:48PM (#45913237) Homepage Journal

    Maybe they can open a Petting Zoo featuring that Balrog of Morgoth they have unleashed.

  • Or copy the city like Springfield. See? Cartoons have all the answers.
  • Easy. Just do nothing and the city will move itself. Down.

  • Jukkasjärvi (Score:5, Informative)

    by hsa ( 598343 ) on Thursday January 09, 2014 @10:07PM (#45913379)

    Even TFA got it wrong. It is Jukkasjärvi, not Jukkasjårvi.

    Direct translation is "The Lake of Jukkas". And "The Loke of Jukkas" sounds funny (å is pronounced that way) in native Finnish tongue.

    Yeah, it is so close to Finland, the name is in Finnish, even though it is a part of Sweden.

  • Valmeyer, Illinois was moved after the flood of 1993. I think that a lot of these communities that are mentioned are somewhat smaller than Kiruna. The linked article seems to say that they intend to move the town center farther west, but it is the west end of the town that is in danger of collapse. I would think moving the center farther east would make more sense in this case.
  • Peter Militch was born in Leigh Creek, a town of 900 people that was about 200 miles from the next town and 400 miles from the nearest real city. Leigh Creek was a government owned town - the government owned all the houses, "even the pub," said Peter. "There was no television, no radio, and only a couple of phones in the town. A couple of years ago the government figured out that the town lay right over the biggest seam of coal in Australia and bulldozed the town and built a new town for the inhabitants [],"
  • Bitter Local (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 09, 2014 @10:23PM (#45913465)

    Nice to see my hometown on Slashdot!

    Personally, I view the move as a necessary evil.
    I prefer the old Town Hall to the plans for the new one, the relocation plans are realistic but will locate the town in a valley, (we're currently on an mountain) and I doubt the competency of the municipal politicians who are supposed to represent the citizens side in the negotiations with the (in my oppinion) much more powerful and skilled mining company.
    We will get a cool cable railway though town, though. Unless it gets scrapped due to budget concerns. (Hint: it will.)

    There are also worries that Kiruna will become a new Malmberget, a neighbouring community that has been split up by mining activities by the very same company.
    Houses might lose their value [] (Googletranslated) and risk standing alone next to the ravine in the years between ones and ones neighbours relocations.
    Not moving isn't really an option, as the mines employ a huge share of the towns population, either directly or via subcontractors.

    There's more information about the competition at the Swedish Association of Architects website:
    Town Hall competition, Googletranslated []
    City Center competition, Googletranslated [], PDFs in english to the right.
    (Note that the winning team are cited as sources in TFA.)

    Posting as AC as I didn't get an account ten years ago and missed out on those lovely low number IDs.
    And the neighbouring villages name is Jukkasjärvi. It is a Finnish/meänkieli name, and they don't even use "å"! (Except in Swedish loanwords.)

    • Posting as AC as I didn't get an account ten years ago and missed out on those lovely low number IDs.

      What, exactly, does that have to do with the price of fish? I don't exactly have a low ID either but I rarely see this mentioned unless you are talking absolute rubbish, which you are not... Or maybe you are? Posting as AC is somehow less suspicious than having a high ID? Is this some Swedish thing I'm missing?

  • ... the same way we built it - on rock and roll

    And now the song is stuck in your head, too. You're welcome.
  • You could use a spindizzy [], you could use volucite [], or you could just have it roll [] on a road [] (though that appears to be more realistic [] than it might seem).

  • Huge empty space underneath?
    Don't move it. Just built all the new buildings so that they retract into the geofront :)
  • No, not Zoning law. "Zoning" is the nickname we gave the D9 Cat.
  • Use it as a storage site for radioactive material. The current citizens will leave on their own.
  • Here is an article that outlines their plans: []

    Why was this even submitted and posted? I found those details in about 15 seconds. It is over a year old.

    You can also plug "urban relocation" into Google or Wikipedia for more general information. What kind of slashdot user has problems doing a web search?

    I like seeing good questions, but anything that be answered with basic search in unde

  • You'll need lots of cheap labour, so do like these people did: (in French) []
    Ask your Friendly Neighbourhood Necromancer to resurrect an army of revenants to help move their descendants' stuff.
    Maybe that FNN can also dig up some extra-strong local workforce to subcontract to ;-)
    then sail away on the Torne Älv ..

    PS: A big thanks to messrs. Pierre Christin and Enki Bilal

A committee takes root and grows, it flowers, wilts and dies, scattering the seed from which other committees will bloom. -- Parkinson