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Sister act! Bay Ridge and tiny Norway town are now bonded forever

On Saturday, (from left) Victor Samuelson, a relative of the mayor of Farsund, Norway; Councilman Vincent Gentile (D–Bay Ridge); and Henrik Width, deputy consul general of the Royal Norwegian Consulate General in New York; signed a sister city agreement between the small Norwegian town and Bay Ridge.
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A far-flung Norwegian province likes Brooklyn so much that it is recreating the look and feel of the borough during its post-War glory years with an extensive redesign of the center of the town — aptly dubbed Brooklyn Square.

Farsund’s love affair with Brooklyn was consummated on Saturday when the municipality signed a Sister City agreement with Bay Ridge — despite the fact that Bay Ridge is not a city.

The signing between Councilman Vince Gentile (D–Bay Ridge) and Henrik Width, deputy general consul of the Norwegian Consulate, took place in the shelter of a Sixth Avenue church during decidedly Norwegian weather, and has no real legal or binding effect, but is meant to show support and good will toward the region, which has always had an affinity for the borough.

“It’s important to remember where you came from,” said Gentile. “With this signing, we celebrate our two cities and shine a spotlight on the mutual contributions that have vastly enriched all of our lives.”

Farsund, which is a municipality of Vest Agder, Norway, hosts an “American Festival” every year — featuring 1950s and 1960s American music, classic American cars, and a Norwegian Elvis impersonator — and is currently recreating the look and feel of a post-war Bay Ridge on the town’s Eighth Avenue in its “Brooklyn Square.”

“We have American shops, an American bar and supper club with American food and music, a museum — and we have even changed the name of our street into Brooklyn Square,” said Hans-Egill Berven of Farsund, one of the planners of the project.

Brooklyn’s ties with Norway stretch back at least 150 years, when thousands of Nordic craftsmen set sail for the promised land to help build the rapidly growing city.

“They were good carpenters, floor layers, sailors and businessmen,” said Farsund Mayor Richard Ivar Buch. “Many of these Norwegian-Americans came back to Farsund and sent their children and grandchildren to America to make a career like they themselves had done. Farsund today is more Americanized than any other society in Norway.”

Norwegian transplants who remembered Farsund in the economic doldrums following World War II said Brooklyn was appealing because of the prevalence of jobs in the shipbuilding trade.

“Norway has shipped so many people over here,” said Madnar Hansen, a Norwegian contractor who has lived in Brooklyn for 62 years. “There weren’t so many local jobs, so they came here.”

Reach reporter Dan MacLeod at dmacleod@cnglocal.com or by calling him at (718) 260-4507. You can also follow his Tweets at @dsmacleod.
Updated 12:03 pm, November 9, 2011
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Reasonable discourse

Lorenzo from Park Slope says:
This is an excellent idea.

This will help to dispell the idea that somehow Norway is a corrupted society, widely held by many right-wingers. Anti-Norwegian sentiment flurished in the pages of the American right-wing blogs after the terrible attack on and murder of 77 young Norwegian political activists, on a little island in a fiord, by a Norwegian right-wing extremist.
Nov. 1, 2011, 11:38 am
Bay Ridger from Bay Ridge says:
And, Lutheran Medical Center (LMC) was founded in 1883 by Sister Elisabeth Fedde, a Norwegian Lutheran deaconess nurse.
Nov. 1, 2011, 3:25 pm
Charles from Bay Ridge says:
As a proud, Norwegian-American, I think this is great news.

@Bay Ridge, much in this neighborhood was founded by Norwegian and Danish immigrants.
Nov. 2, 2011, 6:28 am
Maurice(Reno)Bergman from Born on Lapskaus Blvd says:
Sad to see another Scandiavian landmark leave the
Lapskaus Blvd, neighborhood of Brooklyn. The Norwegian film maker Arnsten(Archie) Ariansen and
my self, produced a sentimental film about the Norwegian culture that arrived and settled on eight
avenue in Brooklyn The film depicts the lifestyle they
entered, and the strong, safe, and close knit society
they formed, with fellow countrymen. The film contiues on, to those who returned to their homes in Norway. Many brought with them, the American culture,
their cars, furniture, appliances. One even brought home his house and had it assembled on Lista. But
the most imprtant, was that they returned to Norway bring their love for America with them. They celebrate
with a parade on Lista, starting at "Brooklyn Square"
the center of Vanse, Farsund. We should never forget the driving force of creating Brooklyn Square on Vanse,
Svein Arvid Skådal, owner of the 8th Avenue Supper Club.....
Feb. 8, 2012, 7:10 am
M.Bergman from Kristiansand, Norway says:
Last minute reminder. The film " Fading Footsteps of
the America Dream", which depicts the emigration of
thousands of Norwegians, to America and their
lives upon returning to Norway. The film copies
that remain are becoming in short supply.
Arnold Bergman, one of the staff members at the
Norwegian Christian Home and Health Center in Brooklyn, New York, is the
distributor Secure a copy while they last
Feb. 8, 2012, 7:23 am
Renate from Wurzburg, Germany says:
I have made several visits to Norway and one included
Kristiansand, Farsund, and Vanse on Lista. The
American community on Vanse is thriving and it
is like a visit to a small American town. The annual
American parade held in the summer months was
an amazing sight- The people who took part in this
celebration were so enthusiastic and full of fun.
We later ate at the 8th Avenue Supper Club. typical
America food, hamburgers and spare ribs. Then our group toured the display of rooms decorated in the
American stle of the 1960's above the Supper Club.
A final tour of Trunken, next door, a rather typical American food and furniture shop, owned and managed by a voung beautiful woman. She portays herself in the American parade as Prisilla Presley together with an
Elvis impersonater, known as Kjell Elvis. A good time
was had by all , on the visit to Vanse
March 1, 2012, 10:25 am
Reno from Grim, Kristiansand says:
Having settled in Kristiansand, Norway, I am
able to often visit the American flavored
area of Vanse, Norway. The village lies in
the outskirts of the town of Farsund, on the
southern shores of Norway. I welcome all
visitors passing through Kristiansand, to
contact me, should they wish any information
about Vanse's Brooklyn Square . Yes, that is
the official name of the village center.
The street sign was from New York, and errected in Vanse by the town Mayor. That is shown in one of the scenes from the film
"Fading Footsteps of the American Dream"
distributed still by Arnold Bergman at the
Norwegian Christian Health Center on 67th St.,
near 13th Ave., Brooklyn. A phone to Arnold
at 001) 718 851 6899 where orders can be placed
and mailed out worldwide
May 26, 2013, 2:08 pm

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