The view south from Langebro
Through much of its history the inner harbour in Copenhagen was a working port and naval dockyard. There were some houses on Gammel Strand, the houses of merchants, and houses along Nyhavn and facing onto the canals in Christianshavn but until the beginning of this century most of the buildings directly on the quayside of the inner harbour itself were warehouses, customs buildings, factories and the yards and buildings for the navy along with some major ship-building yards.
Buildings from the late 19th century on Havngade along the quay to the south of Nyhavn
The first major purpose-built apartment buildings that overlooked the inner harbour itself were built in the late 19th century along what is now Havngade between the canal and Nyhavn when this land, a large triangle south of Kongens Nytorv, was made available with the move of the naval dockyards from here to Holmen on the other side of the harbour.
Around 1900 substantial blocks of apartments for workers were constructed on the Amager side of the harbour below Stadsgraven and the western-most of these overlooked the harbour and some modern blocks were constructed along the harbour side of Christianshavn.
The real change however began in the late 20th century as ship building and many of the facilities for the navy and factories and commercial warehouses in the inner harbour were rationalised, closed down or relocated. Substantial historic warehouses have been converted to apartments and new apartment buildings constructed particularly to the south on either side of the harbour and also north on the quays of the Old Free Port, north of Kastellet. Further north work is ongoing to transform the area of the North Harbour and, beyond that, there are new apartment buildings around the site and wharves of the site of the Tuborg brewery.
Most of these new apartments overlook former harbour basins or are actually built on former harbour quays. As yet there are few new apartment buildings overlooking the Øresund itself although there are some new buildings close to the metro stations at Øresund and Amager Strand.
Overall, this may not sound like substantial development until you look at the map and calculate some distances. If you take the inner harbour to be from Nordre Tolbod to the southern bridge Langebro that is nearly 2½ kilometres (1.5 miles) but from the bridge on south down the harbour to the new development of apartments at Sluseholmen is over 3 kilometres (2 miles) with major developments of apartment buildings on both sides and from Tolbod north to the quayside at the former Tuborg site is well over 4 kilometres (nearly 3 miles) and that basic distance doesn't show just how much land is being reclaimed at Nordhavn - the North Harbour - for new apartment buildings.