Gävle [ˈjɛːvlə] is a city in Sweden, the seat of Gävle Municipality and the capital of Gävleborg County. It had 68,700 inhabitants in 200. It is the oldest city in the historical Norrland (Sweden's Northern Lands), having received its charter in 1446 from Christopher of Bavaria.
It is believed that the name Gävle derives from the word gavel, meaning river banks in Old Swedish and referring to the Gavleån (Gävle River). The oldest settlement was called Gavle-ägarna, which means "Gavel-owners". This name was shortened to Gavle, then Gefle, and finally [back to] Gävle.
For a long time Gävle consisted solely of small, low, turf or shingle roofed wooden buildings. Boat-houses lined the banks of Gavleån, Lillån, and Islandsån. Until the 1700s the town was built, as was the practice then, around the three most important buildings: the church, the regional palace, and the town hall.
Over the last 300 years Gävle has been ablaze on three different occasions. After the fire of 1776 the town was rebuilt with straight streets and rectangular city blocks. The number of stone and brick houses also started to increase. The biggest town fire occurred 1869, when out of a population of around 10,000 approximately 8,000 inhabitants lost their homes, and about 350 farms were destroyed. Almost the whole town north of Gavleån was burnt down. All the buildings south of Gavleån were saved. An area of the old town between the museum and the library has been preserved to this day as a historic reserve, Gamla Gefle. [It is in this sector that the Forsgren family home is located]
The Town Shield
Gävle is situated by the Baltic Sea near the mouth of the river Dalälven. At 60 degrees north and 17 degrees east, Gävle has the same latitude as Helsinki and the same longitude as Vienna and Cape Town.
Gävle has a similar climate to the rest of central Sweden, with an average temperature of −5 °C (23 °F) in January and 17 °C (63 °F) in July. Yearly rainfall is around 600 mm (23.62 in).
Gävle is mostly known for the coffee called Gevalia, produced by Kraft General Foods Scandinavia and exported under multiple brand names. Gevalia is particularly popular in the Americas. Gevalia produces dozens of unique flavored coffees for the United States that are not available to its customers in Europe.
The following entry is from the 1911 Britannica Encyclopedia:
GEFLE, a seaport of Sweden on an inlet of the Gulf of Bothnia, chief town of the district (län) of Gefleborg, 112 m. N.N.W. of Stockholm by rail. Pop. (1900) 29,522. It is the chief port of the district of Kopparberg, with its iron and other mines and forests. The exports consist principally of timber and wood-pulp, iron and steel. The harbour, which has two entrances about 20 ft. deep, is usually ice-bound in mid-winter. Large vessels generally load in the roads at Gråberg, 6 m. distant. There are slips and shipbuilding yards, and a manufacture of sail-cloth. The town is an important industrial centre, having tobacco and leather factories, electrical and other mechanical works, and breweries. At Skutskar at the mouth of the Dal river are wood-pulp and saw mills, dealing with the large quantities of timber floated down the river; and there are large wood-yards in the suburb of Bomhus. Gefle was almost destroyed by fire in 1869, but was rebuilt in good style, and has the advantage of a beautiful situation. The principal buildings are a castle, founded by King John III. (1568-1592), but rebuilt later, a council-house erected by Gustavus III., who held a diet here in 1792, an exchange, and schools of commerce and navigation.