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I am Dutch and currently studying abroad in California. I heard several people (first in real life, and after I googled it, I saw some people online doing the same thing) refer to a Dutch town in California. It turned out to be Solvang, which is a town with Danish origins.

I saw on photos that windmills, clogs, tullips and what I would 'Delfts blauw' (according to wikipedia the English term is Delftware, but I don't know if that is a commonly used term) are everywhere in Solvang. These are known as typically Dutch products (and, as far as I know, not so much as Danish products).

This leads me to believe that Solvang has some connection to the Netherlands, but I can't find a reliable source which clearly explains the relation between Solvang and the Netherlands (besides that Denmark and the Netherlands both are located somewhere in Northern Europe).

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4  
You'd be surprised at the number of people (around the world) who have no idea about the difference between Danish and Dutch. –  Greg Hewgill May 7 at 1:12
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I noticed that (especially with Americans). But you would think the people of Danish and Dutch descent would know the difference themselves, right? :P I mean, that would explain why Americans think it's Dutch town, but it would not explain the windmills, clogs, tullips and Delftware. –  Mon Kee Poo May 7 at 1:22
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The photos on the Wikipedia page look decidedly more Danish than Dutch. –  MastaBaba May 7 at 1:40
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Well, some people on Yelp think it's Dutch, so there's that...but hopefully they'll repent someday like this reporter who made a similar mistake and blogged about it! –  Nick Stauner May 7 at 3:01

1 Answer 1

up vote 8 down vote accepted

I wouldn't read too much into it. First and foremost, Solvang is a big tourist trap. This "Danish" town prominently features, for example, a store famous for its collection of German cuckoo clocks and a museum of mostly British motorcycles. You'll no doubt find Delft plates for sale there for the same reason you find T-shirt shops; it's a cheap souvenir, and most tourists stopping through on their way up the coast won't be too picky culturally. It's the same reason you can find Japanese lanterns for sale in San Francisco's Chinatown.

Though the Netherlands is more famous for them, Denmark does have its windmills and wooden clogs. The first windmill in Solvang, built in 1947, was designed by Danish-American architect Ferdinand Soresen in the Danish Provincial style; he built another in 1950 and Danish immigrants Borge and Mimi Andresen built another in 1957, so I don't think their presence can be ascribed to Dutch influence. Many buildings in the town center were retrofitted with false timbering and thatched roofs to appeal to tourists, and not originally designed in the Danish style— in fact, like most of California, many of the older buildings were originally Spanish Mission Revival style. In other words, all you see— whether it looks Danish, Dutch, or something else— is modern-day aping.

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That's clear, and, to be honest, a little disappointing. I just found it curious that the symbols so prevalent in Solvang are exactly the symbols that the Netherlands are so famous for. –  Mon Kee Poo May 7 at 1:46

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