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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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    You'd be surprised at the number of people (around the world) who have no idea about the difference between Danish and Dutch. May 7, 2014 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.
    – Ruben
    May 7, 2014 at 1:22
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    The photos on the Wikipedia page look decidedly more Danish than Dutch.
    – MastaBaba
    May 7, 2014 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! May 7, 2014 at 3:01

1 Answer 1

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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.
    – Ruben
    May 7, 2014 at 1:46
  • @Ruben the answer doesn't address the Delftware, though. I wonder if Denmark also had a similar ceramics industry. I'll have to ask my Danish friends. If they did, I hope that the town it was associated with at least starts with D, to maximize confusion! Choster: I agree with everything you say, but it might be a good idea to note that confusion between Denmark and the Netherlands is fairly common, as is confusion about the Netherlands generally.
    – phoog
    Dec 21, 2020 at 19:39
  • I suppose this is not only because of their relative proximity on either side of the Frisian coast but also because of the word "Dutch," which is truly inconsistent with other demonyms and confusing by itself, the country of the Dutch being variously known as the Netherlands and, imprecisely, as Holland. It's no wonder that the Danish got dragged into it. Before I moved to Amsterdam, one person asked me "isn't that the capital of Denmark," while another asked "isn't the Netherlands the capital of Denmark?" Never mind that the NL national government isn't in the capital. Confusing!
    – phoog
    Dec 21, 2020 at 19:41
  • @phoog The most famous brand of Danish plates etc is probably Royal Copenhagen, and they do have some stuff with blue patterns on it that to an untrained eye looks similar to Delftware. Grind that through the "idk, Northern Europe tourist trap" mill enough times and you can sell whatever plates people will buy.
    – mlc
    Dec 21, 2020 at 22:28

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