The year is 1850, Kristiania has 9000 inhabitants, but is growing fast, and the infrastructure is changing drastically. The railroad is bringing people from east and west, Oslo becomes available all year round with the introduction of ice breakers to the Oslo Fjord. Pastry chef Julius Fritzner decides to open a hotel in one of the 3 buildings situated on Karl Johan at the time. Very brave - back then!
But a construction boom starts, and in 1874 Grand Café opens with many neighbours. The café is strategically positioned. From a newly built Stortinget the politicians come, and following them are the journalists. A couple of years later the actors come from the National Theatre and other theaters, and the students are - or should be - at the University. It was said that having a son at the University was a costly treat with the Grand Café as next door neighbour.
Last but not least came the artists from "pultosten" or "dasslokket" with Christian Krohg, to get inspiration and more at the Grand Café. No wonder this became a central arena for stories, rumours, mysteries and scandals, and a place where the journalists wrote their columns, with names like "På Grand" ("At the Grand").
It became like a theatre, to see and to be seen. Karl Johans gate got the name Kurland, from a word meaning picking up the ladies. This was around the time when the ladies first dared to venture outside their homes, with shrinking skirts and twirling parasols. For those not wanting to be seen Grand Café had dark brown booths to hide away in.
At first with horse and streetcar, where the streetcar according to the yearly report was on wheels 300 days, on runners 49 days, and 9 days the weather did not allow for operation. This was around 1890. Later the electric tram came, which passed outside the Grand all up until the 1980's.