In the 14th century the church hill of Gammelstad used to be an island in the outlet of the Lule river. The island was situated between river trade path and the coastal waterways from Stockholm and Finland. Gammelstad was therefore perfectly suited as a market place. Long distance merchants sailed here to meet farmers, hunters and fishermen. Here they loaded up with dried pike and salted salmon, butter, tar and furs and they unloaded salt grain, iron and fine textile. All major transportation was done by boat. The waterline was here - perhaps this place was one of the first harbors.
Today you can only see the river from the top of the church tower. The land has risen about seven meters since the 14th century and the course of Lule river has changed.
The landscape is being transformed and Gammelstad is changing. During the 18th century the area between the railway and the river was an island with hay fields for the old town farmers, hence the name Stadsön (town island). Today it is on the mainland and is a residential area with around 4000 inhabitants.