The impoverishment of the neighbourhood

looiersgrachtOfficially if was not allowed to built within farmyards, but this rule was frequently violated in the Jordaan. Landlords built small cheap houses behind the existing housing which could be reached via a corridor which where no more then 1 meter wide. These corridors are between the houses or under the staircases. In the 18th century the Jordaan has 972 corridors to 1690 backhouses, in which 3795 families lived.


During the construction period of the Jordaan it was quite normal to cut down on piles, what had as result that some houses began to subside.

During the 18th century there was also the 'small ice age', a number of extreme cold winters. All canals and the harbour freezes so thorough, that the icebreaker could no longer break it. Because of this the boats with drinking water could no longer reach the Jordaan.

rozengrachtalsgrachtTherefore they went searching for alternative sources for water and in 1750 they made a successfully test drilling on the 'Noordermarkt'. On that spot they built a watertank, where the people could buy a jar of filtered water for ten cents. In 1811 Napoleon decides that Amsterdam must get water pipes. The first water from the dunes reaches a tap at the 'Haarlemmerpoort' in 1853 and seven years later it reaches the houses.    

In the 19th century the trading and shipping decreases more and more in Amsterdam. Because of this, the poverty arises considerably in the Jordaan. More empty and badly maintened houses is the result. The canals 'Palmgracht', 'Goudsbloemgracht', 'Lindengracht', 'Anjeliersgracht', 'Rozengracht' and 'Elandsgracht' are transformed into streets because of bad smell. One out of the three inhabitants of Amsterdam lives under the poverty limit of which more than half lives in the Jude district or the Jordaan.

The life circumstances where that bad in the Jordaan, it would not take much to get an explosion of anger of the inhabitants.

palingoproerOn a Sunday in 1886 inhabitants of the ‘Lindengracht’ decided to play an old form of Jordaan entertainment: eel pulling. This cruel game had already been prohibited for a long time, therefore the police force wanted to (in fact correct) end it. Because of this a large fight between the population and the police force arose.

The solidarity of the Jordaanezen thrived on against the authority, which had interfered with their matter. The police force had not yet engaged a psychologist and reacted with exorbitant much violence. The workmen had found their belief (socialism) and where willing to fight for a decent life. For the first time the red flag flew on a Amsterdam barricade. The words of Karl Marx and Domela Nieuwenhuis floated through the Jordaan and fell in fertile ground.

Eventually the army was brought into action and Jordaanezen 26 died and many wounded, in what late the history books have entered as the 'Eel riot'.