The construction of the Jordaan
noordermarktvroegerThe relatively tolerant Amsterdam has as from the middle ages an enormous attraction on strangers. Around 1600 Amsterdam bursts out its borders, more than fourteenthousand people knock annually at the gates. In one century time the population of Amsterdam increased from 50,000 to 220,000 inhabitants. In that busy construction period The town government needed many ground workmen, carriers, masons and carpenters and especially therefore reduced the gate fee.

The rich traders from Spain and Antwerp had the possibility to 'buy' themselves into the city centre, but the poor newcomers had to seek a place in temporary and illegal construction outside the town wall. There they were continuously hounded by soldiers, because the constructions were dangerously for the city. These constructions could be used by the enemy as shelter during a siege.
jordaan1700Meanwhile the traders and craftsmen lived increasingly further packed in the old town centre. For this reason the town government decided in 1609 to extend the city. The traders, which had gathered their wealth with overseas trade, preferred to have water in front of the doors of their future houses. For this reason they constructed around the town centre the, now world famous, belt of canals (the grachtengordel). The workmen which had their constructions on this part, were driven off to an island at the west of the 'grachtengordel'. There the town government had planned a new district for them, which was indicated as the 'Nieuwe Werck' (new work).

For the luxuriously 'grachtengordel' they bought for large amounts of money ground and dug wide canals and build large manor houses. In the 'Nieuwe werk', later known as 'Jordaan', they worked less energetic. The narrow canals and streets were construction on the basis of existing ditches and paths. Because of this a street pattern existed which did not connected on the pattern of the grachtengordel.

Surrounding the Jordaan they constructed a new defence rampart surrounded by the 'Singelgracht' (surrounding canal). For the hundred meters the wall was interrupted by a pentagonal bastion with guns. On the bastions there came 26 wind mills. The insipid arc which the Marnixstraat now makes, still reminds to that defence rampart.

goudsbloemgrachtThe Jordaan was not directly from the beginning full with houses. Houses are varied with kitchen gardens and orchards. Because of this the neighborhood gets a rural character.

The most of streets run of East to West and are developed by the workmen with small industrial buildings and dwelling houses. Here they start the type of companies which are not permitted in the grachtengordel.

The district gets divided in streets for tailors, potters and leather craftsmen. In the Bloemstraat (flowerstreet) and Raamstraat (windowsstreet) you had the weaver and painters, which stretched their painted pieces of cloth on a window and putted them outside the city wall for drying. For that purpose there was one gate in the wall available, which was called the windowgate (raampoort). That is why that spot is now still called the raampoort. The leather business was concentrated around the Elandsgracht and Looiersgracht. The potter you could find in the Anjeliersgracht (now Westerstraat) and Tichelstraat.