Alexander Boersstraat, Amsterdam

Alexander Boersstraat & City Limits

In the Oud-Zuid neighborhood, between the Concert­gebouw and the Vondel­park, lies the Alexander Boers­straat, which runs parallel to the Van Baerle­straat. The street itself has an interesting history and some interesting buildings. You wouldn’t guess it today, but this street was once outside of the Amsterdam city limits, together with the Concert­gebouw. The street is named after Alexander Boers, mayor of the town of Nieuwer-Amstel from 1885 to 1890 — the street belonged to that municipality until May 1st, 1896.

Former City Hall of Nieuwer-Amstel at Amsteldijk 67

Amsteldijk seen towards the Ceintuur­baan in 1891. The building with the tower is the former City Hall of Nieuwer-Amstel at Amstel­dijk 67. From 1914 until 2007 it was used as the Amsterdam City Archives. Currently the 5-star Pestana Riverside hotel. 

Former City Hall of Nieuwer-Amstel seen from Weesperzijde

The former City Hall of Nieuwer-Amstel at Amsteldijk 67 in 2020, seen from the Weesper­zijde.

Country homes for the rich

Nieuwer-Amstel was, until 1964, the name of the current muncipality of Amstel­veen. In the 17th and 18th century many well-to-do Amsterdammers moved to the Amstel river banks (which belonged to Nieuwer-Amstel) in the summer­time, looking for some quiet and space and above all fresh air — Amsterdam was horrible in hot summers, the stench of the open sewer canals (in which everyone dumped their garbage) and the polluting industries must have been something else. Along the river Amstel, those who could afford it constructed big country houses. With each expansion of Amsterdam, the land under the control of Nieuwer-Amstel shrank.

Wester-Amstel estate, established in 1662

Wester-Amstel estate, established in 1662 by Nicolaas Pancras, mayor of Amsterdam and board member of the VOC. In the 18th century there were around 50 estates along the Amstel River. Only three remain, of which Wester-Amstel is the oldest.

Difficulty with the neighbours

According to Amsterdam historian Theo Bakker’s extensive research, the munici­palities of Amsterdam and Nieuwer-Amstel made life very difficult for each other before the land annexation. From 1877 on, every plan presented by Amsterdam for expansion was met with heavy resistance from Nieuwer-Amstel, which kept building streets and houses right on the Amsterdam municipal borders in an attempt to block the growth of Amsterdam to the south.

The struggle for the Museumplein area

Amsterdam was convinced in 1891 that the annexation of a large part of Nieuwer-Amstel would work, despite the fierce opposition. In the meantime, a stinking and polluting large candle factory had blocked the development of the Museum­plein area for three decades, but it was eventually bought by Amsterdam in 1906 for a huge sum of money and torn down. A new street pattern had been designed by architect Pierre Cuypers in 1891, but it wasn’t until after the land annexation in 1896 that Amsterdam had the chance to implement Cuypers vision.

Map from 1882, showing the border between Amsterdam and Nieuwer-Amstel

Detail of a map from 1882, showing the border between Amsterdam and the town of Nieuwer-Amstel. On the right hand (East) side of the empty Museumplein the wax candle factory which blocked the new street plans for three decades.

Concertgebouw in the middle of nowhere, around 1900

Concertgebouw in the middle of nowhere, between the farms, around 1900

The Concert­gebouw had been finished in 1888 after five years construction, but it was located on land owned by Nieuwer-Amstel. Even though Amsterdam paved a road in front of the Concert­gebouw as close as possible to the existing municipal border, incorporating the constructions done by Nieuwer-Amstel outside the Amsterdam city borders just before the annexation proved difficult for the street plans — which explains how the Alexander Boers­straat got its undulating shape. The street was created in 1892 by Nieuwer-Amstel, follows the curved municipal border and includes non-19th century buildings.

Alexander Boersstraat 60-62

A farm-like house you would expect to see in a village, but with definite Amsterdam School elements, probably from 1923. It used to be a carpenter’s workshop and garage. The garage extension was added somewhere around 1930. Above the entrance a gable stone depicting a pigeon attacked by a sparrowhawk, “Niemant sonder vyant. An 1720” (None without enemy). The plaque was originally located in the gable of the Rapenburger­straat 9 until the beginning of the 19th century. How it got to be attached to this house is unclear. A copy of the stone is shown in the library of the City Archives.

Alexander Boersstraat 60-62

Alexander Boersstraat 60-62, gable stone

Alexander Boersstraat 33-43

A rounded block of apartments, designed by architect L. Beirer, can be found at the corner of the Alexander Boers­straat and the Van Eeghen­straat, constructed around 1895. Number 35 houses paint & glass store Phoenix. The block is a municipal monument.

Alexander Boersstraat 33-43

Alexander Boersstraat 52

Number 52 (built in 1922) used to be a car repair shop with an apartment above it, now the Amsterdam head­quarters of Sea Shepherd. The style definitely has distinct Amsterdam School influences. The roof border with the red tiles was only added later between 1972 and 1988, so even though this border works hard to pretend to be authentic Amsterdam School too, it isn’t.

Alexander Boersstraat 52, photo 1

Alexander Boersstraat 52, photo 2

Alexander Boersstraat Impressions


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