The triangular Bellamyplein (Bellamy Square) in the western part of town, between Bilderdijkkade and Ten Katestraat, was constructed in 1905 and named after Jacobus Bellamy (1757-1786), a Dutch poet. The former Amsterdam tram depot Tollensstraat (now cultural center De Hallen) is located on the southern side of the square. A small triangular public garden on the square is called the P.W. Janssenplantsoen, after Peter Wilhelm Janssen, trader and philantropist, whose bust was placed there in 1908.
Kwakerspoel (Quaker’s Pool)
The Quakers, who had originally gathered near the Regulierspoort (Regular’s Gate), were expelled from the city in 1657. They settled in this area outside the city walls and they lent their name to the various paths there. From 1706 to around 1824 the Quaker community used a house on Keizersgracht 140 as a church and gathering space. Where they went from there is unclear.
Before 1880, this was a wet rural polder area called Kwakerspoel (Quaker’s Pool), with fourteen sawmills and farm houses. The town council allowed industries to settle here, outside the city walls. Although the area was officially part of the town of Nieuwer-Amstel, it was well under the influence of Amsterdam, especially after the city’s Third Expansion (Derde Uitleg) between 1613 and 1625. All windmills in this area were demolished between 1832 and 1900.
Pleasure gardens in the area resulted in such an increase in pleasure boat traffic that it often blocked the sawmills’ waterways. Eventually all mills, terrains and pleasure gardens were (with some difficulty) expropriated and houses were built where they once stood. The Kwakerspoel was filled in (1886 and 1890), the Kinkerstraat and Da Costastraat were created. Catholic church and cemetery De Liefde became city property in 1912 and the Bilderdijkpark was created where it once stood. The cemetery was moved to Catholic cemetery Sint Barbara (north of the Westerpark).
New houses gradually filled the neighbourhood from 1890 on, the houses on the Bellamyplein were constructed in 1904. The entrances of the houses on the west side of the square have tiles depicting the windmills that once stood there.
The initial layout of the current Bellamy square was done in 1954. In 2018 it was extensively renovated and now almost resembles a Paris city park, complete with a small wading pool (favorite with children in the summer). Bicycles are thankfully all hidden from sight, they have to be parked below De Hallen.
This neighbourhood is one of the lowest lying areas in Amsterdam, so when it rained hard the surrounding streets — six of them end on the square — were soon flooded. Now the city has constructed lower green areas around the square (wadis or drain ditches), which help to drain the water off quickly.
Bellamyplein Photo Gallery (September 2021)
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