The Raadhuisstraat, situated between the Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal (filled in 1884) and the Keizersgracht, was constructed from 1895 on — the Royal Palace on Dam square was originally the Raadhuis (City Hall) until 1808, hence the name.
To handle the growing traffic from Dam square to the new neighborhoods in the west, the city wanted to create a bigger artery. They filled in the Warmoesgracht (situated between the Singel and the Herengracht). The Huiszittensteeg and the Korte Huiszittensteeg (between the Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal and the Singel) were broadened.
The Westerhal (Weigh House) on the 17th century Westermarkt had already been demolished in 1857. Further out the Rozengracht was filled in, followed by the construction of the De Clercqstraat.
Between the Herengracht and the Keizersgracht a cut was created right through the existing block — with an S-curve, because the streets were not situated in line with each other. To realise this cut, monumental buildings were demolished, in part to create space for the shopping arcade in Art Nouveau style in 1899. Many historical buildings were removed from the Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal, Spuistraat, Huiszittensteeg, Korte Huiszittensteeg, Herengracht and Keizersgracht. All existing bridges were rebuilt, but wider this time.
Many large cities, like Paris and Vienna, were transformed in the 19th century with modern grandeur. Amsterdam — even though it added buildings like the Central Station, the Bijenkorf, the Rijksmuseum and the Head Post Office — was relatively poor most of the time, so few impressive structures were created. The arcade on the southern side of the Raadhuisstraat was an exception in that sense.
Commissioned by Levensverzekering Maatschappij Utrecht (an insurance company) and designed by architect A.L. van Gendt (who also designed the Concertgebouw) and his two sons, a shopping arcade with apartments above it was built between the Herengracht and the Keizersgracht, ready in April 1899.
The north side of the Raadhuisstraat was not so lucky — at the corner of the street at Herengracht 182 stood building “De Zonnewijser”, sold in 1868 to a Catholic orphanage (1868-1932), whose regents were dead against any changes to their backyard. This resulted in a long period of rather haphazard building on the north side of the street, with a mix of many different building styles.
Styles & Renovation
Today the Raadhuisstraat, followed by Rozengracht, De Clercqstraat, Admiraal de Ruyterweg and Jan Evertsenstraat is still one of the main traffic arteries leading from Dam square to the western parts of the city. Many interesting buildings and building styles can be found along the way, from the medieval Dam square, to the 17th and 18th century Grachtengordel (Canal Belt), to the Amsterdam School (from 1910-1930) in the Baarsjes and the austere functionalism of the 1950s and 1960s further West.
In 2020 the city council presented plans to renovate and restructure the Raadhuisstraat and the Rozengracht, as part of a project called Oranje Loper (Orange Carpet), renewing the bridges along the way. A definitive decision is expected in July 2021.
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