Raadhuisstraat, Amsterdam


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.

Raadhuisstraat, Amsterdam, seen towards the Westerkerk

Southern side of the Raadhuis­straat with the shopping arcade, seen towards the Wester­kerk.

Map from 1882, location of the later Raadhuisstraat, Amsterdam

Detail of a map from 1882. Under the lens the location of the current Raadhuis­straat. In the middle the Warmoes­gracht — the block marked LL is where the S-curve would come, leading to the Rozen­gracht (to be filled in in 1890) near the Wester­markt.

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.

Warmoesgracht in 1890 before being filled in, seen from Singel to Herengracht

Warmoesgracht in 1890 before being filled in, seen from Singel to Heren­gracht.

Amsterdam 1896, Warmoesgracht filled in and demolotion of houses on the Herengracht

1896, the Warmoes­gracht already filled in and demolotion of houses on the Heren­gracht.

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.

Westerhal on the Westermarkt, Amsterdam, auround 1845

The Westerhal on the Wester­markt around 1845. Built in 1619 to house the civic guard, it became the weigh house (from 1808 until 1819) after the weigh house on Dam square had been demolished. The Wester­hal was itself torn down in 1857.

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.

Shopping arcade on the Raadhuisstraat, Amsterdam, around 1900

The Raadhuis­straat shopping arcade around 1900.

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.

Shopping arcade on the southern side of the Raadhuisstraat, Amsterdam

The shopping arcade on the southern side of the Raadhuis­straat now (in a rare quiet moment).

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.

Building De Zonnewijser, corner Raadhuisstraat and Herengracht, Amsterdam

Building the Zonne­wijser (former Catholic orphanage), on the corner of the Raadhuis­straat and Heren­gracht.

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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