Close to the city center and bordering on the water of the Oosterdok, wedged between the Lastage neighborhood and the former island Rapenburg (from 1593), is Waalseiland, an artificial island from around 1634, created during Amsterdam’s Third Expansion (Derde Uitleg). Waalseiland is dominated by the large Scheepvaarthuis from 1916 (Shipping House, now Grand Hotel Amrâth).
The quay on the IJ-side of the island was called Buitenkant (Outside) before 1879, now Prins Hendrikkade. The city side is still called Binnenkant (Inside). The quay bordering on Rapenburg is called Kalkmarkt (Chalk Market). The Buiten Bantammerstraat and Schippersstraat are traverse streets on the small island.
In the west, on the side of the Geldersekade, the wide Kraansluis connects Waalseiland to the city center and in the east the Kikkerbilsluis bridge connects to the island Rapenburg. The Waalseilandsgracht canal, on the Binnenkant side, has the Waalseiland bridge on Buiten Bantammerstraat towards Oude Waal (in Lastage area) and a bridge from Kalkmarkt to Montelbaanstoren. From Kikkerbilsluis bridge and Kalkmarkt you get an excellent view of Oudeschans and Montelbaanstoren.
History of Waalseiland
A “waal” was an inlet, formed when a dike was breached. In the 14th century the IJ-water breached the sea dikes in two places, forming small coves: the Oude Waal (in the east) and the Nieuwe Waal (in the west). They actually proved to be an economic advantage, forming two excellent natural ports. Long double rows of poles were constructed in the IJ water in 1610, to protect the ships from the movement of the waves while they were loading and unloading. Ships were anchored and repaired here during winter months. The current Kromme Waal and Oude Waal (Lastage) were once the quays of this natural harbor.
The dike breach from the 14th century was undone in the 17th century. The harbor silted up quickly and became unfit for larger vessels, so plans were made to make the middle part dry land in 1634, creating Waalseiland. The first lots were handed out in 1646. The city wanted Waalseiland to be a nice quiet spot for the well-to-do, unlike the busy bordering Lastage, Rapenburg, Uilenburg and Marken. The lots here went for double the price of lots on Rapenburg. Many residents here were in some way connected to shipping. The city profited nicely from the sales in this small area and copied this approach later during the Fourth Expansion (Vierde Uitleg), which completed the canal belt.
In 1879 (after the construction of the Central Station islands) this quay along the Oosterdok was named after Prince Hendrik (1820-1879), the brother of King Willem III. He was nicknamed Hendrik the Seafarer, because of his long career in the navy and his interest in commerce and shipping. His bronze bust was created by sculptor Franz Stracké (1820-1898). First placed near the Victoria Hotel in 1885, it was moved here in 1979.
The part of Prins Hendrikkade on Waalseiland runs from the Kraansluis bridge (near Kromme Waal) to Kalkmarkt near Oudeschans, roughly numbers 108 to 155. Until 1879 this stretch of the Prins Hendrikkade was called Buitenkant (Outside). Along this stretch of the Prins Hendrikkade there is a double quay, the lower quay side (lage kade) is part of the area Oosterdok West. It has many house boats moored on five piers in the water of the Oosterdok, a small world of its own.
Prins Hendrikkade 108 – Scheepvaarthuis (Hotel Amrâth)
The large building at Prins Hendrikkade 108 is Grand Hotel Amrâth, the former Scheepvaarthuis (Shipping House) from 1916, designed by architect Johan Melchior van der Meij, which was already discussed in an earlier blog post.
Prins Hendrikkade 126 – Gebouw Prins Hendrik
At Prins Hendrikkade 126 is an Art Nouveau building called Gebouw Prins Hendrik from 1909, a remodeling by architect H. van der Vijgh of a house from 1879, once offices, now apartments.
Prins Hendrikkade 131 – Michiel de Ruyter
Prins Hendrikkade 131 was where Dutch Admiral Michiel de Ruyter (1607-1676) lived with his wife and children, from 1655 until his death. The St. Olof’s Chapel at Zeedijk 2A still has a church bench which was reserved for him. He has an ornamental tomb grave in the Nieuwe Kerk since 1677.
Prins Hendrikkade 133 – Tritons
Prins Hendrikkade 133 is a house from 1727, remodeled around 1800. On top of the gable are two rather large tritons blowing on horns.
Prins Hendrikkade 142 – Zeemanshoop
Originally built for a wealthy tobacco merchant in 1728, this building was remodeled in Neo-Classicist style in 1828 by architect Tieleman Franciscus Suys (1783-1861), who also designed the Mozes and Aäron church on Waterlooplein. It then housed a foundation, founded in 1822 by a group of 18 merchant captains, both as a meeting place on the shore — their aim was to educate and to promote Dutch shipping — and also to support disabled seamen and the widows and orphans of drowned colleagues. Member captains promised 5% of their wages to the funds.
In 1863 Zeemanshoop moved to Dam square (corner Kalverstraat). Wealthy honorary members from various professions joined. When that Dam building was demolished in 1913 for the construction of Peek & Cloppenburg, the College moved quite a few times. Since 2008 they are located at Muntplein 10. In 1916 Zeemanshoop was one of the contributing founders of the Scheepvaartmuseum.
In 1931 the building at Prins Hendrikkade housed the Amsterdam department of the AJC (Arbeiders Jeugd Centrale) and the building was renamed Het Anker (The Anchor). In 1968 it became hippie youth center Fantasio, from 1969 until 1992 New Age Center De Kosmos. The Nationaal Pop Instituut was located here from 1998 until 2008. The building was renovated in 2012 and now houses De Appel Arts Center.
Prins Hendrikkade 155 – Swans & Castle
At Prins Hendrikkade 149 is a gable stone with swans and a castle on a house from 1916, the origin and meaning of the stone unknown.
Prins Hendrikkade 156 – Blauwe Druif (Blue Grape)
Prins Hendrikkade 155-156, Kalkmarkt 1-2 is a corner house from 1650 containing four houses under one roof, with a wooden lower front and a bunch of grapes above the door on the corner. The carved doors are from the 18th and 19th century. A bar around 1900, it now has Walls and Skin, with supplies for the tattoo and graffiti industry.
The Waalseilandsgracht (Waal Island Canal) is the broad canal between Waalseiland and the Lastage area west and south of it. It has three bridges crossing it (Kraansluis, Waalseilandbrug and Montelbaansbrug):
- Kraansluis (bridge 300), near the Scheepvaarthuis on Prins Hendrikkade.
- Waalseilandbrug (bridge 283), between Binnenkant on Waalseiland and Kromme Waal and Oude Waal on the Lastage.
- Montelbaansbrug (bridge 280), along Oudeschans, from Kalkmarkt to Montelbaanstoren.
- Kikkerbilsluis (bridge 279), across Oudeschans, connecting Waalseiland and Rapenburg.
The quay walls along the Waalseilandsgracht between the Waalseilandbrug and the Oudeschans were in a sorry state and in urgent need of renovation. Due to financial restraints and more urgent issues elsewhere the replacement is planned for 2027-2029. The city has placed concrete filled support pipes inside the quay walls and moved the house boats a bit further out for now. Storms in 2023 unfortunately toppled some of the large older trees here.
Kraansluis (bridge 300)
There has been a bridge here since at least 1657. The Kraansluis bridge across the Waalseilandsgracht was renewed and got sluice gates around 1682, as part of mayor Hudde’s plan for better water management in Amsterdam. They are still there today, hidden under a 40 m (131 ft) wide road. A plaque on the bridge wall commemorates the laying of the first stone. The name of the bridge, Kraansluis (Crane Lock), came from the two 83 ft high wooden ship cranes which stood at the IJ border here from 1643 to 1841, used to lift masts, stone blocks and canons. The cranes were demolished in 1841 because this part of the IJ had silted up too much for big ships.
The wooden drawbridge here was replaced in 1872 by a fixed one, reinforced a few times and widened in 1968 when the IJ-tunnel was constructed. It was temporarily on dry land and half demolished when the Waalseilandsgracht was partly filled in to build caissons for the metro. In 1987 the bridge was restored. Below the road are storage spaces.
Waalseilandbrug (bridge 283)
Since 2016 the official name of this bridge, across the Waalseilandsgracht between Oude Waal (Lastage) and Buiten Bantammerstraat, is bridge 238. It is unofficially known as Waalseilandbrug. It replaced an older one from 1862 with a drawbridge in the middle. Built in 1914, it was designed by Jo van der Mey, architect of the Scheepvaarthuis. The rather bulky design with triangular passages was heavily critized at the time.
The wrought iron lanterns on the bridge, adorned with iron seahorses, were likely designed by Piet Kramer. The bridge was restored after 1977, as the construction work here for the subway had caused damages. The bridge number is in wrought iron on the side below the lanterns.
Kikkerbilsluis (bridge 279)
The Kikkerbilsluis (Frog’s Leg Lock) is a bridge across Oudeschans on Prins Hendrikkade, connecting Waalseiland and Rapenburg. It got its name from a nearby lumber shop called The Frog’s Leg, which was here in the 17th century (a frog’s leg was a wooden tool used in ship building). First a wooden drawbridge, it was renewed in 1682 with a flood defence, later replaced by an iron one. In 1863 it still had a lock.
In 1940 the old bridge was replaced by the current lift bridge, designed by Piet Kramer (1881-1961), who designed around 150 bridges in Amsterdam. Note the misspelled name of the bridge on the balustrade, with a double s instead of one, probably done by an overenthusiastic stone mason. In 2015 a plaque from 1682 was reattached to the bridge, commemorating the laying of the first stone of the previous one.
Montelbaansbrug (Bridge 280)
The Montelbaansbrug (Mount Albans Bridge) connects Oudeschans to Kalkmarkt, crossing the Waalseilandsgracht. There has been a bridge here for centuries, at least since 1649, replaced multiple times, an iron drawbridge in 1856. Made into a fixed bridge in 1909, it was completely renovated in 2000.
In 2016 the city council decided to drop all unofficial names for bridges, indicating them officially only by their number. People of course continue to use the real names.
The northern quay called Binnenkant (Inside) of the Waalseilandsgracht was also the northern border of the old Jewish quarter, which had developed in Amsterdam during the late 16th century. Various naval officers who served under Admiral Michiel de Ruyter lived here in the 17th century. Before WW2 there were also many Jewish inhabitants.
Until the 20th century inhabitants of this street were mostly skippers, wood buyers, ammunition buyers and sail makers, as well as various merchants. The top floors of many buildings were used as a warehouse. Quite a few houses here date from the 17th century, many with remodeled fronts and gables according to 18th and 19th century fashion, with nice stone steps.
Binnenkant 12 is a house from the 17th century, remodeled end 18th century, miraculously spared when a planned extension of the Scheepvaarthuis did not happen. Binnenkant 13-16 are modern constructions, an extension of Hotel Amrâth from 2017. The large corner house at Binnenkant 17 and Buiten Bantammerstraat 15-21 from 1650 was remodeled early 19th century, the entrance is from the early 18th century. Architect A.L. van Gendt created new fronts in Dutch Neo-Renaissance style for numbers 19, 20, 23 and 25 in 1884 and 1886.
Binnenkant 26 is from the 17th century, remodeled in 1764, restored in 1963. Binnenkant 39 dates from 1868 and was designed by architect Bastiaan de Greef in Eclectic style for the former School for the Poor nr. 18 (360 pupils). The remodeling of Binnenkant 49 was done by H. Moen in 1885. Binnenkant 50 dates from around 1646 and was restored in 1971.
Binnenkant 51 is the annex of Kalkmarkt 13. A gable stone on the Binnenkant side shows a watership (clean drinking water from the river Vecht was transported to the city with vessels like this). The year on the stone shows 1592, so it must have come from elsewhere, since Waalseiland did not exist before 1634.
The Buiten Bantammerstraat (Outer Bantam Street) is named after Bantam, a province on the west side of the Indonesian island of Java, once the Dutch East Indies. The harbor in the town of Bantam was regularly visited by Portuguese, Chinese, English and Dutch seafarers. The ships of merchant Cornelis de Houtman, who led the first Dutch expedition to the East Indies, were unloaded in the Oude Waal harbor in 1597. The Bantammerstraat in the Lastage area was renamed to Binnen Bantammerstraat (Inner Bantam Street) after the Waalseiland had been built.
Schippersstraat (Skipper Street), between Binnenkant and Prins Hendrikkade, was once where many skippers lived. Captain Douwe Auckesz lived here, a Frisian sea captain for the Dutch East India Company (VOC), who fought with Admiral Michiel de Ruyter during the First Anglo-Dutch War (1652-1654). In June 1933 the Comité voor Joodsche Vluchtelingen (Comittee for Jewish Refugees) was located at Schippersstraat 7, when Hitler came to power in Germany and many Jewish refugees came to Holland.
At the Kalkmarkt (Chalk Market) all kinds of building materials (chalk, bricks, wall tiles, roof tiles) arrived by boat and were traded here until the end of the 18th century. The bricks here came mostly from Friesland province in the north. Before 1660 this market had been on both sides of the Singel, but it caused too much congestion there, so it was moved here.
At Kalkmarkt 1 is the Blauwe Druif, corner Prins Hendrikkade, already discussed above. Kalkmarkt 2 is the left part of the corner building at Kalkmarkt 1. It has a pothuis (well house) and through the window you can see a beautiful wooden stairs. Kalkmarkt 3 is from the first half of the 19th century and has a double entrance door. Kalkmarkt 3 and 4 share a double stone step. Kalkmarkt 4 was built in the 18th century. Kalkmarkt 5 in Neo-style dates from the second half of the 19th century. Kalkmarkt 6 is a house from around 1660 in Dutch Classicist style. Kalkmarkt 7 was built around 1646 for a brick buyer, completely redone in 1730 and fully restored in 1999.
Kalkmarkt 8 – Harbor Doctor
Kalkmarkt 8 is a house from around 1650, remodeled in 1738. The front has 3 modern gable stones (from 1990 and 1991), created for medical practitioner Voorsluis. A sign next to the door show that it’s a Medical Center for Seamen, the Amsterdam harbor doctor. The middle stone shows a steamship and says “I see sick seamen”). On the left stone a barrier on a country road and the words Principiis Obsta (prevent the beginning, meaning prevention is better than cure). Right a lock in a canal and the words Exonerat Et Arcet (discharge and protect). The images for the left and right stones were taken from the work Sinnepoppen from 1614 by Roemer Visscher (1547-1620), Dutch grain merchant and poet.
Kalkmarkt 9 is a Neo-Classicist house from 1887, designed by architect Y. Bijvoets, originally an office and home for a wine and liquor merchant. The first floor bay window is supported by lion heads. Kalkmarkt 10 is from the 4th quarter of the 18th century, restored in 2004. On the front it says “Magazijn van Lakens en Manufacturen, M.L. Vleeschhouwer” (Warehouse for Sheets & Textiles). Vleeschhouwer lived here with his wife in 1891.
The two narrow houses at Kalkmarkt 11 and 12 date from around 1650, were remodeled in the first half of the 19th century and restored in 1971, together with the corner house at Kalkmarkt 13 / Binnenkant 51. This corner house was a tobacconist in 1758 and from 1779 until around 1910 a bar.
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