Monday 2 May 2016

History of De 9 Straatjes Amsterdam

The 9 Streets is a collective name given to the nine cosy and picturesque shopping streets in the Unesco Heritage listed Amsterdam Canal Belt. These nine little streets run between Raadhuisstraat and Leidsestraat, just a few minutes walk from the Royal Palace at the Dam Square. This little district with its small monumental shops forms a charming neighborhood with a great, bustling atmosphere.

Amsterdam and the rest of the world

“The whole world is built around Amsterdam” the famous Dutch poet Joost van den Vondel wrote in the seventeenth century. This century – being the Dutch Golden Age – was to Amsterdam an unprecedented period of prosperity. People from all over Europe came to the city for trading business or to build up a new decent living. Soon, the old town center became too small, so an extension was inevitable and this is when they designed the Canal Belt, for the necessary expansion of the city.

Around the old Medieval town center, three new main canals were dug out: Herengracht (Gentlemen’s Canal), Keizersgracht (Emperor’s Canal) and Prinsengracht (Princes’ Canal). The main canals where connected by cross canals and cross streets, which gave De 9 Straatjes its current structure, in the first half of the 17th century. From the very beginning these little cross streets were dominated by trade and culture. And still, after 400 years, it is a lively neighborhood with artisanal businesses, special restaurants and bars, galleries and a unique variety of small, specialized and authentic shops.

From the artisanal of leatherworking to the most fascinating shopping area of Amsterdam

An example of a product made of bearskin: a bearskin cap worn by European Grenadiers in the 17th centuryThe names of the streets remind us of the old artisans dealing with all kinds of skins for the leather-industry. From the Huidenstraat (Skins Street), Berenstraat (Bears Street), Wolvenstraat (Wolves Street), Hartenstraat (Hearts Street) tot de Runstraat (-) en Reestraat (Deer Street), and the three alleys on the side of the canal the Singel: de Wijde Heisteeg, Gasthuismolensteeg and the Oude Spiegelstraat. The area offers a magnificent overview of the architectural style within the Amsterdam Canal Belt.

At the beginning of the nineties, entrepreneurs like Djoeke Wessing were the driving forces behind the origin and the name De 9 Straatjes. In her store Art Deco in the Huidenstraat, she noticed that there were some charming connecting streets between the main canals, but that there wasn’t a lot of connection between the shop owners of these streets. She decided that this could improve and made an amazing effort that resulted in the association De 9 Straatjes. Now a days De 9 Straatjes is the most unique and fascinating shopping area in Amsterdam.