This month we will be reaching a little further out of the inner rings of Amsterdam and visiting the Dapperstraat, the home of the infamous Dappermarkt in the East of the city.
The eastern neighbourhood of Amsterdam was built relatively recently, approximately around 1870. However its history can be traced to a period when, whilst the heart of Amsterdam boomed with the fruits of trade and colonisation, the east was just a stopover for those heading from the countryside to the city.
Next to the Dapperstraat at the end of the Commelinstraat there was an area called Roomtuintjes (Creamgardens). There farmers heading for Amsterdam who could not enter the city during night time would spend the night at a tavern. Poor farmers could only pay for the night with the milk provided by the cows they brought with them. This resulted in the owner of the tavern using this milk to produce cream products, something the region became famous for.
Just up the road from the Dapperstraat, Muiderpoort, a classical gate built in the 18th century, was the location of Napoleon’s entrance into the city in 1811. Napoleon’s influence in the architecture around the area is easy to recognise in the large imposing buildings used for military purposes across the Mauritskade.
Throughout the 18th century, the city centre was becoming overcrowded with working class people, who lived in growing poverty. To solve this issue the city council needed fast and cheap buildings in which to accommodate these families. Whether it was lack of money or care due to the status of the future residents, the further you moved from the centre, these new buildings showed increasingly poorer structural quality. Next to the harbour (in those days the harbour was next to the Scheepvaartmuseum/ Shipyard Museum) buildings were built so cost effectively that one building even collapsed during its construction, due to high levels of sand in the concrete mixture. In those days, all buildings carried a 4 layer structure, as building any higher could result in the structure sinking into the clay bottom underneath the ground.
The closest to the Troppenmuseum, which was inaugurated in the 1920’s, the better quality and more expensive the buildings were, and this can be seen when one looks away from the museum into Dapperstraat where most buildings have been demolished and rebuilt in the 1980’s.
In the beginning of the 20th Century, Dapperstraat was the heart of a working class area, where the hustle and bustle of its streets attracted small scale businessmen. These entrepreneurs, who hung around the streets selling merchandise of all kinds, sometimes as late as 11 pm became a nuisance to the neighbourhood That was when the city council decided to install what is today considered the best market in Amsterdam, the Dappermarkt.
A forgotten fact about the area is its historical relevance during the atrocities of WW2, when most of the Jewish community deported from Amsterdam would have been made to do so through the Muiderpoort railway station, at the end of Dappermarkt.
The street seems to have been named after the last name of a doctor, Dapper, however with the lack of documents proving his status as such, many think he was really just a charlatan. Not bad for a charlatan then, huh? Dapperstraat today has a rich, diverse character hardly found inside the inner rings of Amsterdam. The East, the home of the city’s multicultural and immigrant community really comes alive when experienced from the Dappermarkt. For 8 hours a day, 6 days a week one can mix with the locals, buy cheap fruit and veg and choose between a herring roll or a Surinamese snack.
Image: Beeldank Amsterdam
By UADC-BMD, Belangenvereniging Marktondernemers Dappermarkt.