Watergraafsmeer is a former district of the municipality of Amsterdam, which was merged with the Oost (East) district in 1998 to form the new Oost/Watergraafsmeer area. Before January 1st, 1921 it was an independent municipality with approximately 10.000 inhabitants.
Watergraafsmeer mainly compromises a polder, which was called "Watergraftsmeer" in former times. The polder has arisen in 1629 after draining the Diemermeer, which formed the connection between the Amstel and the Nieuwe Diep (the New Deep). On March 5th, 1651 however the dike between the Zuiderzee and the Nieuwe Diep, the Diemerzeedijk broke, whereupon also the polder dike broke and the Watergraafsmeer got flooded.
The next year the polder was again drained. Watergraafsmeer now belongs to one of the lowest parts of Amsterdam. In the 17th and 18th century many prosperous Amsterdammers built outdoor places in the Watergraafsmeer.
The most important alleys are the Middenweg and the Kruislaan (Middle street and Cross street), which divide the polder in four almost equal parts. In the 20th century also the Gooiseweg and the Ringweg Oost A10 (Ring highway East) have been constructed.
In the Watergraafsmeer the De Meer stadium of the Ajax football club was formerly located, The De Meer stadium had been in use up to 1996. The most famous player of Ajax, Johan Cruijff, grew up nearby in the surrounding Betondorp, a ward in the Watergraafsmeer which officially was called Tuindorp Watergraafsmeer. Also the author brothers Gerard Reve and Karel van ‘t Reve grew up in Betondorp.
Watergraafsmeer hosts many sport fields and municipal gardens, wherefore this part of Amsterdam still has preserved a green character. The ice skate track called the Jaap Edenbaan is located at the Kruislaan. Also the largest cemetery, the Nieuwe Oosterbegraafplaats lies in this polder.
Watergraafsmeer is divided by two track lines which run from Amsterdam to Utrecht (the Rhijnspoorweg, opened in 1843) and from Amsterdam to Zutphen (the Oosterspoorweg, opened in 1874).
Between 1881 and 1939 the Gooische steam tram or Gooische Moordenaar (Gooi Killer) was built, running from the Weesperpoortstation via the Middenweg through the Watergraafsmeer to Diemen and further to Muiden, Naarden, Laren and Hilversum. The building of the old steam tram remittance situated at the Middenweg still reminds of the good old times.
Since 1940 the tram line 9 has maintained the connection between the centre of Amsterdam and the Watergraafsmeer and in 1990 it was extended unto Diemen.
Since the end of the twenties a large scale construction project has been taking place. Some high buildings, firstly the Rembrandttoren, followed by the Breitnertoren and the Mondriaantoren arose at the western edge of the Watergraafsmeer. In the eastern part of the polder lies the Science park Amsterdam.