Living in the Jordaan
The Jordaan, where it all started.
The Centre of Amsterdam
The History of the Jordaan
The Jordaan was built during the large expansion in 1612 located in the West of the Grachtengordel (main canal belt), as a district for the working class and emigrants. The street pattern was based on old ditches and paths. That is why it differs entirely from the rest of the old city centre. The objective was fulfilled reasonably up to the 19th century, with an increase of population caused by a stream of political refugees (Spanish and Portuguese Jews, French Huguenots).
In 1900 there lived about 80.000 people in the area, which was starting to turn into a poor district with small houses and slums caused by impoverishment of the population.
The most common explanation for the name Jordaan is, that the word has been derived from the French: jardin (garden). French immigrants might have called the district Jardin, because most of the streets are named after trees and flowers. Other theories say that the name has been inspired by the river Jordaan, the well-known water from the holy land or that the Prinsengracht canal was once nicknamed Jordaan.
The Jordaan today
After the World War II a large renovation project was started by the city council, developing several plans to reorganise and repair the neighbourhood without damaging it's original character. By then the district was discovered by a new generation occupants: artists, students and young entrepreneurs.
Partly by these new inhabitants the Jordaan has changed from a slum area to one of the most expensive, upscale locations in the Netherlands. Many houses in the Jordaan have a stone tablet on their facade, a stone sign displaying the profession or family sign of the inhabitants. The first stone tablet was made in the 16th century.
Nowadays the Jordaan is an oasis of peace with a labyrinth of narrow streets and little canals, nice for strolling around courtyards, art studios, and monumental buildings with stone tablets, old-fashioned ‘brown’ pubs, boutiques or galleries. The area is easy to reach by tram 13, 14 and 17 and within walking distance to Central Station.