The Haags Gemeentearchief (the Hague City Council Archive) put up billboards around the city to celebrate their 125th Anniversary a few years ago and Himself and I made it my mission to try and photograph them all.
The Gemeente (Council) placed the billboards which depicted historical city photos as close as possible to where the photos had been originally taken and they made a page on their website (Dutch language only) that showed where their physical locations were etc. Sadly for some reason they appear to have deleted these web pages shortly after the billboards were removed.
This billboard depicts the “Nieuwe Kerk” (New Church) on the Spui in the centre of the Hague. Completed in 1656, Wikipedia tells us:
The church was designed by the architect Peter Noorwits, assisted by the painter and architect Bartholomeus van Bassen.
The church is considered a highlight of the early Protestant church architecture in the Netherlands. Like many churches of that time was the New Church, a central building.
Unlike other central building, the church is no simple circular or multifaceted plan but there is a space of two octagonal sections which are connected by a slightly smaller proportion in which the pulpit was prepared.
Two church bells by Coenraat Wegewaert in 1656 hang in their original bell-chairs, 100,2 cm and 81,5 cm in diameter.
Up until these canals in the Hague were filled in at the end of the 19th century, the church was accessed by boat or from the Wagenstraat on a square island between the Spui river, the St. Anthonisburgwal or Rotterdam Veerkade, the Stille Veerkade or Amsterdam Veerkade , and the Paviljoensgracht.
It’s interesting that in the photograph taken in 1900 that there are still canals close to the church, because many of the Hague’s inner city canals were removed at the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century due to better forms of transport becoming more readily available for commercial use and because various markets like the flower market and fruit and vegetable markets that had been the main users of the canal transport had moved out of the central city due to lack of space.
A map on the Wiki site that shows that the canal had disappeared from in front of the Nieuwe Kerk by 1905, so clearly the canal was removed in this location sometime between the dates of approx 1900 and 1905.
Some twenty years ago when I moved here I heard a story about this church: The story went that it was the architect Peter Noorwits first commission for a large and important building and that the engineers and stonemasons told him as the roof was being finished that they greatly feared that if the top were to be completed on the roof that the structure would collapse due to it’s unusual shape.
Noorwits was so despairing about this possibility that before the final pieces of the roof were put into place he threw himself off the top and died, never seeing it finished.
When I went to do research to verify this story I couldn’t find any information anywhere, so it’s possibly an urban legend and not true at all, but should the fateful tale be correct then the massive irony is that this building is still standing strong and beautiful 356 years later, testament to the strength of the architects original design.
The text on the billboard photo reads: “Turfmarkt hoek Spui, gezien naar de Nieuwe Kerk, met middenachter de St. Jacobstraat. Photo”C.J. de Gilde, circa 1900.” (Turf market corner of Spui, seen /view by the New Church at centre of the St. Jacob street)
Today, trams run up and down the space that used to be occupied by boat traffic… so I suppose the city has changed with the times, old transportation has been replaced with new transportation.
Maybe you could argue that since the use hasn’t changed that there is more similarity between the old and the new photo than is first apparent. One thing is for certain, if my great-grandparents could see this today they would surely be wondering where on earth the water had gone.