Opposite the Central station was build in 1889 a hotel to accomodate the passengers arriving by train in Amsterdam. The history of this hotel was very remarkable. During the second half of the nineteenth century Amsterdam was changing a lot.

After a period of decline the city got a new boost because of the development of new techniques like the arrival of the train and new industrial developments. This was called the ‘second Golden Age’. The first ‘Golden Age’ being the period in the seventeenth century where you saw an economical boost because of the money that was made in the trade of spices, slaves and other economical activities.

Coming back to the nineteenth century a number of new hotels were built in the city. One of the most prominent being the American Hotel at the Leidseplein.

A german architect , called Johann Friedrich Henkenhaf, had a vision of a new hotel close to the newly built Central Station ( which was finished in 1889) that received passengers coming into Amsterdam. A very good location. There was only one problem. A complete row of houses had to be torn down to make space for this new hotel!

Henkenhaf offered a sum of money to the inhabitants of these houses so that they could leave. There was only one problem. One of the inhabitants, he was acting as a representative for another inhabitant, did not accept the sum of money Henkenhaf offered. Even negotiations between them could not solve this problem. So at a certain point Henkenhaf decided to build his hotel with these two houses still standing. The hotel opened its doors in 1890.

And this is still the situation until today! If you look close at he Victoria Hotel you can see the hotel which was build around these two houses. In the 20th century two major extensions of the hotel were made. During the excavations they found foundations of a medieval chapel and several houses.

In 1999 a fiction book called ‘Publieke werken’, by Thomas Roosenboom, was published in the Netherlands.This book was translated in various languages like for instance German (Neue Zeiten), Danish and Hungarian. A movie with the same name, directed by Joram Lürsen, came out in 2015. The book and the movie were both great successes.

Amsterdam, 14th of August 2018


– d’ Ailly’s Historische gids van Amsterdam, Gerrit Vermeer en Ben Rebel, Amsterdam publishers 2000.

-Publieke werken, Thomas Roosenboom, Querido, Amsterdam 2018

-Geschiedenis van Amsterdam, 1578-1650 (part II-1), W.T.M. Frijhoff (Editor), M. Prak (Editor), M. Carasso-Kok (Editor) Sun, Amsterdam 2004

Geschiedenis van Amsterdam, 1650-1813 (part II-2), W.T.M. Frijhoff (Editor), M. Prak (Editor), M. Carasso-Kok (Editor), Sun, Amsterdam 2005