EmbrACE Magazine

The Rotterdam Timemachine


As a student who recently just moved to Rotterdam and who has done her Bachelor’s in Utrecht, it was quite a big change to start living in the ‘only real city in the Netherlands’. Skylines with massive buildings and thousand of lights: those are definitely characteristics other cities do not possess. Rotterdam is also one of the ‘newest’ looking cities here in NL. No wonder: the city got bombarded during World War II which destroyed most of the inner-city. However, this was turned into something more positive, when in the period after the war, Rotterdam became an iconic city which rebuild and reconstructed their city-centre in a whole new, modern and functional way. When you analyze pictures from before and now, you can definitely see the big changes. That is why I decided discover Rotterdam’s visual though some research in the city archives. Ready to take a step back in time?

De Meent - 1927 vs. 2019

You most definitely know de meent, a popular street in the centre of Rotterdam. The word ‘meent’ comes from ‘gemeente’, which translates to ‘township’. The older picture was taken in 1927, when you could still see the historic buildings and the Sint Laurens Church in the background. Today, when we look from de Meent along the way of the street called the ‘Binnerotte’, going to the way of markthal, we can’t see the church anymore when standing on the street: there are now big apartment buildings. The area has been called ‘the open air museum of the reconstruction time after war’ because of the renovated and new buildings around the street. 

Het Witte Huis (The White House) - 1903 vs. 2019

Some things change, some things don’t. Het Witte Huis, or The White House translated to English. The building was built between 1897 and 1898 and was considered a skyscraper at that time. Besides: there was a rooftop terrace that could be reached by an elevator, which was very modern for that time too. It was intended as a office building for different companies to rent. The white house is one of the few building who survived the bombardement and is therefore listed in the top 100 of national monuments of the Netherlands. In 1977 the building was built by the firm ‘Westermeijer Group’ and since the 80’s its logo and the name of the firm were presented on the top roof of the White House. In 2018 these were removed because the firm went bankrupt. Today we can see the name of ‘Calex’, an atmospheric light company, literally taking the spotlight on top of the White House. 

Fancy more of ‘the Rotterdam Timemachine? Make sure you will get the next issue of EmbrACE coming December and find out more about the visual history of Rotterdam!