ALBERT CUYP MARKET
Much has been sung and written about the Albert Cuyp market in De Pijp in Amsterdam. Over the years, it has turned into the best-known market of the Netherlands.
If you are visiting Amsterdam and want to enjoy the atmosphere of the city, you really should go to the Albert Cuyp market.
The Albert Cuypstraat is located at the same spot where the windmills of the wood traders used to be. The Zaagmolensloot must have been gorgeous. The ditch was filled between 1898 and 1900. The area was made suitable for building new houses. This was very necessary, given the explosive population growth of Amsterdam.
The quarter YY, currently known as De Pijp, was constructed in just a short period of time. The contractors were more worried about making profit than about making the future residents comfortable. They weren’t the poorest people, but also not the richest. Around 1900, small businessmen, craftsmen, low-ranking public servants, and students populated De Pijp. There was also some prostitution. And to suppress the gloominess, the alcohol flowed in abundance.
BEGINNING OF THE MARKET
It was only a matter of time before a market would be created. As of the beginning of the twentieth century, the people from Amsterdam had to buy their daily groceries at the market. There were also many hawkers, walking the streets with their handcarts, loudly selling their goods.
In the central, wide Albert Cuypstraat, hawkers began to assemble. At times, they attracted so much public, that traffic was hindered. They were chased by the police. This was the very first start of the Albert Cuyp market. In 1905, the municipality legalised the existing situation. First, the market could only be held on Saturday evenings. Later on, in 1912, the market was allowed on all business days.
MIGHT IS RIGHT
The life of a market vendor was very hard. They purchased their goods before the crack of dawn at the central market halls. Then they went to the Albert Cuyp, waiting for the starting signal. A police officer would blow a whistle. They had to run to the best spots. And if you got there first, you could stay there all day. At times, they pulled pranks on one another. They removed locking pins from wheels, so that the competitor would stumble. But there was also a sense of solidarity and they helped each other through tough times.
In the thirties, during the economic crisis, market vendors experienced abject poverty. During the German occupation, the Jews found it impossible to work at the Albert Cuyp and other markets. Almost a third of the market vendors were Jewish at the Albert Cuyp market, but almost none of them returned. This left a deep scar. The market lost its sense of humour.
In the sixties and seventies, the Albert Cuyp became more than a neighbourhood market. The market became known for the colourful, exotic trade goods and the many international customers. And the rich people from Amsterdam also began to do their shopping there. The ladies from Oud-Zuid drove their cars onto the market. That was still allowed back then. A remarkable difference with the ‘regular’ crowd is that the rich people pinch their pennies a lot more.
The Albert Cuyp has known good and bad times. Why is this market so different from other markets in Amsterdam? The diversity of the assortment, or also the atmosphere? Poor and rich, young and old, native and immigrant; they all meet each other there. After more than a century, the Albert Cuyp is a sight that should not be missed!