Paleis voor Volksvlijt

Frederiksplein, ooit
Cornelis Outshoorn
J.C. Polak - Van 't Kruys, Het Paleis voor Volksvlijt, Amsterdam, 1991; Emile Wennekes, Het Paleis voor Volksvlijt, 'Edele uiting eener stoute gedachte', Den Haag, 1999. Zie voor meer informatie over dit gebouw ook de rubriek 'Typisch Amsterdams' op

Former glass palace in Frederiksplein (destroyed by fire/demolished)

In 1853, the Vereeniging voor Volksvlijt (society for national industry), whose initiator was the visionary physician Samuel Sarphati, submitted an application to Amsterdam city council for the construction of an exhibition building. This Paleis voor Volksvlijt was, according to the historian Theo van Thijn, to be ‘the most spectacular project’ to be realized in nineteenth-century Amsterdam. The architect Cornelis Outshoorn produced a design which, at a cursory glance, displays similarities with the Crystal Palace in London. Both buildings were colossal structures incorporating large quantities of cast iron and glass.

Characteristic of Sarphati’s visionary spirit was the fact that he projected the Paleis voor Volksvlijt in a much bigger scheme: a ‘city extension plan for the redevelopment and beautification of the surroundings of the Paleis voor Volksvlijt, the banks of the Amstel etc, etc. This city extension will transform Amsterdam into a true and worthy capital of the Netherlands’, according to this ‘Amsterdam Haussmann’. Amstel Hotel and the city district De Pijp were part of this plan.

The Paleis voor Volksvlijt opened in 1864. For 65 years it played an important part in the social and cultural life of the capital. In the nineteenth century, emphasis was placed on the (performing) arts and entertainment. As a result, the Palace changed from an exhibition building into a centre for entertainment, a ‘people’s palace’, whose large theatre alone could accommodate some nine thousand visitors every evening. In the 1880s, a magnificent arcade housing fashionable shops was built, to a design by the architect Adolf van Gendt, in part of the palace garden.

One night in the spring of 1929, the Palace caught fire. Only the arcade survived, but this was demolished in 1961. The new headquarters of the Nederlandsche Bank was built roughly on the site of the former palace garden. It was completed in 1968. In the summer of 2002, enthusiastic admirers of the lost Palace founded a society for its reconstruction and use.

(source: Stichting tot herbouw en exploitatie van het voormalige Paleis voor Volksvlijt,