Public health and hygiene

Early in the 20th century, the government considered public health and hygiene as one of its responsibilities. This was the reason that the Municipality of Amsterdam ordered the building of bathhouses around the city. A special municipal service was even created for this purpose: the Was (laundry)-, Schoonmaak (cleaning)-, Bad (bath)- en Zweminrichtingen (swimming) (services).


The bathhouse on the Javaplein

Extra storage space

Up till far into the 20th century, few homes in Amsterdam had a bathroom. Building regulations of 1933 made the building of bathrooms in all new houses compulsory. However, installing a water heater was not obligatory. The residents themselves had to provide hot water. Many people preferred to have extra storage space and used their bathrooms for this purpose. The demand for municipal bathhouses thus remained high. The use of public bathhouses reached its peak in the 1950s.


This photo is from 1982, the year that that the bathhouse closed definitively

Building in haste

The Indische Buurt (neighbourhood) on the reclaimed Overamstelse Polder was built in haste between 1900 and 1930. Amsterdam harbour attracted more labourers than the city was able to house. The raising of the polder was thus done in a great hurry. This had enormous consequences on the newer area of the neighbourhood to the south of the Insulindeweg (road) which was built between 1920 and 1930. The ground was unable to sufficiently harden and this resulted immediately in sinking.


Before being renovated for use as a restaurant, it served for a short time as a Hindu temple