Why the Eastern Entrance?
At the end of the 19th century there were strong differences of opinion regarding the placement of the Central Station. The central government thought the harbour was the most suitable location, but the Amsterdam authorities disagreed, because this would cut off the city from the harbour, and so from the source of its prosperity.In 1869 the government led by Johan Rudolph Thorbecke decided that the station should be constructed in the middle of the River IJ, which at the time was still open water. Three artificial islands were created, with the railway line running above them. The Central Station was built on the middle island between 1881 and 1889. To keep Amsterdam accessible from the water, passageways for shipping were made at three points in the railway, so creating the Eastern Entrance, the Western Entrance and the entrance to the Korte Prinsengracht canal next to the Haarlemmer Houttuinen. This was a great technical achievement for the time.As time went on, ships became bigger, and the entrances lost their function. The Eastern Entrance is now completely closed to shipping.
Photo: Jacob Olie.
Meaning of the lion statues
The three railway viaducts were decorated with 22 life-size statues of lions. Lions with the city coats of arms watched over Amsterdam’s shipping interests, while lions with the national coats of arms guarded the national asset of the railway. It is tempting to see the lions with their coats of arms as symbolising the acrimonious dispute between the city and the central government over the location of the Central Station.
Photo: 1891-Jacob Olie
Where are the lions now?
All the lions were removed when the railway line was modernised. The last four were moved to the Beatrixpark around 1969. The Genootschap Leeuwen van het CS (‘Fellowship of the Central Station Lions’) has tracked down the current location of fifteen of the lions (see www.leeuwencs.nl). But the search for the remaining seven lions continues…