Amsterdam canal boats? Monuments?
AMSTERDAM _ The city of Amsterdam is considering to designate some of the hundreds of house boats lining its canals as historic monuments. Candidates for that honor must be at least 30 years old, be truly authentic and fit seamlessly in the canal environment. There are thousands of house boats on waterways lacing Dutch cities. Amsterdam is en route to be the first city to formally recognize some as historic monuments.
Dutch house boats come in a riot of sizes and designs, ranging from gorgeous to unmitigated eye-sores. Some tell a story. De Dogger, for instance, (above) is a dilapidated affair that would benefit from lots of maintenance and more than one lick of paint. It dates back to 1865 and its working life has hauled fresh water and coal into the city.
The first historical house boat debates have begun, They focus on De Dogger, but also the Liève (left), a French-built house boat that has long been a bone of contention. While generally seen as an authentic craft, critics say it is far too big for the Prinsengracht where it is moored and therefore does not fit well into Amsterdam’s urban landscape.
A serious candidate for monument status is De Wiekslag which dates from 1925. To many it is a textbook example of an authentic house boat. Another one, De Nieuwe Gerrit (below), is a unique case: it looks like an inland cargo vessel but was actually built as a house boat. It cannot sail at all, but nicely matches the city of Amsterdam’s monument criteria.
There is nothing faddish about houseboats on the canals of Amsterdam. The first city records referring to house boats date back to 1652. Living on a house boat today is not cheap because of the limited number of moorings in Amsterdam.
Today, some 2,400 families live on a boat in the Dutch capital. In total, the Netherlands boasts 10,000 house boat moorings. In Amsterdam, efforts by the city to get a firmer grip on house boaters has in the past fed fierce debates on such issues as towing away illegal house boats or raising berth fees. Tourists can get a taste of house boat living by booking rooms on house boat hotels.