The story of my Amsterdam Canal House Singel 224 is fictional. In fact,  there is no number 224 on the real Singel as the numbers on the canal jump from 214 to 236.  Apparently there once was a house at that address, I found a photo of it in the Amsterdam archives 12 years ago.  I have not found out why the address no longer exists. 

Even though the address doesn't actually exist, I do like to use real historical elements to create a background story.   So, lately I have been researching some of the history of the area around Singel 224 through paintings, old maps and photos.  This is a long post and I'm afraid not very interesting for many of you…

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The Singel Canal was dug in 1428 and 1450.  For more than 150 years the canal formed the western border of the city.In the 17th century the country experienced enormous growth in trade, science and art, and  Amsterdam started expanding hugely.  The animation below shows just how much it grew.

The story of my Canal House Singel 224 starts when it was built in 1638.  It is located very near the city centre and close to where all the main trading is taking place in the city.  Not much is known about the house and its owner at that time, but it is safe to assume that it was built for and owned by a wealthy tradesman.  The location on the canal would make it easy to transport goods from the harbor to the house and vice versa. 

Ten years after the canal house was built,  work was started on the new City Hall of Amsterdam. It was to be a magnificent building, showing the wealth and importance of the city.  The new City Hall is only a stone's throw away from Singel 224.

Building the new City Hall on the Dam in Amsterdam.  The building in the foreground is the Weigh House, where trade goods were weighed to ensure honest trade and proper taxation. Painting by Jacob van der Ulft, 1636-1667 (collection of the Amsterdam Museum).

Goods were transported by boat on the river and the canals.  The Weigh House opposite the City Hall was an important trade center.  Singel 224 is only a few minutes' walk away from this busy market square. Painting by Jan van Kessel.

The City Hall seen from the Dam Square with the Nieuwe Kerk (New Church) to its right.  Brisk trading is going on in the foreground.  Painting by Gerrit  Berckheyde in 1673.

The City Hall seen from the Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal.  It looks like there is a plant sale or flower market on the left bank.  Painting by Gerrit Berckheyde, 1686.