Industrial monument, Joep van Lieshout, 1993
Until the seventeenth century the Rietlanden were a barely inaccessible natural area outside the city where thatching was gathered for Amsterdam roofs. The physical and economic growth of the city and the location’s scarcity of buildings made it possible to transform it into an industrial zone: first came the windmills for the shipping industry, followed from the end of the nineteenth century by the construction of the railway line that turned the area into a modern industrial one. These filthy and noisy factories were the first to lead to a separation between residential and industrial zones. There were many metal factories in the Cruquius area that manufactured locomotives, material for the railway and other items. These heavy materials were transported over a network of narrow-gauge rails built to carry goods wagons. The Second World War spelled disaster for the industrial zones. The docks could no longer accommodate large vessels and shipping companies went out of business at the end of the colonial era. The firms in the Cruquius area suffered from the wartime economic crisis and industry disappeared more and more from the city.
When the district was converted into a residential area it was decided to leave as much as possible of the industrial architecture intact. Former warehouses were transformed into apartments, studios and offices. There was still a stretch of track with a goods wagon in the middle of the site. Joep van Lieshout left it there as an ode to the industrial era. Trees were planted nearby and the old foreman’s house was restored. Van Lieshout has a reputation for his expressive, big and colourful work, but this time he turned history itself into a work of art, the monument of a changing city. Since 2013 the tiny foreman’s cabin has been turned into Museum Perron Oost, where exhibitions and events are organised connected with stories about the neighbourhood that are inspired by a history of coming and going in the Cruquius area.