Time Travel: Wittevrouwenstraat

Witte Vrouwenstraat 1947
This is an area I know very well, so it’s particularly interesting to me to see how it used to look. In this case, the photo dates back to 1947. It’s not that long ago, but it still amazes me to see the horses being used to pull carts. Not surprising are the bicycles and bakfietsen.

As you can see, it really hasn’t changed much at all in the past 60+ years. Other than the addition of the steet signals and the absence of trams, things have remained pretty much unchanged.

This is an important part of the old city center. Since the middle ages, it has been one of only four entrances into the city center and it used to have a protective gate right at this spot where the bridge is. If it’s not clear, there’s a canal running beneath the bridge. That canal is part of what is essentially a moat that goes around the old city center. The gate was eventually torn down in 1858. This is also where the Canadian forces entered the city when they liberated it from the German forces at the end of World War II.

Here’s another image of the same area and you can see that the buildings further down the street have also remained the same over the years.
Witte Vrouwenpoort
Here’s a better contemporary view down the street without all of the signal lights in the way. You can better see just how little this corner of the city has changed.

Wittevrouwen means white women and refers to the order of nuns (I assume it referred to them wearing white habits) who had a cloister in this area. Nowadays, the Utrecht brewery De Leckere sells a white bier with the name Wittevrouwen, drawing perfectly from the city’s history.

8 thoughts on “Time Travel: Wittevrouwenstraat

  1. For your remark concerning still seeing horses being used to pull carts in the 1947 picture, you have to remember that WW II only just ended two years earlier and there are still shortages, food and goods are still being rationed, there is hardly money for more modern means of transport. The recovery of the country’s economy is still in it’s infancy and looks at times it might never recover. The Marshall Plan is still a year away (1948 – 1952)

    Eh… sorry for the lecture

    • Ah, I did assume the horses were because of the economic shortages that soon after the war; I should have explained that. Thank you for pointing it out! The stories I’ve read and heard about how desperate things were break my heart. My amazement was more because I can’t imagine that area now with horses and carts. 😉

  2. Fantastic – I know this corner too – and it’s great to see that it hasn’t changed much though as you say, the older photos are not too old – for Utrecht, that is. It’s very interesting to get to know the city this way. Good job!

    • The photos really aren’t that old, are they! 1947 is practically yesterday, at least for Utrecht. It’s interesting looking at some of the older paintings of the city when things were different. I can find my street on some of the old maps, but I know I’d not recognize much if truly sent back in time!

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