RIP Sheriff

I woke to horrible news yesterday. A neighborhood icon, Sheriff the cat, had died. Even more tragic, his death came as the result of some vile person kicking him. The animal ambulance came, but there was too much internal bleeding to save him. The psychopath who kicked him has been arrested.

It’s hard to imagine the neighborhood without Sheriff. Although he called Café Tilt home, he could be found wandering throughout the immediate neighborhood and among the many bars and terraces. A friendly cat, he seemed to take his name seriously, often walking with us as we returned home, as if making sure we made it safely. Once we were in our house, he would then continue his patrols, vigilant, but often with a friendly meow.
Wittevrouwen Muur Kunst
He is one of the stars of a wall mural just off Wittevrouwenstraat behind Café Tilt, along with other icons of Utrecht. The mural is a nice reminder, but it will never make up for losing the real Sheriff. The loss has been felt by many, with outpourings of horror and grief throughout social media. He was such a frequent sight that losing him really does feel like losing one of my own beloved cats. It’s hard to believe we’ll never see his battered ears and beautiful black and white whiskers again.

Rest in peace, our dear friend.
My Hero!
SherrifSuperstar [Day 43/365]

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Time Travel: Driftbrug

Photo via Het Utrechts Archiefphoto via Het Utrechts Archief

This is just a quick post to show a bit of then and now and how little has changed in 100 years. This is a view of the Driftbrug, a bridge over the Drift canal. To the right, the street become Wittevrouwenstraat and to the left it becomes Voorstraat. Today, a number of the Utrecht University buildings line the street along the canal where the photo was taken, while expensive homes and various businesses line the canal in the distance. At that point, the canal becomes known as the Plompetorengracht.

Although the buildings have changed purpose since this photo was taken in 1908, the majority of them have remained roughly the same. That said, one of the unseen buildings on the left has changed quite a bit, as have the stairs leading down to the canal. It’s all a bit more crowded with signs, traffic lights, and of course, lots and lots of bikes, but it doesn’t take much imagination to see what it was like just over 100 years ago.

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.

A Garage By Any Other Name …

This one works as both an Utrecht Daily Photo and as a Different Donderdag entry. The original photo I took today wasn’t so hot, since it was taken with the camera phone on a very rainy, humid, dark day. Not the kind of weather that inspires an outing with the proper-ish camera. Instead, I found this older photo I’d taken, which shows it all off much nicer.

I pass these buildings on Wittevrouwenstraat on an almost daily basis. I’ve been inspired by them, as well, particularly the buildings with the curving rooftops. Yet there’s something about the Garage that I find so appealing, as well. Perhaps it’s the straightforward labeling, or the wagon-wheel-type window at the top. Regardless, it’s a building that always makes me smile. It’s also been a bit of a puzzlement for the past few months as the ground floor seemed to be turning into a second-hand shop, yet the shop never seems to be open. According to the sign in the window right now, it will be open on Saturday, at least.

As for why I thought of this to include in a Different Donderdag posting, it has to do with the building’s former purpose as an actual garage. One of the little differences is that in a downtown in the US, you probably will find working garages, but here in the Utrecht city center (the binnenstad, aka the original historic city center), you’d be hard-pressed to find a gas station/garage these days. They’re all on the outskirts now, probably for a variety of reasons, including beautification of the old city center.

In trying to find some information about this building, I came across a fantastic blog about the Ridderschapkwartier, which includes this part of town. I really wish my Dutch were better, because it seems like it has a lot of interesting information about this neighborhood. There’s a posting which mentions the Garage (and the buildings next to it) in relation to their former owners, a couple of prominent Dutch insurance families. You can read it here in the first entry (if your Dutch is good).

Foto Vrijdag 2.39 (A Day Late)

I went to Den Haag yesterday to meet up with friends, and in the process forgot that it was Friday and that I should post a photo. So here’s one last Film Festival photo, a day late. I didn’t take a ton of photos yesterday, but hopefully a few turned out decently. I’ll post them if they’re worth it.