10 June 2020
Finally, I was allowed to go to Utrecht again for work! It was only for one time, but I hadn’t been in my place of birth for almost two months. This had happened only once before in my life. You can’t imagine how happy I was to simply find my bicycle back in the world’s largest bicycle parking garage after that long a time. It really paid off to park it at a similar place every time. I didn’t have to look over all 12,500 places! After work I took the opportunity to cycle a bit through the city. Utrecht is changing so much and so fast that I was really surprised at some locations. One of which was on the Zeedijk (Sea Dike). That had been closed off for about five years and that was now reopened as a cycle street (Fietsstraat) with a surface of red asphalt and where cycling has priority.
If you know the location of Utrecht – in the middle of the Netherlands – the name Sea Dike may seem strange. It wasn’t so strange before the 1930s, before Lake IJssel was closed with a dam. Until that Enclosing dam did what its name implies: close the Zuiderzee, the tide of that sea was noticeable in the river Vecht. The street runs on a dike on the shore of the Vecht, hence this name. The street is much older than you might think. It can be found just outside the walled historic city centre, but this was in fact Utrecht’s first suburb which got its own wall in the 1330s. At the time Utrecht (like any other city) mostly had wooden buildings. This area became the location for businesses that were a fire hazard. If there would have been a fire in one of the workshops in this suburb, the whole city would not be endangered. An early example of zoning. The area remained industrial for many centuries, but it has now become a residential area. Best known were a silk factory (1681-1816), a timber factory (1851-2009) and an industrial bakery (1948-2004). Of the latter the main building has been repurposed. The office has become a restaurant and the former bakery hall will become housing. The name of the bakery, Lubro, was originally on a different building of the factory, next to this one, but that name will come back in the same type of letters as before.