A brief history of Utrecht Centraal station

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Part 1: Utrecht Central Station in 1843

The first train station in Utrecht was opened in 1843. Constructed in the popular neo-classical style for the second steam rail line in The Netherlands. Originally called the “Dutch Rhine Railway – Station” or NRS-Station for short.

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Part 2: Utrecht Central Station in 1859

In 1859 the NRS-Station acquired wings but outgrew the expansion by 1863 and an annex was built a few meters north of the Leidsche Rijn. The NCS Neighborhood Station was accessible via a pedestrian bridge. Additionally, for local lines a second annex was added in 1868 called the SS (City Rail) Station was built between two existing rail lines and was only reachable via tunnel.

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Part 3: Utrecht Central Station in 1916

After another expansion in 1909, it was renamed to “Utrecht Central Station”. The first electric trams were added in 1906 that originally served a “ring line” along the canals, which encircled the inner city. At its’ peak, 6 tramlines were in use when they were eventually removed in favor a city bus system in 1939. 

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Part 4: Utrecht Central Station Birdseye view

This birdseye view shows the current station with the original location indicated with a star. Currently the building site of the future Noordgebouw.

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Part 5: Utrecht Central Station in 1939

In 1936, Sybold van Ravesteyn redesigned the station, this time in the then-modern Art Nouveau style. After a fire in 1939, a sculpture of a phoenix was placed symbolically on the roof above the main entrance. One of these sculptures was subsequently moved to the Vredenburgplein where it perches above the Tivoli today.

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Part 6: Utrecht Central Station in 1973

The Art Nouveau station’s hall remained in use until 1975, pictured here on the far right of the illustration. The entire station’s area was demolished, including a few noteworthy monuments such as De Utrechter, to make space for the new concept office and shopping center, Hoog Catharijne. Despite huge protests, the new shopping mall enclosed Central Station’s main hall altogether and was no longer directly accessible from the street. A principal canal, the Catharijnesingel was drained and made into a car route through the city center. The massive Hoog Catharijne, designed in Brutalist style architecture, spanned the entire area from the Jaarbeurs Convention Center to the Vredenburgplein.

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Part 7: Utrecht Central Station in 2015

All too soon, Hoog Catharijne began showing its’ age and stated falling into disrepair. There were also plenty of complaints about it being a notoriously popular hangout for junkies and homeless. Now the area is once again, “under construction” and is being reconceived and rebuilt from the ground up to a modern transit hub. This includes a separate and clear entrance to the Central Station hall and the newly reimagined and updated Hoog Catharijne as separate entities, redigging the Catharijnesingel and Leidsche Rijn canals for recreational boat traffic, and the world’s largest bicycle parking housing some 12,500 bikes.