When we first moved here in 2010, the enormous station-area renovation “CU2030” was just underway. I had mistaken the slogan* to mean that the renewal would take 20 years and finish in 2030. When I understood the complexity of this undertaking that involved restructuring the largest indoor shopping mall and train station in the Netherlands, and re-digging the canal that had been repurposed for motorized traffic, I asked myself as many of you probably have: why would any city choose to completely destroy and rebuild a significant part of the city center? To disrupt commerce and traffic with construction for 20 years, they must have a damn good reason.
*As it turns out, most people misunderstood the city’s intentions on that information campaign. 030 is supposed to refer to Utrecht’s area code, as in: “see you too, 030”.
As I was learning the Dutch language and our new home, I would read the local newspapers on this subject with particular interest, noting all the various updates and changes planned. I was trying to piece together what it would look like, and how that would affect all the buildings around it. One of the newspapers I would pick up regularly is called De Oud Utrechter, and I read about the massive swaths of former quaint neighborhoods that were razed for the building of the Hoog Catharijne in the 60s. With this image, I realized, Utrecht has always been under construction, and it made me curious: “what did the old station look like anyway?”
Soon after, I started researching the matter online at Het Utrechts Archief for old pictures of the city’s past, and these pictures moved me to set my hand to creating my own illustrated booklet, telling the story of how Utrecht Central Station came to be what it is today.
If you can read Dutch, you’ll understand the average Utrechter’s raw anger at the destruction of their neighborhoods for the building of the HC. The cartoon illustration even implies they should go ahead and knock down the Dom while they’re at it.
I researched what it looked like before then, and then took another step back, and yet another step back to see how it has evolved over the years – all the way to the very first station in 1843 when the railways were new. The booklet is called “Utrecht Centraal: Illustrated Stories of Continuous Reconstruction through the Years” and will be published here as part of a short series documenting the evolution of Utrecht CS through the years.
Vollenga , D. (2013, April 22). Geschiedenis Stationsgebied. Centraal Utrecht hva [Web log]. Retrieved from: http://centraalutrechthva.blogspot.nl/2013/04/geschiedenis-stationsgebied.html
Lize, J. (2013). Klassenstrijd in Utrecht. Zeist: IsGeschiedenis.nl. Retrieved from:
“Utrecht Centraal: Illustrated Stories of Continuous Reconstruction through the Years” by Bethany Bartran, 2015
As part of a short series documenting the evolution of Utrecht CS through the years, local artist Bethany Bartran researched all the way to the very first station in 1843 when the railways were new – and created a mini-booklet called “Utrecht Centraal: Illustrated Stories of Continuous Reconstruction through the Years”.
A limited edition print is available for 5 euros per copy (A5 booklet). Available in Dutch or English. If interested, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org