“Pleasure near the Port: Spaces and Legacies of Notorious Entertainment Culture in 20th-Century Rotterdam” by Vincent Baptist

In the foreground of the painting is a carousel. A child with a flag of the Netherlands sitting on a white carousel horse stands out. Other people are sitting on a red elephant, a lion or standing on a boat swing. On the left, a carousel organ can be seen in the background. On the right edge of the picture is a river or canal with a ship in the distance. A kissing couple is lying on a lounger at the water's edge. Behind two trees, the faint sun can be seen in the cloudy sky. In the middle of the picture is a larger crowd of people, behind them is a small tent with a crescent moon on top. On the horizon, a few buildings are silhouetted.
Painting by Dolf Henkes, of a fairground with carousel along the quay of (presumably) Katendrecht, 1961. Museum Rotterdam, 91214.

Vincent Baptist’s PhD research centers on the following questions: How did spaces of notorious entertainment develop and disappear in the port city of Rotterdam over the course of the long 20th century? And how can the legacies of Rotterdam’s pleasurescapes be linked to current practices of urbanization in the port city, such as gentrification and touristification? Three pleasurescapes are investigated in particular, namely Zandstraatbuurt, Schiedamsedijk and Katendrecht, which respectively succeeded each other in Rotterdam throughout the period 1880-1975. Focusing on combinations of spatial and experiential aspects, as propagated by the new ‘pleasurescape’-term, case studies on these pleasure districts are conducted by linking each of the neighborhoods to certain experiential themes (nostalgia, safety, gentrification) and different types of cultural sources (literary, visual, oral). Ultimately, the three neighborhoods are also further linked together through an overarching analysis of the residential displacement patterns and unrealized planning projects that arose in the wake of Rotterdam’s discontinued amusement offers.

Map depicting the Zandstraatbuurt‘s prospective replacement by a new city hall and post office building, 1912-1913
Map depicting the Zandstraatbuurt‘s prospective replacement by a new city hall and post office building, 1912-1913. Rotterdam City Archives, 4001-II-15-01-02.
The black and white photograph shows a busy street. The photo is taken from about the height of the second floor, the street runs exactly in the line of sight. Numerous garlands and flags span the street. Two tram tracks run down the middle, many cyclists and a horse-drawn vehicle are in the street. In the foreground a few chairs can be seen, which looks like a terrace of a café.
Photo overlooking a decorated Schiedamsedijk during a VVV festivity week, 1935. Rotterdam City Archives, 4261-2002-1588.