Rotterdam’s New Waterway: The Iconification of an Infrastructure (1860-1947)

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The New Waterway (dug between 1863-1872) brought the port city region of Rotterdam unprecedented growth. Whereas it is a national engineering feat, the Waterway and its creator, Pieter Caland, were appropriated as icons of the progress of the city of Rotterdam by the start of the 20th century. In this paper, we analyze four examples of this iconification: the monument for Caland (1906), the Diorama of the Waterway for the World Expo in Antwerp (1930), and two theatrical plays (1941 and 1947) expressing the Waterway’s meaning during and after the Second World War. We argue that these esthetic and public expressions
are crucial elements in Rotterdam’s narrative of progress, modernism, and resilience. The symbolic meaning of the New Waterway transcended even the technological significance of port-related infrastructure. In that sense, the Waterway became a convincing metaphor of hope and economic development for a port-city region.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)77-94
Number of pages18
JournalEuropean Journal of Creative Practices in Cities and Landscapes
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2 Aug 2021

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Copyright (c) 2021 Hilde Sennema, Paul Th. Van de Laar

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