|Official name||Niek Engelschmanbrug|
Bridge 106, Niek Engelschmanbrug, is a wide, fixed bridge that sits in the shadow of Amsterdam’s famous Westerkerk.
Designed by Piet Kramer and built in 1924, the bridge carries all types of traffic and forms part of the city’s main western thoroughfare.
An earlier bridge at this site, which was constructed in 1894, was part of a much larger project to create a continuous road leading to the centre of Amsterdam.
Raadhuisstraat (Town Hall Street) was created following the draining and filling of the Warmoesgracht – a small canal between Singel and Herengracht near the western end of the Royal Palace (formerly Amsterdam’s Town Hall).
Numerous residential properties along Spuistraat and between Herengracht and Keizersgracht were demolished to make way for a new, s-shaped boulevard, which wound its way to Rozengracht. Bridge 106 connects the two streets.
The below image from Amsterdam’s City Archives shows the original bridge during the early stages of its construction in 1894:
Although somewhat faded, the image shows the foundations of Bridge 106 being installed at the eastern end of the canal, directly opposite the Westerkerk. The majority of the buildings you can see here were subsequently demolished to make way for Raadhuisstraat.
Bridge 106 is dedicated to Niek Engelschman, a Dutch actor, gay activist and resistance fighter during the Second World War. Engelschman (alias ‘Bob Angelo’) was active in the struggle for the emancipation of homosexuals, and co-founded the Cultuur en Ontspanningscentrum (COC), an LGBT advocacy group.
The area surrounding Niek Engelschmanbrug remains an important site for Amsterdam’s LGBT community. 1987 saw the opening of the Homomonument, which symbolises the long road to gay emancipation in the Netherlands and abroad.
The monument’s three triangles of Rosa Porrino granite (a reference to the pink triangles homosexuals were forced to wear in Nazi concentration camps) represent the past, present and future. Designed by Karin Daan, it acts as a constant reminder of the prejudices faced by the LGBT community.
A sign at the site reads:
Commemorates All Women and Men Ever Oppressed and
Persecuted because of their homosexuality.
Supports the International Lesbian and Gay Movement in their
Struggle against Contempt, Discrimination and Oppression.
Demonstrates that we are Not Alone.
Calls for Permanent Vigilance.
Past, Present and Future are represented by the
3 Triangles on this Square, designed by Karin Daan, 1987.