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Jordaan’s living past

Het Levend Verleden van de Jordaan

Autobiografie van een zich vernieuwende stadswijk

Gerard Lutke Meijer

Europese Bibliotheek, 1984

Meijer interviewed some 40, mostly very old, Jordanians/Jordanians about the past of their famous neighbourhood. You get the impression of an idyllic community full of happy and grumpy people. The street theatre was dominated by Perlée family barrel organs, children’s circus Elleboog, convivial drunks like De Schele and De Suikermop, the equally convivial cops Zwik-Zwak and Sisk de Bromneus, and stalls like that of The Apostles where you could buy hot pears. The only dissonance was the youth gang De Rooie Heuvels, but oh well, those boys actually belonged there too. In the memories of almost all interviewees, there is no trace of the former misery and grimness.


In The Jordan’s Living Past, the young generation also gets to speak. Sociologically, the gain is enormous. In this “autobiography of a renewing city district”, in addition to the realistic picture of a fiercely turbulent past, we find the unmistakable dynamics of our own time, which is also the dynamics of the entire city of Amsterdam. One finds in this book the lines, along which both will develop: the Jordaan’s own life and Amsterdam’s own life. What one also finds in it – and that almost on every page – is the love for one’s own city district and its residents with their completely unique character, the closed pattern of narrow streets and the intact silent canals, and the touch-me-not of the true Jordanian lifestyle.