Nieuwmarkt Riots

Bricks from the Nieuwmarkt, Utrecht (photo by Jikke de Gruijter)
Battle over the city (1975)

"This stone from the Nieuwmarkt Riots in Amsterdam in 1975 represents the forgotten uprising of Dutch society against the demolition of urban centres. The violent Nieuwmarkt Riots, or Metro Riots, grew out of discontent with the municipal plans for the demolition of houses in the historic centre of Amsterdam. These plans served ambitions of alderman Joop den Uyl to construct the Eastline metro, a four-lane motorway and the replacement of houses with tall office buildings. Tensions in the city mounted and culminated in the infamous ‘Battle over the City’ on March 24, 1975: a violent confrontation between protesters and the military and municipal police who tried to evacuate all houses around the Nieuwmarkt area.

The protests by a colourful coalition of conservationists, squatters and many others were successful and led to an immediate stop and revision of the original plans. This heralded a new era of urban renewal in which historic centres were preserved rather than demolished. Equally successful protests took place in Utrecht, Groningen and many other Dutch cities. This stone thus reminds us of the value of social movements for speaking up and pushing public officials to develop better and more desirable and inclusive images of the future.

Source: on loan from the International Institute for Urban Protest (IIUP).

Curated by: Jesse Hoffman, Astrid Mangnus & Peter Pelzer."

Text from the Mobility Museum 2050