Flags fluttered from houses and buildings. The closer you got to Dijkzigt, the more festive the streets and squares became. You could see forests of masts with streamers in the colours of the country and city everywhere. Wherever you went, the Ahoy' man was there to greet you. The imposing entrance gateway in iron beams stands on Rochussenstraat, and in front of the exhibition building a forest of flags, streamers and assorted ribbons waved in the wind.
That’s how Rotterdam-Ahoy' speaks to the fantasy of the hundreds of thousands, from near and far, who want to learn about our city, its people, and its passion for work. And once again, Rotterdam-Ahoy' says to the country, its people and its government: “Here we are, Rotterdam-Ahoy'!”
Het Vrĳe Volk 15-6-1950
During the period of reconstruction, priority lay on revitalising the port and building homes. Little space or money was allocated for cultural amenities. To meet the demand for entertainment and leisure, a number of large-scale, temporary festivals were organised.
To meet the demand for entertainment and leisure, a number of large-scale, temporary festivals were organised.
In 1950, Ahoy’ was the first in a series of big events held every five years. It was followed by E55 in 1955, the Floriade in 1960, and C70 in 1970. To this day, Rotterdam is known for cultural events such as Poetry International, Film International, Dunja, Dance Parade and many more.
Originally, the idea was to stage a big exhibition to coincide with the opening of the Maas Tunnel, with as slogan ‘The water as friend and enemy’. Even though the war intervened, the big port exhibition was mounted in the end. Ahoy’, held in 1950, was intended to present the rebuilt port to the world. The chosen location was Museumpark and Het Park, so that there could be contact with the water. On display along Parkkade were a number of ship components, including a complete bridge house, a funnel and a mast. Visitors could also take a boat tour on the Spido and visit two ships.
Ahoy’, held in 1950, was intended to present the rebuilt port to the world.
The site was entered from Mathenesserlaan. The symbol of the exhibition was a fifteen-metre-tall steel sculpture. Placed behind Van Hoboken Villa (now the Museum of Natural History) was an old steel structure from the Nenijto exhibition, to which annexes were added, and renamed the Ahoy’ Hall. An elevated bridge took visitors across Westzeedijk to Het Park, the site of various kiosks and pavilions. A major attraction was the Oudt-Rotterdam pavilion, also open during the evening, which revived the atmosphere of pre-war Rotterdam. A public favourite was Johnny Ahoy’, a creation by well-known comedian and actor Johnny Kraaykamp. Organiser Jacob Kleiboer had appointed the architects Van den Broek and Bakema as supervisors, and they invited a host of young and unknown architects, artists and performers, such as Aldo van Eyck, Herman Haan, Gust, Romijn, Wally Elenbaas, Louis van Roode and Karel Appel.
A major attraction was the Oudt-Rotterdam pavilion, also open during the evening, which revived the atmosphere of pre-war Rotterdam.
Rotterdam Ahoy’ was opened by Queen Juliana on 15 June 1950 and drew in 1,650,000 visitors within six months. Het Vrije Volk produced a special edition of the newspaper that was written and printed on the festival grounds. A clay model of the sculpture Destroyed City by Ossip Zadkine attracted lots of attention. The closure of Oudt-Rotterdam, in Ahoy’ Park, was a ceremony in its own right. At about eight o’clock, a multi-coloured parade passed along Westzeedijk. All prominent Rotterdammers were enthroned on various vehicles, and the interest was almost as great later, when it could hardly pass through the narrow streets. Het Vrije Volk 11-9-1950
Johnny Ahoy’ Kraaykamp provided an unforgettable closing evening when he guided the thousands of visitors, who didn’t want to leave the exhibition grounds, to the exit like the Pied Piper of Hamelin.
Ahoy’ Sport Palace
The Ahoy’ Halls remained standing after the exhibition and were used for concerts, sports events, and all sorts of occasions, among them Jeugdland and E55, the second big reconstruction exhibition. It was only with the construction of the Medical Faculty in 1966 that the halls were dismantled and relocated. In 1970 Ahoy’ Sport Palace opened at Zuidplein. Its name recalls the 1950 event and earlier halls.
It was only with the construction of the Medical Faculty in 1966 that the halls were dismantled and relocated.
- Wytemaweg, Rotterdam, Nederland