Ms Schipper is extremely proud, “proud as punch” of her home. She looks out over the brightly coloured tubes of the library from her apartment in the Blaak Tower – the striking building beside Blaak station, also known as the Pencil.
The oldest part of Rotterdam
In 1975 she moved to Rotterdam and took a room in the Oude Westen. At the time the neighbourhood was in steep decline. One morning the house caught fire, and during her search for a new home she came across this house. Although it was much more expensive than a room, it was the cheapest apartment in the whole building. She liked it, and still does. Now she’s lived here longer than almost anyone else since its completion in 1984. She depends on public transport, and that couldn’t be better here, with Blaak Station just a stone’s throw away. “You embark and disembark right outside my door.” It’s actually perfect to live in the city centre as you get older, because everything is nearby. And, she likes to point out, she lives in the oldest part of Rotterdam: “close to the spot where Erasmus was born, and close to the dam that the city its name.”
She was always crazy about Rotterdam. In her younger days she lived in Strijen, and although Dordrecht was nearer, people went shopping in Rotterdam. That was always fantastic. The Lijnbaan had just opened, with the finest shops. And the Bijenkorf! That was such a splendid shop. “Wonderful, fantastic, fantastic.” Back then she didn’t go on holidays but stayed with her aunts, who had a hat shop and came to Rotterdam to buy hats. They scoured the whole city, even going to the Groothandelsgebouw, in search of hats. She was allowed to stay up late and spent the whole evening talking about Rotterdam.
She was allowed to stay up late and spent the whole evening talking about Rotterdam.
One big mess
She loves the bustle of the city, a strong contrast with the village where she grew up. By the age of eighteen she’d had enough. Here in the city she likes to visit Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, or the Bijenkorf. Donner bookshop, another place you couldn’t do without. And she cycles a lot, even to the Luxor or Schouwburg theatres, and to the swimming pool. She loves biking through the city on an early summer’s morning. That’s when the Roteb cleaners are busy sweeping the whole city, because “it’s one big mess after the late night crowd”.
“it’s one big mess after the late night crowd”
Blaak is a lively place too. The striking architecture of Piet Blom draws “Japanese by the busload”. And there’s a hotel and a hostel here in the neighbourhood too. It is a pity that there’s so little maintenance carried out on the Pencil any more. No more money. When the Cube Dwellings were 25 years old, there was a big party beneath the buildings. Piet Blom’s children were there too. Ms Schipper seized the opportunity to tell the architect’s daughter how fine it was to live here. The daughter was moved to tears.
- The story of
- Mevrouw Schipper