Grote Markt

Source: Collectie Overijssel

This is the fifth, and for now, final installment in my series of glass negatives from my hometown Zwolle. Previous installments can be found here: Diezerpoortendam, Luttekestraat, Voorstraat, and Diezerstraat.

This image is part of a series of at least 4 photographs made by the same unknown photographer, and taken on the same day sometime in early 1901. When you spend this much time on the details of an image, you start noticing things, like certain people that appear in all the photographs, making it clear that they must have followed the photographer around to witness the spectacle. See if you can spot them.

This particular scene is of the Grote Markt, or “Grand Market”, which is the central square of Zwolle. It’s where markets where held for centuries (and still are, twice a week), where historic events were celebrated, where public executions used to take place, and where people still meet up with their neighbors for a drink and to catch up on the latest gossip.

Looming prominently in the background is the iconic belltower of the Church of Our Lady, known as the Peperbus (“pepper shaker”). Its clock indicates that it’s just after one o’clock in the afternoon, and looking at the crowd of young people in the foreground, some of whom are carrying note books, it would seem that school has just let out for the day.

The man in white on the left is most likely a butcher, carrying his wares in a covered tin platter.

Other notable buildings in this picture are, of course, the massive Saint Michael’s Church on the left, and attached in front of it, a building called the Hoofdwacht (“main watch”) which over the years has been home to a police station, a visitor information center, and recently, a restaurant and bar. Similarly, on the left, the building called De Harmonie was constructed as a local society headquarters in 1828, and has been in use as a public house ever since.

To the left of De Harmonie is a liquor store, called De Drie Flesjes (“the three bottles”, visible above the doorway.) The guys seated in front of De Harmonie look like they’re potential customers, or more likely, just looking for employment offers.

Also visible is a horse drawn trolley. Up until the early 1920, this trolley was a convenient way to get from the train station and the river ferry to the center of town, and from there to a steampowered tram that would take people to Dedemsvaart, in the heart of the surrounding peat country. The advent of cars and buses spelled the end of the trolley. For the record, I do not know what color the trolley cars were—as much as I aim for historical accuracy, sometimes one just has to make an executive creative decision.

There really is a horse there; all but its left ear obscured by the man walking in front of it.

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