The oldest profession in the free city: a history of the red light district in Amsterdam

On the eve of the 30th anniversary of the legalization of prostitution in Holland in the network of surfaced historical photos of the red-light district, showing the life of the city and “sex workers” as they are called in Amsterdam, in the late XIX — early XX century.

The oldest and the largest of all the blocks together forming a red-light district in the quarter De Wallen has architecture typical of Amsterdam and of the XIV century. It consists of a network of alleys containing approximately three hundred one-room cabins with Windows rented by prostitutes who offer their sexual services behind a window or glass door, typically illuminated with red light.

In the XIV century on these streets, women from the Windows of houses touted a passing men — mostly sailors. To distinguish the house where you can knock on in search of carnal love, on the door hung a red lantern. Hence the name of the quarter, which subsequently became a household name.

The photo with the title “Queen streets”, taken around 1900, shows sex workers in long dresses on the sidewalk. Prostitution was legalized in Amsterdam by the French after the occupation in 1811, after which it remained legal for over 100 years.

Behind the curtains: the photo of 1919 — the floating bed one of the workers quarter. The picture was taken to highlight poor working conditions of sex workers after the prostitution became illegal in 1911.

“Portrait of an unknown prostitute”, taken around 1890. At that time in Amsterdam was opened and lawfully operated some 70 public houses.

Located near the port, De Wallen has historically been the quarter, attracting ladies of the night in Amsterdam, while prostitution for a long time and was beyond the law: the Church believed extramarital sex is a sin. After 1810 the country was occupied by Napoleon, the ban on prostitution was lifted.

As the main clientele were French soldiers, the sex industry had to start to adjust — especially to introduce a mandatory medical examination for workers quarters to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases in the army.

All this is just business: advertising poster of a brothel “the House of Weinthal” — one of the most prestigious at that time, institutions that had, among other amenities, a winter garden and a salon.

And is the founder of the aforementioned brothel Madame Weinthal (full name is hard to pronounce Jurjentje Aukes Rauwerda). She founded the institution had a “staff” of more than two hundred workers and was located within walking distance from the Royal Palace. According to rumors, she and king William III was illegally born child.

Two women, accompanied by a pimp, sitting on the street waiting for customers, in 1905.

Bloedstraat, or “blood street” in 1929.

Today, this street is famous because of her work mainly transgender — presumably, hence the solitude.

Family walks has not been canceled: the scene from the Grotto-Houtstraat, located near the red light district in 1894, when the industry trade of sex was in full swing.

The grotto-Houtstraat today: cafes, coffee shops and food shops around the corner from the red light district.

Old Church square in the red light district in 1894 — just a few years before the violent protests and campaigns for the criminalization of prostitution.

This same area today: old Church gets on next to sin.

The house on the back street Varmos in 1905. After the criminalization of prostitution in this state said not one building.

The oldest area of Amsterdam, Odesits, circa 1890.

Street Varmos — 1900.

Channels: part of the district is De Wallen. Recently, the city government adopted a new law under which tourists in this quarter will be fined if they blatantly stare at women, and just indecent behave including a noisy drinking alcohol that the streets of the district are not uncommon.

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