View from the Bank, roof terrace Rembrandtplein, former Amsterdamsche Bank

This sunday, it was raining a bit more but just to give you an impression, here are two videos of the view form the roof terrace of the former Amsterdamsche Bank (now The Bank). Best weather and film quality can be found on this youtube clip:

And here is this weekends, mobile phone footage:

To close off with a link to the Parool-fotoseries.


Quote by W.M. Westerman on dynamics of competition between big banks...

In 1920, publication occurred of the second edition of a dissertation on the concentration in the Dutch bank sector. It was written by Mr W.M. Westerman, the son of a renowned Rotterdam banker. And there is a quote about competition between big banks, which is so apt and accurate, that I am providing the Dutch and English version below. It can be found on page 147 and says that:
... in most cases of increased bank capital one can find official arguments related to liquidity or considerations with respect to the tier 1-ratio. Yet, the suspicion is justified that in most cases the continuation of the balance of power between the big banks and the urge of each bank board to increase its own remit of power, will have played a significant role. It is not possible to show examples of this from practice, due to the nature of the argument, but it can be considered a given that this argument cannot be rebutted.

Essentially we see here a very true argument from close to the inside. This is the son of a big banker from the 1920s who states that copy-behaviour and the desire to imitate, balance the power base between big banks and do what the other bankers do, can in quite some cases be more relevant than more rational considerations of return on investment. Evidence can be found in a wide variety of mergers and bank behaviour ever since (including the credit-crisis, I would say). And in my opinion this is one very important psychological factor that helps understand the shaping of the bank industry.

Now here's the Dutch text, great fun because it's written so eloquently:
Duidelijk waarneembaar is het psychologisch moment ook bij kapitaalsuitbreidingen. Ofschoon meestentijds voorgesteld en verdedigd met een beroep op de ontoereikendheid der liquide middelen of op het bereikt zijn van eener zekere verhouding tusschen eigen kapitaal en vreemde gelden, is het vermoeden gewettigd, dat de handhaving van het machtsevenwicht tusschen de grootbanken resp. de neiging van iedere bankdirectie om het eigen machtsgebied te vergrooten, bij het merendeel der uitbreidingen een niet onbeduidende rol hebben gespeeld. Uit den aard der zaak is het niet mogelijk dit aan de hand van voorbeelden uit de praktijk toe te lichten, maar dat de bewering in haar algemeenheid niet voor tegenspraak vatbaar is, mag wel als vaststaande worden beschouwd.

25th Open Monument Day celebrated in Amsterdam

Today I joined the opening of the 25th Open Monument Day in Amsterdam at the Westergasfabriek. There was a nice interview setting with Dutch tv-host: Matthijs van Nieuwkerk and all sorts of formal officials, leading up to the opening itself. And it was all very well organised awith the band (Bruut !) playing solid as well. So many cheers for all that.

The icing on the cake however was the tour to De Waag. I had the pleasure of visiting de Waag in one of the special rooms: de Chirurgijnenkamer. The anatomic theather. Which was the place where the medics at some point in time opened up bodies of deceased criminals in a small theatre setting (people could buy tickets and come watch). I listened to a brief but very clear and inspiring presentation by Jacqueline de Graauw who has done research into the older history of the Waag (the full article is just published in KNOB Bulletin).

Important findings of her research are that while from an inscription in the building it might appear that 1488 is the year in which de Waag (former Anthonispoort) was built, it is actually older. And close inspection of archives as well as the building itself reveals that de St Anthonispoort probably dates from 1462 or earlier, with a later addition in 1488. For example, if you really take a close look at the St Eloystower on the south side you can see battlements, being filled with masonry in bricks.

As the pouring rain prevented us from closely inspecting the towers and outside, I'll be back there again one of these days to have a look in detail.


Augmented reality for tours through a city...

Technology allows us to do beautiful things. Amongst others to stand with your Ipad or smartphone on a certain spot in the city and then look into the past by means of pictures or 3D virtual images. One very nice example, using the domplein can be found here on the weblab site. You can stand at the domplein and look around as if in earlier years.

It's a bit the trick of the retronaut that I am also pulling at this website, every now and then. Say that I am walking near the Biesboschstraat in Amsterdam. About here:

Then I go to a site: historicplaces.com or something like that and that pulls out the image of that GPS-position of older days:

It's a very powerful tool and of course additional local information could be added to the image. Such as this site that describes that in 1947 many kids lived and played in the streets.

I think there's room for a whole (historic-Ipad) industry that helps people look at the city as it was in older days. I noticed that the city of Amersfoort has already done quite a good job at it (click here). And as we speak I think the Amsterdam Museum is experimenting or designing such a tour for kids. So this will undoubtedly be continued.....


Some more news on the headoffice of Amsterdamsche Bank on Rembrandtsplein

These days I have been chatting with some friends and former colleagues about the head-office of the AMRO-Bank (first: Amsterdamsche Bank) on the Rembrandtsplein. See also the former post. These chats were about the usage of the head-office.

When Amsterdamsche Bank merged with Rotterdamsche Bank, the two former head offices were both called main-bank (hoofdbank). So there was a hoofdbank Amsterdam and hoofdbank Rotterdam. The board of AMRO resided in the office at the Rembrandtsplein, until 1987 when they moved to the South-East part of Amsterdam. And from that moment on, the directors premises in the buildings remained unused. People sometimes were taken up with the special board-members elevator in the Parking, to the directors floor. And the reason that the floor wasn't used, was because it was considered inappropriate for personnel other than directors to re-use the former board-room floors/offices.

So then, in 1990 ABN and AMRO were merging to become ABN AMRO bank. But both of the two banks wished their headquarters to become the headoffice of the new merger bank ABN AMRO. But as they didn't give in, a compromise was found by re-using the former office floors of the AMRO-Bank at the Rembrandtsplein. And when in due time, the decision was made to build a fully new head office at the South-side of Amsterdam (Zuidas), the board could then agree to move the headoffice of ABN AMRO to the AMRO building in South-East Amsterdam (Bijlmer).