1897: A new century was beckoning, an industrial revolution was rageing, factories were shooting up everywhere. In Amsterdam the first brick was layed for the Pumping Station. Ever since 1851, the Dune-water company had provided the people of Amsterdam with fresh drinking water from the dunes at Vogelenzang. Through 23 kilometers of cast iron piping, it was pumped into the city where it could be bought outside the Willemspoort at one cent per bucket. Forseeing an imminent increase in water- consumption (in which case the capacity of Vogelenzang would prove insufficient), manager J. van Hasselt had plans drawn up for a new pumping station in Amsterdam. In 1897, construction was started, and as early as 1900, the Pumping Station Haarlemmerweg went into operation.
Behind the main building there were four underground reservoirs, each holding about 10,000 cubic metres of dune water. This water could be forced into the city through huge pipes in the cellar and the old watertower by four pumps in the engine room (now the restaurant). Initially these pumps were steam-powered, the boiler being housed in the octagonal building in front of the station, but in 1940, the Pumping Station went electric. Pumps now ran on electricity, supplied by the powercompany. Two large diesel engines replaced the old steam turbines, but were only used in case of serious or prolonged power failure.
The spectacular engine room was renowned and people from everywhere came to see it. In 1941, a technical magazine spoke of "a well filled, symmetrical engine room that made a grand impression on the visitor and could be considered to be a jewel for the city of Amsterdam." The Pumping Station was kept operational until 1996, when City Water Works moved to a new location just down the road on the Van Slingelandtstraat. This new station has its waterreservoirs above ground, but retains a more or less similar set-up: five (instead of four) pumps and two electric motors. The impressive white watertower was built in 1960 and is still in use. However, and contrary to popular believe, not to retain waterpressure (this is done by the pumps). Instead, this tweny meters high water-column serves as buffer (in case of pressure shocks) and water reserve.
In the eighties, when it became trendy to convert vacated and restored ninteenth century industrial buildings into museums, theaters, restaurants, studios, offices and appartments, Westerpark City Council decided that a restored Pumping Station was to become the heart of a new car-free eco-area built in the former watercompany grounds. And so, on december 20th, 1996, café-restaurant Amsterdam, situated in the old engine room, opened its doors to the public. The remaining space has been conferted into offices and a gym. When the new occupants moved in, they encountered an engine room so well-maintanied by its former employees that not even the fish decoration over the waterfountain needed repainting. Although old control panels and three pumps did have to make way for a kitchen, bars, tables and chairs, everything else was left intact. Of the two majestic diesel engines, one found a new home at the Energeticamuseum. (Sorry to tell you the museum closed in 2007, lack of money.) Its companion still stands where it has for the past sixty-odd years, waiting to be admired in all its glory by those who visit café-restaurant Amsterdam. Lighting is provided by twentytwo original floodlights from Amsterdam's two legendary soccerstadiums: the old Ajax-stadium and the Olympic Stadium.