July 15, 2018
I am in Rotterdam for the North Sea Jazz Festival, held every year in the middle of July in Rotterdam. It is considered to be the largest indoor jazz festival in the world, and features a wide variety of jazz and world music. The festival used to be in The Hague, but since 2006 has been held in Rotterdam. The festival attracts several thousand musicians, spread out over 150 performances and fifteen different stages, with the number of daily visitors reaching 70,000.
The founder of the three-day festival was Paul Acket, a businessman and jazz lover who made a fortune in the 1960s with his pop magazine publishing company. When Acket sold his company in 1975, he was able to start and sponsor the North Sea Jazz Festival. The first edition of the festival took place in 1976, and featured Count Basie, Miles Davis, Billy Eckstine, Stan Getz, Dizzy Gillespie, Benny Goodman and Sarah Vaughan.
On the history of the city of Rotterdam. The settlement at the lower end of the Rotte stream dates from at least 900 CE. Around 1150, large floods in the area led to the construction of protective dikes and dams, including Schielands Hoge Zeedijk (“Schieland’s High Sea Dike”) along the northern banks of the present-day Nieuwe Maas. A dam on the Rotte was built in the 1260s and was located at the present-day Hoogstraat (“High Street”). In the mid 14th century, the Rotterdamse Schie shipping canal was completed, providing Rotterdam access to the larger towns in the north, allowing it to become a local trans-shipment centre between the Netherlands, England and Germany.
The completion of the Nieuwe Waterweg in 1872 created a tremendous impetus for growth for the city. The city and harbor started to expand on the south bank of the river. Evidence of this period of growth includes the Witte Huis skyscraper, the tallest office building in Europe at the time.
During World War I, Rotterdam was the world’s largest spy centre as a result of Dutch neutrality and its strategic location in between Great-Britain, Germany and German-occupied Belgium. Many spies who were arrested and executed in Britain were led by German secret agents operating from Rotterdam. MI6 had its main European office on de Boompjes, used as a base for coordinating espionage in Germany and occupied Belgium.
In World War II, the heart of Rotterdam was almost completely destroyed by the Luftwaffe. Some 80,000 civilians were made homeless and 900 were killed; a relatively low number due to the fact that many had fled the city because of the warfare and bombing going on in Rotterdam since the start of the invasion three days earlier.
Rotterdam was gradually rebuilt from the 1950s through to the 1970s. Innovative architectural styles were applied to the new apartments, office buildings and recreation facilities built in this time, resulting in a more livable city centre and new skyline. In the 1990s, the Kop van Zuid was built on the south bank of the river as a new business centre. Rotterdam was voted 2015 European City of the Year by the Academy of Urbanism.
Rotterdam has three Hogescholen (Universities of applied sciences), including the Hogeschool Rotterdam, Hogeschool Inholland and Hogeschool voor Muziek en Dans (university for music and dance), also known as CodArts. The Willem de Kooning Academy Rotterdam’s main art school, part of the Hogeschool Rotterdam, is regarded as one of the most prestigious art schools in the Netherlands.
(Narrative excerpted from Wikipedia)