Ons Leiden

Jori Zijlmans

Everyone who visits Jori is welcomed by her dog, Koos, who gets going whenever the doorbell sounds. Jori has lived in the Noorderkwartier for two years. Thanks to her job of sixteen years as a History curator at Museum De Lakenhal, she knows a lot about Leiden. But is knowledge about the city’s history the same as really knowing the city?

‘‘The history of Leiden is still tangible.’’

“I always thought I knew the city well, but living here has really made a difference. At the museum, we focus on the history of Leiden, and as a curator, my main interest is Leiden in the seventeenth and nineteenth century. The cloth industry flourished in the seventeenth century, making Leiden the second city in the Netherlands. The nineteenth century was all about the wool blankets that were made and traded here. What’s more, Leiden became a cosmopolitan city thanks to its university. The history of Leiden is tangible, even today. There is a lot of historical awareness among local residents, who are proud of the city’s history – thanks in part to Leidens Ontzet (the liberation of Leiden).”

Standing in her doorway, Jori points to the facades of the houses. There are diamonds carved into the stone facades, a round frame with old windows, and you can spot an old skylight protruding somewhere.  Across the street is a corner house with a small white balcony. She notices it all.

She used to live in the countryside and would commute to work; now she lives close by. “I’m part of the city now, and never want to leave. When I moved here I would often walk around the neighbourhood. It must have been a very modern neighbourhood for the first people living here. They worked at the gas factory. Back then, people would usually walk to work, so living close by was practical. They could probably hear the factory bell ring in the morning.”

“These streets have been through many transitions over the past hundred years. The factory workers made way for migrants, who moved to newer houses. Then came the students and property developers. My street is full of students. Project developers buy up houses and turn them into student accommodation.”

“Looking at the housing shortage in the city, it’s not a great development, but I do love the character and energy that the students bring. There was a young couple – expats from Mumbai – further up the street. Their house has been empty for a while. Further along the street, there are some houses with older residents who have been here for ages. I’m not entirely sure, but I’d like to find out.”

“These streets have been through many transitions over the past hundred years.”


We Are Leiden wordt
ondersteund door:
Gemeente Leiden

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We Are Leiden gebruikt verhalen die leven in de stad en haar wijken en geeft deze een podium. Het motto ‘mensen verbinden, verhalen maken’ staat bij ons centraal en zal dan ook altijd in onze projecten terug te vinden zijn.