© Cor Snabel
Almost all every day's activity was performed on the street, so it must
have been a sociable excitement of yelling, singing and arguing. In the
early days cattle, like chicken and pigs were found in the streets and
even in the houses. Most streets did not have pavement, so these animals
found their food in the mud and between the remainders of the
marketplace. In about 1500 the City Council restricted cattle within the
city walls, except for the Sint Anthony – and the Sint Cornelis pigs,
property of two convents. The citizens fed these pigs and the meat was
distributed among the poor each year.
Markets were very characteristic and dominant in Amsterdam, first of all
the fish market. In the food range of the Dutch, fish has always been
important. But Amsterdam did not only have four fish markets, but also a
special market for cheese and butter, one for wood, for peat, for straw,
for pipes, for cattle, flowers, vegetables and many more. The street
names still indicate where these markets were.
Most of the people lived on the streets during the daytime, especially
the children. When they could walk, the boys were allowed to play in the
street, girls had to play in or near the house, on the doorstep.
The games they played and the toys they used did not change a lot
throughout the centuries, although in this age of computer games, our
children or grandchildren hardly play these games anymore. But many of
us remember our marbles, stilts and kites. Like the children in the 17th
century we played tag, blindman’s buff and hopscotch, skipping rope,
bounceball or hide and seek. They too played with a hoop and with a top.
I found one game I did not know, “pulling cobbles”, The young rascals
took a peace of leather, cut it into a circle, made a little hole in the
middle, attached a rope to it and if the leather was wetted, they had
created a sucker cup. The pavement in Amsterdam was in general
cobblestone, so with their sucker cup they could pull cobbles out of the
pavement. This game made them very unpopular with the authorities.