The history of The Slaak Rotterdam started a few centuries ago. This cultural heritage is interwoven with the most influential Dutch architects and a disastrous bombing during the Second World War, followed by the reconstruction of the city in the 1950s. With two newspapers located at our exact location, freedom of expression, press and individuality have always been central.
The small bridge, also known as De Oostpoort, was the starting point of the Slaak or Slaakkade canal.
The Slaakkade was not yet filled. Did you know that Slaak or Slac also means “calm”? This indicates the calmness of the water. A Slaak is the place where boats used to moor to wait until the storm was over.
The Slaakkade was filled in at the end of the nineteenth century. The name Slaakkade was changed to Gedempte Slaak, and later only Slaak. On the right of the photo you can see the tower of the ‘Forward’ building. It was designed by H.P. Berlage and housed various social-democratic institutions, including the eponymous newspaper. H.P. Berlage also designed the Berlage Beurs in Amsterdam as well as many other monumental buildings.
The building was irreparably damaged during the bombing on 14 May 1940. The center of Rotterdam was largely destroyed. It took the city of Rotterdam years to recover from this tragedy.
The Slaakhuys was designed by Jo Vegter for the newspaper Het Vrije Volk and is partly built on the remains of “Forward”. Publishing, editing and press rooms were located in this building until 1976. In 1991 the newspaper merged into the Rotterdams Dagblad, which today still exists as the Algemeen Dagblad. In 2010 Het Slaakhuys was placed on the list of monuments.
After the Second World War, Het Vrije Volk was closely linked to the socialist party PvdA. The number of subscribers increased dramatically within the first two years to more than 300,000. In 1956, Het Vrije Volk was also the largest national newspaper in the Netherlands. The number of subscribers decreased enormously in 1958, which was directly related to a shift within the cabinet from left to middle-right. In 1970 Het Vrije Volk left the office in Amsterdam and withdrew as a local newspaper for Rotterdam & surroundings. The latest edition of the newspaper appeared on March 30, 1991. In this year, Het Vrije Volk merged with the Rotterdams Nieuwsblad to form the Rotterdams Dagblad, which in 2005 merged with the still existing Algemeen Dagblad.
After having various functions such as a pool center an art gallery and being occupied by squatters, the Slaakhuys has been given a new purpose as a design boutique hotel The Slaak Rotterdam. The hotel will open its doors in 2019.