Even though Amsterdam Centraal is relatively new there was a bridge where bridge 13 now stands before. From 1662, there was a bridge here in the extension of the Martelaarsgracht’s western quay that gave access to a city inn on the river IJ.
In the 1800’s, there were already plans for the Central Station, but implementation was delayed. Three bridges had to be built to the new Station Island. The numbering of the three bridges is fairly random. Bridge 13 is in the west, bridge 306 in the middle and bridge 285 in the east. The bridges were built by the state and management of these three bridges was transferred to the municipality in 1884. Iron beams were used for the construction, supported by stone abutments and cast-iron yokes. On top of these came a wooden deck and a paving of wooden blocks. Vincent van Gogh painted this bridge at least once but obviously not the version of the bridge you see today!
By 1902, the bridge already needed to be strengthened when the electric trams started to cross it. The bridge was also widened to 19.75 metres. In 1924, the bridge had to be rebuilt and in 1946, it was rebuilt again. In 1950, there were plans to tackle the bridge again, but postponed decisions on a planned city railway line threw a spanner in the works. It was not until the mid-1970s that the bridge was thoroughly renovated. A new bridge was built from the beginning of 1978 onwards, designed by Public Works bridge architect Dirk Sterenberg (the other two bridges were also renovated). He came up with an overall concept similar to that of his predecessor Piet Kramer. The bridge in Verbundträger construction (steel beams and reinforced concrete) had railings and lanterns designed by Sterenberg. A budget of 2,000,000 guilders was allocated for the bridge.
The bridge has two nicknames. Melkmarktsbrug’ refers to the milk market that was once located here, the name ‘Westelijke Toegangsbrug’ or ‘Western Access Bridge’ was in use by the staff of the Amsterdam tram. This was in conjunction with the ‘Central Access Bridge’ opposite the Damrak. Through these two bridges, the trams reached the Stationsplein. In 2016, the municipality removed all unofficial names. Since then, the bridge only has a number.
Architect: Dirk Sterenberg