Willemstad: Maritime Heritage. Dimitri Cloose

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1 Willemstad: Maritime Heritage Dimitri Cloose

2 "In the middle of Willemstad, runs the St. Anna Bay canal, which opens into a whimsical, large harbor area, named Schottegat. There is a pedestrian bridge resting on pontoons and a motorized vehicle bridge high over the bay. On either side of St. Anna Bay are the historic districts, Punda and Otrobanda.

3 Elemental > Willemstad was built around St. Anna Bay and Schottegat; > The role of the port and the development of Willemstad are inextricably linked with each other. The one can not be seen and/or understood without the other; > Despite the natural water barriers of the St. Anna Bay, Waaigat and Rif Water inlets, there has always been a vivid connection between the Punda and Otrobanda, as the Scharloo and Pietermaai districts, creating a societal unity.

4 Definitions of an island: > A body of land surrounded by water; > An area that is isolated or stands alone. An island is only accessible by water (or air) The area to come ashore has direct relations with the land activities, mostly trade and human interactions. Historic ports are birthplaces of community development.

5 Definitions of a port: > A city, town, or other place where ships load or unload, with maritime facilities and a waterfront district; > A place along a coast in which ships may take refuge from storms (harbor or safe haven); > A port of entry, where persons and merchandise are allowed to pass into and out of a country; > A geographical area that forms a harbor.

6 Character > A port has to do with logistics and transport chains, adding value to a system, and is not just a transferring point between different modes of transport; > A port has a function and needs infrastructural support to comply with this function; > The development of most ports has been intertwined with that of a city. The port is the central dynamic force and organizing principle of the city, and the city depends on the port for a large part of the city employment and income.

7

8 St. Anna Bay > Canal that connects the Caribbean Sea with the Schottegat; > St. Anna Bay was the port; > The fortifications and walled city at the Punda side were build directly in connection with the maritime activities, as the ships moored on the Northeastern side of the port. Willemstad is a good harbour to heave down in, as there is neither sea nor swell.

9 Schottegat > Known as the St. Anna Bay Lagoon, a sheltered inlet with smaller bays; > The inlet played a minor maritime role in the pre-industrial era, but has a rich cultural historical function as a pre- Columbian site, plantation area, slave depot and anchorage for ships with gun power and ammunition; > With the arrival of the refinery, the Schottegat took over the main maritime activities.

10 Waaigat / Rif Area Waaigat, the Eastern inlet of the St. Anna Bay: > The water area used to be much larger, reaching all the way to the Pietermaai small and the Cathedral to Scharloo. Rif area, the Western inlet of the St. Anna Bay: > The inlet used to reach almost all the way to the Piscadera inlet, as certain areas where used as salt pans; > Both areas have been filled up over the years.

11 Pre-Colombian Period > There was a vivid commuting with the mainland and the islands based on barter trade and fishery; > The native village El pueblo de Santa Ana was situated Northeastern end of the Schottegat; > Mooring of piraguas or cayucos ; > In these times, the bays and inlets never had a function as a port or gateway.

12 Spanish Period > 1499, the Spanish took possession on the island; > Isla Inútel because no precious metals were to be found; > 1525, the Spanish started exporting some agriculture (wood) and a cattle farming ranch; > The Spanish Waters with the St. Barbara canal that became the Spaniards main port.

13 West India Company > 1634, Dutch West India Company (WIC) took over Curaçao and setup their main quarters at the northeastern end of the Schottegat, where there were to fresh water wells; > The Dutch started to exploit the only available resource, the geographic location of the island and its natural harbor; > First building activities focuses on defending the island by building a fortress on the Southeastern Point (Punda); > Curaçao gradually transformed from a military base into a transshipment center.

14 Means of Trade > The Dutch used the port of Curaçao as a base for raids and privateering on enemy territories and ships; > 1657, the first slave ship "de Bontekoe" entered the port of Curaçao with 191 Africans onboard; > 1665, the island developed into a slave depot with a regular stream of slave ships calling on the St. Anna Bay; > 1674, Willemstad became a free-port, after the lifting of the 1 st WIC, and staple market for a variety of goods from cocoa to tobacco and indigo to dry goods, slaves and ammunition.

15 Harsh Times > In the 18th century Curaçao trade position was declining; > The (illegal) trade in Venezuela and other Spanish colonies was prevented by the Spanish Crown; > The English and French influence became increasingly stronger in the Caribbean; > Curaçao was not suitable for large-scale cultivation of tropical plantation crops to increase export; > 1791, the discontinuation of the 2 nd WIC.

16 Transition > The era of independence wars in the Americas stagnated regular commerce and Curaçao needed to attract trade; > 1827, Willemstad declared free port with no taxes or duties; > 1940 s, start of a gradual revival as shipbuilding prospered; > The introduction of steam navigation, as Willemstad developed into coal bunkering port; > The port areas and activities shifted more and more towards the Schottegat along the quays of the St. Anna Bay.

17 Oil on Waves > 1914, the arrival of the Shell oil refinery initiated a new era; > 1926, 1 st floating dock for ship repairs that ultimately let to the excavation of the huge Antillia grave dock in 1970; > During the World War II, 85% of the fuel for the Allied forces was refined on Curaçao and Aruba; > 1974, the opening of the Curaçao Oil Terminal at Bullenbaai the 1 st oil transshipment terminal in the Caribbean region; > The port and maritime activities shifted into the Schottegat.

18 Recent > 1981, the existing port administration merged into a new identity, the Curaçao Ports Authority, with the main task to commercially manage of all the ports of the island; > 1984, the establishment of the Curaçao Port Services, as stevedoring and operator of the container terminal; > 1999, the 1 st megapier outside the Willemstad port, adjacent to the Riffort, leading to the construction of a 2 nd megapier; > Gradually the focus on maritime developments are outside of the Willemstad port.

19 UNESCO The people of the Netherlands established a trading settlement at a fine natural harbour on the Caribbean island of Curaçao in The town developed continuously over the following centuries. The modern town consists of several distinct historic districts whose architecture reflects not only European urban-planning concepts but also styles from the Netherlands and from the Spanish and Portuguese colonial towns with which Willemstad engaged in trade."

20 Future Curacao owes its existence, however meager, wholly to trade > The development of Curacao, in its broadest meaning, is in separately connected with the maritime heritage of the island. Even, if the shipping activities will shift to other harbors, Willemstad will always keep its port city character; > The future of the island will eventually be related to logistical chains and means of transport, as we are an island and will always be surrounded by sea.

21 Dimitri Cloose Director National Archaeological Anthropological Memory Management Johan van Walbeeckplein 13 Willemstad, Curaçao Tel: Fax: Website:

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