Amsterdam: houses loom over a canal

The Looming Houses of Amsterdam

Why Do Houses in Amsterdam Lean Forward? What’s Up with Those Hooks?

The photo below shows something you’ve definitely noticed if you’ve ever been to Amsterdam: those old, narrow buildings loom out over the narrow streets, as if you were walking through a fashion-forward cartoon.

You’re not high– they’re really leaning. Well, maybe you are high, but the buildings are leaning as well.

The fronts of these narrow houses are purposely built to lean slightly forward. Look up and you’ll see a hook atop each house. The purpose behind the leaning and the hook is to help move furniture in and out of the upper floors. You cannot get a couch up those narrow Dutch stairs. It’s just not going to happen.

Instead, you attach a rope and hoist the couch (or dresser or fridge) up, using the hook for mechanical advantage. Now you know.

Amsterdam: houses loom over a canal

About Jordan

Jordan Matthew Yerman started writing during his third year of high school, where his teacher discouraged his use of the eff-word as "crude, unnecessary and uncouth". While attending UC San Diego for his degree in Political Science, Jordan picked up acting; he would later attend the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, living in the UK for four years before relocating to New York City. To get by, he has worked as a proofreader, model, technical consultant, HR trainer, sign-placer, sales director, crate stacker, bartender, photographer, real estate broker, and as an exhibit at the Bronx Museum. As an actor, Jordan has performed in the USA, England, Scotland, Germany, Belgium, and Netherlands, from stage to indie screen to voiceover, including London's West End. Jordan has been around the world 2 3/4 times. He currently lives in Vancouver and works in New Media; capital N, capital M. You can reach him via jordan at international jet trash dot com.

2 thoughts on “The Looming Houses of Amsterdam

  1. Hi, i’m new to this site, i’m from Pisa and apart from the Tower there’s several buildings unpurposedly leaning.. The reason is the terrain is composed of sand which tends to sink meanwhile the rudimental foundations remain steady on clay…. No big deal, there’s more than hooks and narrow staircases to visit here, -this season is particularly –fourmidable– …you can find a plethora of timeless uncanny towns and castles perched on top of hills defined against the sky, sorrounded by ancient town-walls, thick woods, gentle vineyards, fields, convents, palaces achurches and ancient buildings unequaled in beauty are everywhere, countless body waters expecially small rivers… all is marked by very romantic hues and ancient history heirloom. Furthermore, Appenninic and Alpine are terms par excellence originating from our vast mountain ranges from which the whole world is posing with concealed envy.

  2. I’ve heard the same thing about the homes here leaning forward, and all I can say is “poppycock”. “Pisa” has it right in that they lean because the soils are not solid. They lean forward towards the street, because the structure behind them won’t let them
    lean back. You will also notice some leaning to the sides where the lift theory would make no sense. The difficulty and danger of sloping a structure forward would never have been offset by the ease of pulling up a piece of furniture. Plus, the beams are cantilevered out plenty far to allow heavy pieces (especially those that will fit through the window) to be pulled up. Jordan, you are spreading urban myth.

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