The west shore. (Portland, Or.) 1875-1891, June 01, 1886, Page 180, Image 12

Below is the OCR text representation for this newspapers page. It is also available as plain text as well as XML.

ANTWERP in an agreeable surprise to the stranger.
It U no sleepy, mediieval cathedral town, living
on the traditions of the past and the dollars of
dighuv.r, bnt n lire, nineteenth century city.
It has felt the electric touch of modern life, and has
commenced to vibrate iu harmony with the march of
progress. It is a busy city everybody hard at work in
store or mart or street New streets, new wharves, new
public buildings, are iu progress or recently completed,
and the remains of the past are, as in London or Paris,
almost buried and completely surrounded by the evi
dences of a proejwrous present
To understand the cause of this change all that is
necessary is to glance awhile at the map of the Nether
lands, or rather, what constituted the Netherlands dur
ing the reign of William tho first, but is now divided
into the two small oountries of Belgium and Holland.
By this division, effected in 18110, by tho rebellion of
Catholio Belgium, tho former country gained its inde
pendence, but lost all seaxrU save Antwerp. The
coast of Holland is extensive and bristles with ports at
every part, while Belgium has but a few miles of Boa
eoaat, unprovided with a singlo harbor. Antwerp, the
ancient port of Flanders, is four hours' steaming up the
Scheldt, or as tho French call it, tho Escaut, and is only
accessible by passing for a considerable distance through
the territory of Holland In spite of all this, Antwerp,
m a port, has been made to to worth all the Dutch port
put together. Tho right to free navigation of tho Es
caut was secured, the river was improved, extensive
quays were built and oovorod with warehouses, and at
tho present time, ocean steamers of the largest size yet
built can steam straight up tho river at high tido ami
land their passengers and discharge their cargo as they
lie alongside the wharves. When it is remembered that
at LiverMMtl passengers havo to Ihj oonveyod on board
by small steamers, and that it is only on favorablo occa
sions that the largest vessels can enter the docks, the
advantages of Antwerp are evident
Tho quays wero oomtuenoed alxmt 1871 and are now
OoinpleUvL They cover a length of two and a quarter
niilea, and a width of alxnit three hundred and thirty
feet, are in great rt roofed in by continuous rows of
open iron sheds, and are supplied with lines of railway
from end Ui eml There is no fear of want of water for
any ship which has passed tho river's bar, for the river
walls frame in a depth of forty-uina foot at low tide.
Besides the long line of wharf there are six large basins
(including the two old ones) and several smaller ones;
also two large lasins not yet finished, tho whole cover
ing an area of three hundred and sixty thousand square
yard. Nor is this all, as additional basins for the stor
age of petroleum, removed from the city, are in process
of construction. The basins are, for the most part, at
the northern end of the city, and between them is situ
ated an extensive depot, containing a network of sixty.
if kilometers of railway, provided with hydraulic
cranes and lighted by electricity. Behind the wharves
lies a large area of ground recovered from the river, and
on this many new buildings have been erected, while
much is yet a waste.
As might be expected, the march of improvement
has played havoc with the picturesque, but unhealthy,
anciont portion of the city. Only two relics of former
times can be found along the river front These are
the Porte de l'Escaut and the Steere. The latter is a
ruinous castellated structure with a grim history, for it
was the seat of the horrible Spanish inquisition the
scene of the worst enormities perpetrated under the
bloody rule of the Duke of Alva and other Spanish gov
ernors. The Porte do l'Escaut is the only one of the
ancient gates now existing, and was built in 1624.
There is not a square block, scarcely a right angle,
in the whole city of Antwerp. If a dozen barrel hoops,
broken into short lengths, were placed miscellaneously
on the ground, along with a number of very rough
pieces of fire-wood, they would make up a plan not un
like that of the old part of Antwerp that included be
tween the boulevards and the quays. The streets curve,
branch out at all sorts of angles, widen into open places,
contraot into narrow lanes, and generally conduct them
selves in a most uustreet-like manner. Outside the
boulovardH, in the far larger space comprehended be
tween thorn and the existing ramparts, the streets do not
curve and are of considerable width, but they still pre
serve their angularity, radiating in all directions from
the irregular semi-circle of the boulevards, and enclos
ing triangles and trapeziums of varying dimensions.
All the streets are well paved. Vainly may a Phila
delphiau look for his beloved cobblestones, his cherished
brick or sand, his familiar slops and gutters. The nar
row roadways and sidowalks of the old part of the city
are all paved with what are called in the United States
" Belgian blocks," and the broader streets of the newer
portions are for the most part similar, though flags are
occasional on sidewalks. The streets are much cleaner
than those of Philadelphia, for the municipality does its
duty, and in no part is the dirt compelled to accumulate.
The householders, or at least the women, sweep the dirt
into heaps every morning, aud the wagons of the city
are on hand at the same time to remove it
Many of the streets of the older portion of tho city
still preserve thoir ancient appearance. The character
istic stepped-gable, topping a narrow and high house of
five or more stories is common, though paint and stucco
do not permit of the picturesqueness obtainable in
brick. The now buildings are, for tho most part, Re
naissance in their stylo, with occasionally a touch of
Gothic. Let it be understood that when " Renaissance "
is hora spoken of, " Queen Anne " is not meant Shin-glo-sided,
bristly-roofed, Dolly Varden painted mon
strosities in the American manner, which have in the
United States of America gained the name of " Queen
Anne," are absent The bettor class of modern houses,
both here and at Brussels, are of brick with stone dress
ing, of substantial appearanoe. There is seldom a