Veluweplein, Den Haag
To be found on route
You wouldn't know it now, but the Zuiderpark was originally laid out in the meadows on the edge of the city. H.P. Berlage laid the initial foundations for it in 1908. This architect considered it important that the workers in his urban expansion were given the opportunity to develop physically and mentally. That is why he planned a swimming pool and a football club as well as a public house with a library in his park. Ultimately, Pieter Westbroek (director of the municipal planting service) and Dirk Tersteeg (garden architect) designed the park without a public house, but with sports facilities. The Zuiderpark was opened in 1936.
That the sports facilities were maintained is (partly) thanks to Pieter Droogleever Fortuijn (1868-1938). As an alderman of finance, and later of public works and housing (1913-1923), he recognised the importance of sport for education and public health. Given his role for the Zuiderpark, a year after his death a group of people got together to realise a memorial for him at the park.
How exactly this memorial came about is not entirely clear. It is very likely that the sculptor Corinne Franzen-Heslenfeld was approached. She is also the one who, in the same period, made the two large sculptures that adorn the high pillars at the entrance to the Zuiderpark. At the same time, she also designed a plaque of Droogleever Fortuijn for the Maas Tunnel in Rotterdam. Droogleever Fortuijn, in his capacity as mayor of Rotterdam at the time, had also played a stimulating role in the construction of this tunnel.
To illustrate Droogleever Fortuijn's significance, to the left of his portrait medallion is a relief showing the port of Rotterdam. On the right is the Hofvijver in The Hague. In contrast to the stylised, static and larger than life size man and woman that Franzen-Heslenfeld placed on the pilons, she rendered these reliefs more true to life.
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