Oostzaan, together with Westzaan and Assendelft, is considered the “mother village” of the Zaanstreek area. As a result, these three communities are the oldest in the Zaan region, according to historical records. Oostzaan began as a ribbon settlement made up of the hamlets Noordeinde, Kerkbuurt, and Zuideinde later expanded. After the reclamation of the land along the Zaan in the 11th to 13th centuries, the ribbon village grew in popularity.
The village of Oostsaenden was first documented in 1306 as Oostsaenden. The name could allude to both the fact that the settlement is located east of the river Zaan and the fact that it is located east of the later-disappeared village of Zaanden, both of which are possible explanations (also called Saenden, Oud-Zaanden, or Oud-Saenden). A church was built in the heart of the settlement, and the hamlet of Kerkbuurt was officially established due to this. Albrecht van Beieren died in 1403, and Simon van Zanden, a bourgeois of Haarlem, was the last person to inherit the lordship of Oostzaan from him before his death. During the Eighty Years’ War, Spanish soldiers set fire to the church, many houses, and the flour mill Het Wapen van Oostzaan in Oostzaan in 1573. All of them were finally reconstructed throughout the years that followed.
The port of Oostzaan was involved in the shipping of the VOC and WIC and the construction of ships. For example, Oostzaan had its own pirate, Claes Compare, based in the city. After sailing from the Netherlands as a lawful privateer captain, armed with privateer letters, he soon began to seize ships on his own account, whether in the English Channel, Mediterranean, African-Atlantic coast, or even the Caribbean. He was executed for his actions in the Caribbean in 1672. A portion of his booty was monetized on the coast of Ireland and afterward at Salé and along the Barbary Coast.
Over the years, the village grew in a more southerly direction than in the north. Later, at the Overtoom on the IJ river, which was then still wide, a neighborhood of its own emerged, similar to the one that arose in Westzaan. The Oostzaner Overtoom, as it was known at the time, sprang out of this small community. Merchant shipping began to operate from this location as early as the 16th century, particularly to the Baltic Sea. Whaling was introduced to the mix throughout the 17th and 18th centuries. Tank farms were located on the island’s east side, near the Twiske, where whale fat was processed into lamp oil.
On the border with Noordeinde, there was a settlement known as De Kathoek. The Kerkbuurt was divided into two parts: the Zuiderkerkbuurt and the Noorderkerkbuurt. The Ambachtsheerlijkheid Oostsanen was purchased from the States of Holland and West Friesland in 1729 by the regents of Oostsanen and Oostzaandam for a sum of 100,000 guilders, according to historical records.
The Ambachtsheerlijkheid is the ability to perform well under pressure. The municipality of Oostsanen, which included the towns of Oostzaan, Oostzaandam, and Haaldersbroek, was disbanded in 1806. After that, Oostzaan became a self-governing municipality. To accommodate the growth of the city of Amsterdam over the IJ, a portion of the Oostzaan was annexed in 1921. It was in the vicinity of the Oostzaner Overtoom and the IJ polder at the time. Tuindorp Oostzaan is a town located in the Noorder IJ-polder. The city of Oostzaan, particularly the Kerkbuurt, grew during the twentieth century. These new structures also served as the foundation for developing Oostzaan’s village center. On Zuideinde, there has also been some new construction done. Since the completion of the ring road around Amsterdam in 1966, this region has become a part of the city of Amsterdam and has been annexed by the municipality (A10). Oostzanerwerf is the name given to this place nowadays.
There used to be a kind of diversity of and among the Oostzaners within the municipality of Oostzaan, until shortly after the halfway point of the twentieth century: the Noordelingen, who came from the north (Noordeinde – De Haal – De Heul – Achterdichting), and the Kerkbuurters, who came from the area around the Grote Kerk (Kerkstraat – Kerkbuurt). A distinction was also made between the Kerkbuurters and the Noorderkerkbuurters, the latter being a section of the building closer to Noordeinde. Finally, there are the Southerners, who have arrived from the Zuideinde. There was no competition among them, but one could always tell where one originated from by hearing or seeing the person’s surname in question. One was not or just barely accepted by the Oostzaners (born and/or raised in Oostzaan) when one relocated from outside the city. The other was an importer at the time. Those from the Zaandam side of the Zaan, particularly Zaandammers (Bunzingen) and those from that side of the Zaan, were not well received in the village. It was easier to get along with Amsterdammers, but they were not native to Oostzan, and thus they had difficulty settling in the community.
De Haal and de Heul have remained unchanged, except for old road ditches in de Haal, but the rest of Oostzaan has undergone a significant transformation. It had to give up its old road ditch to make way for the Kerkstraat, a busy through road. This was deemed necessary in light of Oostzaan’s important location concerning both Amsterdam and Zaandam.
The orphanage on Zuideinde is one of the older structures in Oostzaan, having been built in the 18th century. It was initially created as a domestic residence, but it was converted into an orphanage in 1774. Only orphans who were born in Oostzaan were eligible for admission. Immediately following World War II, the building was owned by the Dutch Reformed Church for some time. Still, at the end of the twentieth century, it was converted into a residential structure.
In 1786, a flood tragedy struck the Banne Oostzaan region of the Netherlands. In 1625, the Achterdichting dike, a patent for which had been issued, collapsed, resulting in the flooding of the entire Banne. On February 4, 1825, Oostzaan was once again struck by a flood tragedy due to a breach in the Zuiderzee dike near the Stenen Beer of Durgerdam. Oostzaan and a significant portion of Waterland were utterly submerged, including the town of Oostzaan.
On January 16, 1916, Oostzaan was struck by another flood tragedy, but this time the water just poured over the Luyendijkje, which had been patented in 1589 and had been built to protect the town from flooding. The dikes at Uitdam, Durgerdam, and Katwoude had previously failed earlier in January, during the night of the 13th and 14th. During a strong storm on February 16, the polder was inundated again. Only on March 24 could work on emptying the polder begin, and it was only on April 1 that the job was done.
A train station in the hamlet of De Heul, on the railroad line between Zaandam and Purmerend, was operated by the municipality of Oostzaan from May 20, 1884, to May 15, 1938, was owned by the city.