If you are keen to read a concise history of our town, read the “ Canon of Alkmaar”. But however clever it is in summarizing of a rich and comprehensive history, the Canon is still too extensive for easy use in the fast compact universe of digital pocket media. That is why we chose to write new short tales to go with the illuminated tile project , tales that can be accessed on a smart phone or an I-pad. In doing so, the tales clarify the images on the Walk of History in Alkmaar’s Langestraat. At each tile the short tale is told , on which the tile-images are based. This can be read on location, out in the open air, thanks to an internet connection to the website One important objective was to show the cohesion of Alkmaar’s history. In such a brief context this goes at the expense of facts, many of which had to be left out. But those who find themselves fascinated can easily find the complete story. The library provides a rich collection of books on Alkmaar history. And for those with specialist ambitions the Stedelijk Museum and the Regional Archives should prove a happy hunting ground. The Historic Society Alkmaar is only too happy to show the way to more knowledge. It was constantly borne in mind that the tales should be suitable for schools and educational purposes. In future a helpful teacher with inquisitive students will hopefully be a familiar sight in the Langestraat. There is no need to study all tiles in one session. You can select by period, for instance 17th and 18th century. But also by theme, such as the development of trade in Alkmaar. Which illustrates that the structure of the sequence of tiles resembles a fabric. One thread is the town’s history, chronologically told, the other is thematic. At regular intervals the threads meet. From the earliest history known about our town to the present the Walk of History reads like a continuing story. The images reflect the atmosphere that goes with it. Together they appeal to the historic consciousness of Alkmaarders and the interest of tourists, since the texts are available in English and German as well as in Dutch. There is even a Chinese summary. Alkmaar’s fascinating and illustrious history deserves an audience well beyond its city limits.

During the writing process I have greatly benefited from the research done by Bert Muis. He suggested themes, elaborated on them, and organised the extensive archive of nearly one 1000 photos and pictures, which Pauline Bakker could draw on at will to design her images. We were keen to take the advice given by the town’s archivist Harry de Raad to heart. I wish to thank Joke van Lieshout for her valued contributions during the editing. I owe many thanks to the translators Leen Korporaal (German) and Wim Wassenaar (English) for their fine translations. For a major project this size one needs to be able to rely on careful financial management of the available funds. Paul Stoop has proved a reliable treasurer. He managed the realisation fund, created by sponsor contributions and donations. Jelle Groeneveld was the representative of the inner city retailers (WBA), Gert van Kleef represented the town’s administration. Their support was decisive at crucial moments. Finally, how fascinating and special it is for the town to offer the opportunity to bring art and history together. It has not always been easy but always exciting and instructive. We have benefited from Pauline Bakker (initiator and designer) and Katinka Krijgsman (digital realisation) and they have benefited from us. May this be reflected by the Walk of History. Alkmaar has been given a permanent event which can be enjoyed in quiet. Which is quite exceptional as well.

Leen Spaans
Chairman Historic Society Alkmaar

Copyright of the stories in all languages rests with Historische Vereniging Alkmaar/Leen Spaans, chairman.
Text: Leen Spaans; research: Bert Muis and Leen Spaans; advices: Harry de Raad; translation English: drs. W. Wassenaar; translation German: drs. L.A. Korporaal.