J.D. ZOCHER JR., L.P. ZOCHER, 1852-1863, Westzeedijk/Parkkade, Rotterdam
Het Park / Het Park ( J.D. Zocher jr., L.P. Zocher )
Coach House, J.F. Metzelaar, ca. 1870  © 2007 Rook & Nagelkerke
Known simply as The Park, this large area of green space was laid out in stages on the site of three villas. The first part was designed in 1852 by the celebrated landscape architects and garden designers Jan David Zocher jr. and his son Louis Paul Zocher. Hailing from Haarlem, the Zochers were specialists in the romantic English landscape style with its ornamental pools, rolling lawns and winding paths. In 1875 the town council bought a fourth villa, De Heuvel, and opened its grounds to the public. The two public parks were separated by a small canal that sliced through the site in a north-south direction. In 1896 a hill, also called De Heuvel, was erected next to the river using sludge from a harbour basin (Tweede Katendrechtsehaven). Nicknamed 'De Jongh's Hump' after its instigator, the then Director of Public Works, it was to protect The Park against the water and weld it into a single entity. When the Maas Tunnel was constructed at the end of the 1930s, it meant cutting into the western edge of The Park and the sports fields located there disappeared. In 1960 the first Floriade world horticultural exhibition had a great effect on the present park's appearance. The Euromast was erected and The Park, which had been seriously damaged in the 1953 floods, was cleaned up and enhanced. J.T.P. Bijhouwer and M.J. Vroom produced the basic plan for the garden design. An allée of rhododendrons was laid out in place of the canal which had been filled in in 1955. Other new arrivals were a botanical garden and an Old-Dutch garden. The Park is regularly a venue for festivals and events.
The buildings found in The Park date from different periods. The Orangery, Stable and Coach House were built in about 1870 by J.F. Metzelaar for the villa De Heuvel. In 1986 'Het Heerenhuis' (also a part of De Heuvel) was converted into a restaurant (Zocher's). Parkzicht was built in 1913 on the site of the so-called Officers' Society building dating from 1856. It has consistently had a catering connection since the 1930s, ranging from a tearoom to a Gabberhouse disco. In 1946 it was converted by the municipal architect L. Voskuyl which gained it its distinctive stylish decorations. The removable Norsk Sjømannskirke from 1914 was moved to its present site for the construction of the Maas Tunnel. Chalet Suisse on Kievitslaan, which originated at the 1939 World's Fair in Zurich, was moved to the Netherlands for E55, an exhibition on Dutch post-war welfare held in 1955. Café-restaurant Bellevue atop De Heuvel was destroyed by fire in 1975. The celebrated Michelin restaurant Parkheuvel, a modernist design by Henk Klunder dating from 1986, occupies more or less the same site. Statues scattered about The Park are of the writer Hendrik Tollens (J.Th. Stracké, 1860), the musician Anton Verheij (John Rädecker, 1926), Scouting Movement founder Robert Baden-Powell (Willem Verbon, 1961) and Queen Wilhelmina (Charlotte van Pallandt, 1968).