chapter  7
18 Pages

The Hague, City of Wealth: Urban Governance and Culture in the Nineteenth Century


In June 1823 the city council of The Hague received an elaborate request from a number of distinguished notables. They wanted to rebuild the almost twenty-year-old lecture hall of the Physical Society Diligentia (Natuurkundige Maatschappij Diligentia), situated in the aristocratic quarter of the city, into a beautiful concert hall that would refl ect the dignity and splendour of the residence. By generously helping out, even if it was just with a loan, the local authorities would, in their view, make an important contribution to the city’s musical life and the general prestige of the royal residence of the Netherlands. In this way, they would also, indirectly, promote urban prosperity. According to the applicants, the ownership of a beautiful concert hall particularly increased the appeal of the city as a location for well-heeled citizens, which would, in turn, increase the tax revenue and the turnover of the local tradespeople. Such sacrifi ces to the arts and sciences should, in their view, not be regarded as ‘useless expenditures, wasted for entertainment only’. On the contrary, any sensible city council would secure a prosperous future by investing in the city’s attractiveness.1