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The White House in Rotterdam
Rotterdam and surrounding

Few people know that the White House is not the only one in the world: Rotterdam also has its own. It has nothing to do with politics but is quite renowned for its history and features. It is the first skyscraper in Europe. Yes, the first skyscraper of this scale was erected in the Netherlands. Not in the capital but in Rotterdam.

The White House in Rotterdam, the super-modern office building for those days, appeared in 1898. Willem Molenbroek, who recently returned from New York and was excited with high-rise buildings, was its architect. He could not stop thinking of the idea to construct something similar in his city. But it was not that simple because Rotterdam stands on swampy soils: would they withstand a skyscraper?

The solution was to drive many piles into the soil to enable it to hold a new house. During the construction work, local people worried whether the architect would succeed in building a new skyscraper in Europe. Detractors assured that such an edifice would crash down right after the work finished since the ground would not withstand it. Lucky for Molenbroek, they were wrong. The White House was not just built: it has survived to this day. Moreover, it even survived the carpet bombing of Nazi planes. How hard engineers must have worked on the project!

The first European skyscraper is located on the bank of the Old Harbour. The building looks very grand and combines unusually-shaped windows, an outlandish roof with graceful towers, and even narrow bow windows. The height and walls with all-over cladding are the only things derived from skyscrapers.

The first floor is not like American high-rises: columns, flower garlands, dragons, statues. As the creator explained, all this decor is meant to symbolize industrial progress, trade, navigation, and agriculture development.

The observation deck located in the White House is the most favourite place among tourists. It opens up a view of the Old Harbour and the operating port.

Address: Wijnhaven, 3, Witte Huis

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Tanya Slyotina
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