The prosperity of the 18th and 19th centuries is evident in many ways in the Zaan district. Besides windmills, barns and other buildings, beautiful homes of wealthy mill owners, traders and notables also sprang up. These houses often have both a beautiful front and rear (status symbols) and are built on the dike along the river Zaan, at that time a major thoroughfare.
If the owner was doing well, he would build a “goedjaarsend” (good year’s end; a house extension) onto his home. And those who could afford it had a so-called “overtuin” (garden across the way), separated from the house by a road or water. The garden was used for growing vegetables, for ornamental use or as a bleachfield for laundry. There were also a number of luxurious tea domes in Zaandam.
The Zaan district was literally a colourful sight. The houses in particular used to have a rich diversity of colours, from various shades of green to beige and light blue. And besides the exterior, the interiors of Zaan district houses also featured a colourful palette.
All these special regional characteristics make the Zaan district a unique area.