Terraces have not been around for very long in the Netherlands. They did not appear on paintings from the 17th and 18th centuries. Of course there were people sitting outside when the weather was nice, on the sidewalks in front of their houses, but there was no question of something as frivolous as 'a glass in the hand', at the most there was a water bag within reach. In the city, with few sidewalks and a lot of dirt, there was certainly no place to sit outside. Until the middle of the nineteenth century, drinking on the street was 'reserved' for bums. In Paris, where the western world was invented in the middle of the 19th century, some chairs were occasionally put outside a cafe. But it wasn't until around 1860, when Haussmann's first boulevards were laid out, that cafes expanded into those wide streets, a beautiful setting for a flamboyant public life. The trend soon spread to the Netherlands. In 1863, Sociëteit De Witte on the Plein in The Hague was allowed to place a few chairs and tables with the permission of the municipality. Years of lobbying had preceded this; the municipality feared that the terrace would become an obstacle for "decent women" crossing the Square. Other cafes on the Plein followed and more and more (affected) ladies took the plunge and took a seat on the terraces. At the same time, it was mainly the impressionist and classical-modern painters such as Isaac Israels, Leo Gestel, Frans Helfferich and the Zeeuw Willem Vaarzon Morell who showed a preference for public nightlife at the end of the 19th and early 20th century. captured the terrace culture on the canvas. These terraces could be in various places, in a park, at cafes in a large city such as Amsterdam or The Hague and of course also on the coast, close to the sea.
It was only from the 1970s that the turbulent growth of terrace life in the city started. Until then, the city mainly pursued a practical function; companies, institutions, large shopping centers were important and everything had to be easily accessible by car. Jan Oosterman wrote about the emergence of the terrace in 1993 in his thesis De parade der passanten. This title already partly answers the question why terraces have become an indispensable part of a society with more and more free time and have even become a necessity of life for many. "Life is a spectacle, and the terrace has the best seats," said Oosterman. The terrace forms a safe place between the private space of a café or restaurant and the public space on the street. Inside, conventions rule, outside the terrace is a semi-public space, where one is part of a fleeting group. Until the 1960s, people walked in through the inconspicuous side entrance of the cafe to order a bitter or beer, from the 1970s they could show themselves outside with a glass in hand. On the terrace people can relax and have a nice window on society; one can compare oneself without embarrassment to the passers-by – a cross-section of the population, in the knowledge of being looked at oneself. The terrace has become the yardstick for conviviality and above all shows that you are enjoying yourself and that you are doing well!