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45 Jewish trade with Spain and Portugal and their colonies was a fair match for the trade of the Dutch East and West Indies Companies. 7 million guilders; the next year, it was over 2 million guilders. 46 What is even more impressive is that they were able to carve out such a relatively large and profitable share of the economy on the basis of what was, in fact, a rather narrowly confined area of operations. During the first three decades of the century, the most important routes for Jewish traders were those between Holland and Portugal and its colonies (especially Brazil).
43 Moreover, most of the Jewish wealth was concentrated in the hands of less than 10 percent of the families. 44 In the 1630s, most of the Portuguese families were, it seems safe to say, modestly comfortable. 22 Spinoza: A Life The main source of the Amsterdam Portuguese-Jewish community's prosperity - and the domain of their indisputable contribution to the rapid growth of the Dutch economy in the first half of the seventeenth century was trade. There were physicians, surgeons, printers, scholars, and other professionals among them, depending upon which guilds did not exclude Jews.
The houses in the interior of the island were made mostly of wood, not brick like the wealthier homes along the city's main canals. By the 1630s, the poorer Ashkenazim were settling in these narrow inner streets and alleyways. The better-off among the Sephardim lived on the broad and open boulevards along the outside border (especially on both sides of the Houtgracht). The other main thoroughfare of the Jewish quarter was the Breestraat (later called the "Jodenbreestraat," or Jews' Broad Street), which ran parallel to the street that was the horizontal axis of the Vlooienburg island.