The many different shades of green are an echo of the past in the Zaan region, when the houses were mainly that colour. The soft terrain around the Zaan made it expensive to build houses out of stone, so most houses were constructed out of timber, which were painted to protect them from the elements. The richer the occupants, the more pigment they could afford to add to the paint, and the darker green their house would become. Although the Dutch language does have a word which translates into “Zaan green”, there was never one shade. Pigments from copper even used to turn bluish over time, so blue can also be found in the town hall and the nearby hotel.