Nowadays there is no better place when talking about Amsterdam than the northern part of the city. Each time I have to cross the IJ by ferry, the river which divides the northern part of Amsterdam from the old center, I notice all over again how joyful it is to watch the sun through the small waves of the river. Unfortunately, this enjoyment does not take long. Exactly at the moment of feeling the rhythm of the waves the journey ends: you have to leave the ferry. Getting from the north of the city to the center takes about 3 to 4 minutes. The IJ is a small river. When you are on the northern part you can easily hear the voices coming from the Central Station on the other end. Nevertheless, when living in North Amsterdam you don’t really have the feeling of living in the center or even in Amsterdam itself. Although the city has a worldwide known name, nobody abroad believes that it has only a population of eight hundred thousand people. Nearly everybody expects a city with a billion of inhabitants likewise other cities with known names. But the citizens of Amsterdam know that their city is not comparable to London or Paris. Modestly, they call their city ‘a big village’. I wonder whether this is an appropriate nomination. You would expect villagers to stay closer to each other, even those living in a big one. The given example of the North denies this. Recently, on July 2nd, the council of the city organized for the first time ‘the day of Amsterdam’ on the Dam Square, aiming ‘to bring the different cultures of the city closer to each other’. There was music and audition of some popular artists and famous faces of the city. In spite of many announcements there were not more then some hundred people, half of them tourists anyway, when the council general declared that he was in love with the city. The council quickly found a culprit for the disinterest: the sun was shining, so people would prefer other places than the Dam square. Some of the online readers of a popular rightwing newspaper have given another explanation for the failure: “Amsterdam exists for the bigger part by illegal foreigners and tourists. The real citizens of Amsterdam have flied years ago.” Amsterdam has recently started with multiple projects around the IJ to get off its 17th century image and to create a new basis for its growth outside the tired city center. New cultural buildings, living units and business centers arise behind the Central Station which used to be one of the most impoverished parts of the center. Over 4 to 5 years all the projects will be finished; Amsterdam could be around the IJ like London around the Thames or Paris around the Seine.
The changing climate will positively stimulate the life along the upcoming IJ Boulevard in its own way. But whether the distance between the North and the center will get shorter, or whether the ferry trip will deliver the same pleasure as now, is difficult to assess. But nevertheless, nobody will call Amsterdam ‘a big village’ anymore. Coffee shops in the Netherlands