Public Space   of   Amsterdam
Nederlandse versie updated  09-01-2008
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For Dutch daytrippers and people coming from abroad, Amsterdam is the most popular city of our country. The Dutch horeca and our tourist industry be led by KvK (Chamber of Commerce) and the (before Amsterdam Tourist Board, previous called the VVV-Amsterdam, the very Dutch sounding Vereniging voor Vreemdelingen Verkeer), say that there never can be enough visitors and therefore will stimulate event after event to keep them growing till mega proportions.

Roughly you can devide the Amsterdam visitors in a couple of groups:

  • the foreign cultural visitor who has to turn to the expensive and (especially for those prices) too small more-star hotel room, is good for a couple of days substantial municipal income. Recognized by the VanGogh triangle;
  • the coffeeshop tourist, either staying in the (not) cheap (enough) and not that theft-safe youth hostels, or coming overnight and going on the next overnight trip back. Spending most of their energy and money on beer (especially during happy-hours) and softdrugs and roaming the Wallen. Recognizable on their smell and wobble;
  • the day tourist, strolling along the many chain stores (five H&M's in the Kalver-Nieuwstraat!) which he also has at home, wanders around the Wallen like a lost soul between the junks and the mentally ill, and is glad that he is doesn't live in such a threatening chaos;
  • the dance- & party-jongster and the visitor of the Gay- & Transvestite scene;
  • the ex-Amsterdammer, who comes every so often back to see what he misses. On the way home he is glad not to live anymore in this ever filthy city;
  • the workman, mostly coming from around the area, who is constantly busy maintaining, repairing and renewing the city.
Besides the Amsterdammer there is also the guest who gives this historic city the so badly needly multicolor.

Here are some pictures of outfits in Amsterdam




Advertisement campaigns in Amsterdam.
For years the advertisement campaigns in the innercity of Amsterdam are a nuisance for the Amsterdammers and the visitors. Especially the Damrak, also called the Red Carpet from Central Station to Dam square, is a major eye-sore because of the overwhelming advertisements. The City Center government decided now to do something about it.

Article 8.5 of the APV in 1994 (Algemene Plaatselijke Verordening) is in force in the whole city of Amsterdam and is clear about this subject:

  • 1. Het is verboden, met een bord, doek of met enig ander middel of voorwerp, of met een voertuig of vaartuig, uitsluitend of hoofdzakelijk gebruikt of bestemd voor het maken van reclame, op of aan de weg of het openbaar water reclame te maken.
  • 2. Het in het eerste lid bepaalde geldt niet, indien:
    a. artikel 8.4 inzake reclame op onroerende zaken van toepassing is;
    b. artikel 10.8 inzake het parkeren van een reclamevoertuig van toepassing is;
    c. artikel 8.9, tweede lid, inzake folders, reclamemonsters of ander reclamemateriaal van toepassing is;
    d.voor het gebruik van objecten die bij de gemeente in beheer zijn, met de gemeente over het gebruik voor reclame van die objecten een overeenkomst is aangegaan.
  • 3. Burgemeester en Wethouders kunnen van het in eerste lid gestelde verbod ontheffing verlenen.
  • 4. De ontheffing als bedoeld in het derde lid, kan worden geweigerd, indien het beoogde gebruik schade toebrengt aan de weg, gevaar oplevert voor de bruikbaarheid daarvan, dan wel een belemmering kan vormen voor het doelmatig beheer en onderhoud van de weg, of gevaar, hinder, overlast of verontreiniging kan opleveren dan wel afbreuk doet aan het uiterlijk aanzien of het gebruik van de openbare ruimte.

On the other side the city-center council creates extra profits by permitting large adverts on scaffolds, which put temporally in front of buildings to do some maintainence. A part of the profits goes to the city center. A noble striving? Not really, for this money goes not transparently to a specific project, but ends up in the governments general money-spending like paying off "duped entrepreneurs" and the bottomless money and building pit called North-South-line.

Take a look at my photo-page for a number of advertisement campaigns
in the public space of Amsterdam.
the red carpet
Red Carpet




The whole area in and around Amsterdam consisted (and still do) of swamp and peat, what makes transportation was done by boat by boat from the beginning on. The canal circles within the Singelgracht are made in middle 17th century, for water was the most important way of transportation. Small traders were using the canals and ditches, to sell their goods and also obstruct the so important waterway . Therefore a regulation was imposed in 1652 which made it illegal to live and (espacially) trade on the canals. To maintain open passage for supplying the warehouses of the rich merchants, at the time also the city rulers. Amsterdam had furthermore three yacht-basins, mainly in use by the rich merchants.
The phenomenon living on the water has been introduced in Amsterdam only in the 2nd half of the twentieth century. In the seventies tolerance and lack of authority caused an explosive increase of all kind of house boats in the city. The fleet of boats in the Amsterdam canals has been grown from beautiful river vessels and sailing ships (as in the Waals-eilandgracht), to the nowadays very popular cheap and maintenance free concrete boxes with on top simple rectangle constructions. And there is the schark, a ship with an ark as top. See also the houseboatpages by Jurjen Heeck.
When in 1993 the city government started her department BBA (Binnenwaterbeheer Amsterdam), the owners of the houseboats were already well organized and they all obtained a legal or semi-legal status. BBA divides her houseboats in woonschip, woonvaartuig en woonark. The last one is appropriately called woondoos (houde box) or drijfcaravan (floating caravan) and belongs with its shape not in the Amsterdam innercity, according to the Vereniging Vrienden van de Amsterdamse Binnenstad, VVAB. Take also a look at her dialezing.
Now almost half of the 2800 houseboats in Amsterdam are in the innercity. The three main canals of the girdle are virtually free of houseboats, except for a few. And in the narrow canals are only small boats to maintain passage. The houseboats outside the center are less in demand than the ones in the more picturesque innercity canals, which makes it very crowded in certain areas. Tolerant and passive city governments are responsible for the current situation and several places are too crowded to comply with the two meter interspace rule.
Fact is that on several locations the view of the water as well as of the historical fašades has been taken away by a wall of rectangle mobile homes. With tolerating the heightening of the boats an the exchanging for too long vessels, the view on to the historical canals has been greatly ruined and this is still going on. A more strict policy on this is extreme desirable. The present city council-center says she wants to dedicate herself to this. What that means for the innercity only time will tell.

monster woonboot view Recently a rather long white-black boat takes away the view from the bench on the corner of Brouwers-gracht and Korte Prinsengracht.
click for more details
Put on that spot only to make maney, not even to live in it. For rent per month as an ordinary hotel, to take the view away onto the Brouwersgracht and Prinsengracht, from the Amsterdammer and the visitor.
Read the zienswijze of the VVAB about this boat substitution.

Take a look at my photo-page about Amsterdam houseboats.



walking space

The innercity of Amsterdam is small enough to go around on foot. Its extended tram-bus-metro system makes the entire city accessable until 12 o'clock at night, at least for the better-abled pedestrians (a bit less going to Amsterdam North because of the not forthcoming of a piece of metro direction north).

Great, if it wasn't for the problems our public space has with too little maintenance, many street upbreakings and sometimes lousy elaboration and co-ordination. On top of that comes the sometimes shocking anti-social behaviour of users of cars, scooters, bicycles and terrace and catering customers. Especially in leaving some space clear for essential walking space. Together with the everlasting absence of a stringent zero-enforce-policy it is a flagrant violation of the quality of life in this city for visitors as well as residents.

Examples with pictures you'll find on my obstacles.




The only time you are allowed to put your possessions out on the street for sale in the Netherlands is on Queensday (april 30th). This yearly event is called Vrijmarkt (free market). In Amsterdam it has been declined in a few years time from a lively all-ages-vrijmarkt into a giant shameful youth-oriented booze and piss event. What this means for the famous historical Amsterdam Inner City and her residents is easy to guess. The stream of Amsterdammers leaving their city during those days is rising. While the administrators stand by languidly.
Examples are there enough, like my photographs of
the Amsterdam Vrijmarkt 2001.

for unvarnished criticism read Quip
for the above . . . take your time.




In spite that the city of Amsterdam maintains already for years a firm number of public urination places for man called krullen, there is a huge problem with men peeing unashamed in the center against a tree or wall or openly in the canals. Many monumental buildings suffer from this behaviour. The last Pee War gave Amsterdam a new invention: the pee-plate, a stainless steel piece of metal that should protect the stones of the buildings. Sadly it does not take away the disgusted habit op public urinating as well as the penetrating smell.

More soon.

krul with heron on top

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©keitje I'm not complaining , just explaining