By Scott Roane
Bordering Amsterdam’s Centraal Station, Amsterdam North district, Noord, has been a significant, if less than salubrious part of the city since the late 14th century. Between then and the 19th century, its dubious twin claims to fame were as the public gallows and the tolling station, where customs and excise duties were exacted. This was followed by shipyards, heavy industry and poor-quality housing, home to many of Amsterdam’s petty criminals.
The area’s reputation of grime and criminality, and its sense of isolation, cut off by the river IJ (“eye”), has taken many years to shake off. Nowadays however, its location and its broad spectacular river frontage are seen as a bonus. And with its impressive industrial heritage and historical buildings, it is experiencing a well-deserved urban makeover.
The biggest news in Noord presently is the Overhoeks residential, business and leisure development, which includes the new Film Museum located in a space-age, origami-like building inspired by the changing light of the water. It is scheduled to open this December.
Next to Overhoeks is the Tolhuistuin garden, which, due to private ownership, was closed to the public for around a century. In 2010, it was returned to the city as a social and cultural destination. Cafes and restaurants serving street food from around the world are springing up, and it will also be a second location for the famous Amsterdam concert venue, Panama.
The NDSM Wharf – a former shipbuilding area – now hosts back-to-back concerts and events throughout the summer, ranging from jazz and food festivals to Robot Wars. The Wharf is also a “climate neutral” experimentation area, featuring various alternative organic restaurants and a completely climate neutral houseboat, which is open to visitors.
If industrial chic isn’t enough, the original dyke that protected Amsterdam from the sea retains most of its perfectly preserved colourful wooden houses. Noord is also home to the Kadoelenweg, a beautiful hidden village street with typical Dutch farms called Stolp Boederij, which were swallowed up by urban Amsterdam as it expanded.
Free ferries run day and night to three different points in North, departing from the ferry terminal behind Centraal Station. If you want a free boat ride around Amsterdam then take each of them in turn!
Places to visit:
Hotel De Goudfazant – Hip and chic restaurant in a glass fronted warehouse with views over Amsterdam
Noorderlicht – Laid back, chilled ‘alternative’ restaurant with reasonably priced fresh food and the possibility of free impromptu performances by its artistic clientele.
IJ Kantine – Waterfront restaurant with a fabulous sunny terrace.
Pancake Boat – Combine sightseeing on the water while sampling one of Hollands most delicious culinary traditions.
Café Restaurant Stork – New fish restaurant with great reviews and spectacular views back over Amsterdam
Wilhelmina Dock – Mediterranean menu and great location with a huge waterfront terrace.
NDSM Wharf – Shipbuilding area turned industrial chic.
Twiske – escape to a traditional Dutch landscape