November 9th, 2012
Lonely Planet have just called Amsterdam the second best city to visit in the world, but in Amsterdam, Amsterdam Noord is a bit of an ugly duckling, never really considered part of the city. It’s located over the IJ, the main riverway running through the city and therefore separated from the rest of it, historically consisted of various small villages that were almagated into Amsterdam and traditionally has been one of the city neighbourhoods more troublesome inhabitants had been banished to. Apart from that, it has always been dominated by heavy industry: the old Fokker aircraft factories used to stand not far from where I live, while the Shell factories have only be recently demolished to make room for houses. For most part, if you didn’t live in Noord, you had no reason to go there.
This is all slowly changing though. In the past decade Noord has become somewhat desirable, as the usual gentrification subjects — students, hipsters, artists, upcoming yuppies — discovered that it had some of the last low priced but attractive neighbourhoods left in the city, while the municipal authories have been doing their best to get the socalled creative classes and industries to settle in what were once places of heavy industry. In all this they’ve been helped by the coming of the north-south metro line, which will make Noord that much more accessible from the city centre. In the neighbourhoods around the line there has been an influx of first time house buyers; in my own neighbourhood I’ve seen the older working class retirees, as well as the first and second generation Moroccan families slowly disappear to be replaced by a lot of young Surinam-Dutch families as well as *shudder* hipsters.
I quite like living here, in not quite Amsterdam, but still only ten-fifteen minutes by bike from the centre. Somewhat poorer perhaps than some of the other parts of town, fewer amenities — no neighbourhood pub! — but a good neighbourhood to live in and slowly getting better.