Jonathan warned me. Noord is big. Really big. As big as Centrum, all by itself. And diverse. Diverse means supporting a huge amount of new immigrants, as well as a large Dutch population, in an ever-changing landscape of manicured, almost park-like roads and villages. From the ultra-modern Eye Film Museum (locals call it the White Whale) to the dikes and grasslands at the top of Zunderdorp Tuindorp, a simply charming ”gentleman farm village” at the very top, the feel of Noord is that it’s all been purpose-built for making images.
Amsterdam Noord formerly served mainly as an area for peat extraction. Once officially becoming part of Amsterdam in 1393, it functioned as a gallows pit and tolling station for passing ships. By the late 19th century, the demand for land for the city’s heavy industry inspired development in Noord.
When the Dutch need more land, they wall it off and wait for it to dry. This accounts for Noord’s feeling of ”urban planning.” The place looks like something Frederick Law Olmsted might have created, a huge Central Park, with channels, lawns, parks, and green-space.
But Noord was not all orderly. It’s the only place we got the ”child swarm” more typical of places in southern Europe; luckily we had our camera gear and passports fastened down good and tight. Mostly though, Noord presented itself as an example of the city in “change.” Housing blocks with a demographic appeal to immigrants mix in with estates, the unusual round houses we saw so often, and suburbs with row upon row of perfect clone houses like Kadoelen. Parts of the south (of Noord), including the old Shipyard (NDSM), have a creative vibe and play host to festivals like Over Het IJ and corporate clients like MTV.
Noord yielded a tidy 1068 images across a variety of locations and subjects. Then, of course, there was dinner. - Matt Peyton