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The Urbanist’s Amsterdam: What to Do

From left: Al Ponte, W139, and Nieuwediep.   

The Bushwicks of Amsterdam
After you’ve checked off the Anne Frank House, Van Gogh Museum, and Dam Square, traverse the canal rings to explore three emerging neighborhoods.

For centuries, Noord was populated by industrial and dock workers, cut off from the rest of the city by the massive IJ canal. But low prices and space have driven the young, creative, and broke outward and upward.

Says Elien Van Riet, community manager for Curious Orange (Van der Pekstraat 40; 65-310-3738) has very cute china cups and mirrors, while Attic Empire (Van der Pekstraat 61 hs; 20-789-2471) has great vintage. The Hotel de Goudfazant (Aambeeldstraat 10 H; 20-636-5170) is affordable haute cuisine. For dessert, try IJskoud de Beste (Meeuwenlaan 331; 64-202-2976), which has 36 kinds of ice cream. Al Ponte (Meeuwenlaan 2; 64-208-7482), meanwhile, is by the water and run by an Italian lady—she makes the best coffee in Amsterdam.”

The Red-Light District
About five years ago, the city decided to class up the area, consolidating the prostitution windows onto select streets and encouraging artists and designers to move into vacant storefronts. Now it’s got galleries, shops, restaurants—even its own online radio station.

Says Afaina de Jong, architect and publisher: “W139 (Warmoesstraat 139; 20-622-9434) is a gallery where a lot of Dutch artists from the eighties started, including Marlene Dumas. It still feels like an underground art space. Rambler (Zeedijk 54; 20-752-7076) is a studio that recruits troubled kids to work in fashion design. It creates two collections a year. And Mata Hari (Oudezijds Achterburgwal 22; 20-205-0919) is a bar and restaurant that opened up last year in what used to be a sex club—it has a modern feel that doesn’t allude to its history at all.”

The east end is home to the city’s immigrant population—from Indonesia, Suriname, and other parts of the former Dutch empire. The low-cost housing has begun to attract arty types, and the neighborhood seems to be at a turning point.

Says Aron Friedman, D.J. and journalist: The Dappermarkt (Dapperstraat 279; no phone) street market is nice for people-watching, but you can also find strange things, like a dish rack in the shape of a mosque. Studio/K (Timorplein 62; 20-692-0422) is a multiuse complex in an old trade school—they have club nights, a restaurant, and an alternative movie house. There’s also a little bar in beautiful Flevopark called Nieuwediep (Flevopark 13; 20-465-0222). It’s on the water and very relaxing.”

Dress Like a Local
Nannet Van Der Kleijn,a publicist for Amsterdam Fashion Week and the former creative director of the Amsterdam Fashion Institute, on where you should be shopping.

The arty concept store:
Rozengracht 191-193, Jordaan; 20-330-5601
“SPRMRKT is very much about owner Nelleke Strijkers. She’s bohemian and crunchy but has this wild-rocker side. She carries avant-garde Dutch brands like Avalon—all very raw and rock and roll—but I like her store brand, SPR+. The last thing I bought was a cardigan that she designed, made by Bosnian war widows. Just hang out there on a Saturday; it’s great for people-watching, and she’s always changing up the art installations.”

The high-end homey boutique:
Spiegelgracht 13, Centrum; 20-626-6054
“Tamago mixes very now designers with vintage. Even the way owner Christine Van Lindt puts things on the rack is inspiring. I go there particularly for Dutch designer Marcha Hüskes (left), known for her Mondrian-like color-blocked dresses.”

The denim mecca:
Prinsengracht 493, De Negen Straatjes; 20-331-5039
“This denim chain is really Dutch—typical Amsterdam. The flagship store only offers men’s jeans, and it’s clean, white, but also very raw; it’s all about craftsmanship here, and everything is designed and made at their offices on the canal. The jeans are on display next to the tools used to make them—it’s like a museum.”

The massive flea market:
T.T. Neveritaweg 15, Amsterdam-Noord;
“This flea market takes place on the first Saturday and Sunday of the month and features 750 stalls. Some sellers are collectors, but there are also just people who have too much in the attic—jackets, vintage hats, a whole bunch of petticoats. I bought some beautiful Sophia Loren glasses from the sixties for like $8 and snakeskin boots for $20.”


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