De Baarsjes is west of Oud West on the other side of the major waterway Kostverlorenvaart. It is bound into a triangle of sorts by the A10 ring highway to the west and Jan van Galenstraat to the north.
Built during the first half of the 20th century along a tram line that brought commuters to the city centre, De Baarsjes was part of idealistic ‘Plan West’ expansion plan formulated by the architect HP Berlage who himself designed the main square Mercatorplein. As it was mostly built before WWII, it was all built to last so when it came to urban renewal in the 1990s, most buildings were renovated and not razed to the ground. Facades were cleaned, suspicious bars and bordellos were closed and ambitious plans to deal with crime and safety were undertaken. Today, De Baarsjes is simply an inviting, community-oriented Amsterdam neighbourhood.
It may have taken the rest of Amsterdam many years to notice, but De Baarsjes is remarkably close to the city centre. It’s not only minutes away from Vondelpark, but it also has its own green and rambling Rembrandtpark. Off the commercial shopping boulevard Jan Evertsenstraat there’s an open air market on Vespuccistraat. An active policy of creating ‘cultural breeding grounds’ has seen the rise of such multifunctional arts centres such as Het Sieraard and Meneer de Wit, as well as the gallery street, Witte de Withstraat, all of whom work closely with the community on arts and culture projects.
With over 126 nationalities and strong Suriname, Turkish and Moroccan communities, De Baarsjes is one of the more multicultural neighbourhoods in Amsterdam. Such iconic footballers such as Ruud Gullit, Rinus Michels, Dennis Bergkamp and Frank Rijkaard all learned how to play in the school yards of this district—around Balboaplein in particular. The many small apartments has also proved attractive to students and artists. The eastern area around Surinameplein and Antillenstraat, with its newer housing complexes and high rises, is more upscale.
Eating, drinking, etc
Since the neighbourhood was built in the 1920s when bars and cafes were more taboo, it was only with the influx of younger people in the last decade that a new range of mid-price bars and restaurants arrived. These days the area is home to trendy dining haunts such as Bar Spek, Radijs, an espresso bar Buon Giorno, an organic snack bar Natuurlijk Smullen and even its own club: Club 8.