Westerpark (and its associated neighbourhoods of Staatsliedenbuurt, Spaarndammerbuurt and Frederik Hendrikbuurt) is bound by the IJ harbour to the north, Nassaukade (and the Jordaan) to the east and Centrale Markthallen (the city’s main wholesale food market) to the south and west.
When Rembrandt took his famous sketching walk along Spaarndammerdijk in 1650 towards Halfweg and Haarlem, the Westerpark area was still quite wild and only dotted with plots of agricultural land and windmills grinding up grain and sawing up wood. As a neighbourhood it was built up at the end of the 19th century to accommodate workers working on the railway and harbour after the laying of the North Sea Channel. By the 1980s, the buildings were worn out and squatters took over but renewal in the last decade or two, such as the round Meander buildings along the Palmkade, along with the reinvention of the former city gasworks Westergasfabriek has seen this neighbourhood bloom.
Very close to the Jordaan and the city centre, Westerpark is relatively quiet. The most beautiful section, Spaarndammerbuurt has some of the most epic examples of the Amsterdam School of architecture that mixed socialist ideals and swooping brickwork. The park Westerpark and Westergasfabriek both form an oasis of green. The latter is also a sprawling cultural complex of galleries, restaurants, clubs, a cinema and a petting zoo. It is also host to events such Amsterdam Fashion Week, Cinekid film festival and many more festivals.
Westerpark’s multiculturalism and diversity plays out nicely both in the parks and on the streets. While there has always been a lot of social housing, more private ownership opportunities has attracted the young professionals who were being forced to look beyond the more upmarket Jordaan. There are plenty of schools in this family-oriented district. In 2008 the Spaarndammerbuurt developed a ‘children’s ribbon’ route by which children can safely independently walk or bike to their school or daycare. When it was its own stadsdeel until 2010, Westerpark had one of the strongest policies in support of artists – over 300 are estimated to live here.
Eating, drinking, etc
The Westergasfabriek brings the neighbourhood together on such terraces as De Bakkerswinkel, Westergasterras and Pacific Parc - that is if they are not picnicking. Other gems include the family-oriented Cafe Amsterdam, pizza & pasta haunt Yam Yam and African eatery Semhar. And did we already mention its just minutes away from the iconic Jordaan neighbourhood and the centre?