Once a patch of windmill-studded agricultural land, De Pijp was rapidly redeveloped at the end of the 19th-century to make room for Amsterdam’s growing population. The existing canals were filled in by the long roads crammed with tightly-packed workers apartments that give the neighbourhood its distinct character today. The name De Pijp (the pipe) is perhaps a reference to the stream of commuters who would funnel through the narrow streets each morning.
From the 19th century until the 1960s, cheap housing attracted bohemian spirits, thinkers and creative pioneers from across the city, earning De Pijp the reputation of Amsterdam’s lively Latin Quarter. Mondriaan famously lived in one of the elegant villas surrounding Sarphatipark and many street names still retain the names of other Dutch artists who made a home in the area.
De Pijp also became the go-to haunt for the city’s revellers with beerhouses and brothels springing up and certain corners falling into a state of disrepair. The 1920s and 30s saw the southward expansion of Nieuwe Pijp and Diamantbuurt. Social housing complexes in the new expressionist Amsterdam School architectural style were built to house those employed in the nearby diamond-cutting industry and Heineken Brewery.
Today, De Pijp is the perfect mix of old and new. Brunch spots and juice bars are nestled amongst historic brown cafes and old-school fruit and veg vendors. Along the Albert Cuypmarkt, you could just as easily pick up a poke bowl as you could a fresh herring. The area is also a lively after-work hangout with streets like the Eerste van der Helststraat brimming with buzzing cocktail bars and terraces drawing in punters from all over the city.
The district’s main arteries, Albert Cuypstraat and Ferdinand Bolstraat are a true melting pot of nationalities and every conceivable cuisine. From Middle Eastern and North African lunchrooms to high-end teppanyaki and Vietnamese street food, the neighbourhood’s cultural diversity shines through in its restaurants.
De Pijp is so popular that house prices have risen astronomically in recent years and for locals, the name has become almost synonymous with gentrification. The neighbourhood still however exudes the bohemian air that has pulled in people from all walks of life over the centuries. Secluded from the hustle and bustle of the centre, De Pijp retains a friendly, village-like vibe that distinguishes it from neighbourhoods in Amsterdam’s canal belt.