Oud-West then and now
Occupying a triangular area bordered by the stately Vondelpark to the south, the leafy and lively Oud-West neighbourhood is a prime example of how much Amsterdam has revitalised its neighbourhoods outside of the Canal Ring. This special corner of the city is a popular area dotted by trendy design stores, cool cafe bars and some of the best restaurants in the city. With a lot to offer and a great deal to experience, you’ll want to come back to this vibrant Amsterdam neighbourhood time and time again.
The development of the Oud-West neighbourhood follows the pattern of rapid urban expansion in the 19th century. Originally a residential area for working-class families, the area was initially built up along the Overtoom and Kinkerstraat, which are still major thoroughfares today. Ten Katemarkt has been in operation since 1912, where a host of stalls selling fresh fish, cheese, meats, raw herring, flowers and fabric to local residents for over a century.
Towards the end of the 19th century, one corner of Oud West began to attract the city’s wealthiest residents; bankers, politicians and writers formed a sort of cultural elite, drawn to the spacious mansions with gardens surrounding Vondelpark. The eccentric Zevenlandenhuizen (houses of seven countries), designed by architect Tjeerd Kuipers, was inspired by seven European countries and their characteristic architecture. Other historic buildings in the area include the Hollandsche Manege (a Baroque palace for horse riding), Vondelpark Pavilion (the former clubhouse for the city’s affluent bourgeoisie), Vondelkerk and the Orgelpark concert hall. Nearby, the Helmersbuurt neighbourhood became known as Amsterdam’s literary corner. Built in the 1890s, it was named after the Dutch poet Jan Frederik Helmers with all the surrounding streets commemorating fellow writers of the time.
In the 1960s, Amsterdam was suffering a housing shortage whilst many buildings stood derelict. Squatting culture formed a big part of the city’s identity and by the 1980s it had become a powerful anarchist social movement that regularly clashed with the local government. Several buildings in Oud-West were squatted by artists, including OT301 and OCCII. Now ownership has been legalized, and the buildings have been developed into art and music venues which provide an important home for the city’s creative community and diverse subcultures today.
Tranquil Oud-West has long since come out of its residential snooze. This cosmopolitan area is full of shops and eateries interspersed between the leafy avenues which border Vondelpark. Busy shopping streets like De Clercqstraat and Bilderdijkstraat pump energy into the area lined with a variety of bars, restaurants and boutiques.
An increasing number of coffee shops are opening their doors on the bustling Kinkerstraat, and at its intersection with Ten Katemarkt, you’ll come across one of Amsterdam’s coolest developments – De Hallen. Having undergone an enchanting renovation, this former tram depot now houses a boutique hotel, cinema, restaurants and a food hall that’s a feast of a treat for culinary connoisseurs.