Oud West is bound by the Nassaukade to the north and the Kostverlorenvaart to the south, and is wedged in between Vondelpark to the east and De Clercqstraat to the west. It also includes the neighbourhoods of Kinkerbuurt and Overtoom buurt. Its major arteries are Overtoom, Kinkerstraat, De Clerqstraat, Bilderdijkstraat/Eerste Constantijn Huygenstraat and Jan Pieter Heijestraat.
The Overtoom once formed a footpath to the town of Sloten and as such was part of the medieval pilgrimage route around the Miracle of Amsterdam that extended from the city centre into the rest of Europe. The area featured small farms, country retreats for the rich and some of the city’s more stinky industries. In 1630, the most prominent complex became the ‘Pest House’ to deal with plague victims. The area was only built up in the late 19th century as urban expansion to make room for mostly working-class families. It became home to such Dutch luminaries as feminist Aletta Jacobs, architect P.J.H. Cuypers and writer W.F. Hermans.
Oud West is in the heart of the city and close to both Vondelpark and Rembrandtpark. Ten Katestraat market is an excellent outdoor market with its charming cross-street Bellamystraat giving the area an old-fashion village vibe – complete with dance studio and blacksmith. It’s criss-crossed with commercial streets, including Overtoom which has become a major interiors boulevard. And to attest to the area’s child-friendliness, the Bosboom Toussaintstraat with its many children-oriented stores is referred to as ‘Amsterdam’s delivery room’.
Boasting 178 nationalities, Oud West is multicultural but is pretty much free of the stereotypes that come with that. Increasing property prices has indeed attracted more upwardly mobile professional families and singles in recent years. The buildings are mostly four-floor row housing split into apartments, but other taller ones were constructed during the urban renewal of the 1970s and 80s. And to reflect how much the residents care: Oud West was rated in 2010 as the city neighbourhood with the least amount of street garbage.
Eating, drinking, etc
Two of the city’s more interesting alternative cultural complexes, OT301 and Lab111, which both mix music, film and art, are located here. But for a real taste for the relaxed diversity of this neighbourhood, visit the sprawling terrace of Du Cap to truly witness all walks of life. And again: the whole city is pretty much at hand.