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Pieterdam

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About this City Journal

Wilkomen op Pieterdam! Welcome to Pieterdam, the famous provincial capital of West Holland. Come to enjoy our world-class arts and culture, soak up the atmosphere in a canal-side cafe, do business downtown or in the Docklands, or relax in the stunning West Holland countryside. Whatever the reason for your visit - Pieterdam is always open!

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Entries in this City Journal

dazflint

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As promised this journal entry will look at Oosterpolder and the Central Business District. The shot above gives a good overview of the whole Oosterpolder ('Eastern land-reclamation'). What was originally a spit of land reaching into the shallow sea, has been expanded over the centuries using a system of dams, canals and land drainage. Taken together this is the 'polder' system of land reclamation. In the case of Pieterdam's Oosterpolder, this has allowed several square kilometers of prime real-estate to be reclaimed from the sea. This land has not gone to waste; as you can see, the part closest to the city has become a densely-developed Central Business District. 

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Here you can see some of Pieterdam's largest employers. To the front left is the Zentraal Zikenhuis, the Central Hospital. To the right is the De Wolf department store - one of the older buildings in the area, which managed to survive the major warehouse fire that cleared the area at the turn of the 20th century. Behind these are the Servicing Services and Digirealms buildings - just two of the corporations which make their home in Pieterdam. 

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The Science Centre is another major employer. It provides office and laboratory space, as a commercial spin-off of the University of Pieterdam. The University's main campus is located about a kilometer away, on the Oosterpolder side of the Oudekade:

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Another notable landmark is the picturesque Oosterpolderpark, famous for its lake and open-air arboretum:

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A view from the lakeside:

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The Oosterpolder closest to Oudekade and the city centre is some of the most expensive in the city.

Besides shopping centers and offices, the area contains a large number of hotels to cater for Pieterdam's significant tourist economy.

Below you can make out two of the more famous hotels in the area; the Hilton (by far the largest hotel in the city, with nearly 1.000 beds), and the Prism, an independent hotel popular with LGBT visitors; indeed, the area around it has become something of a 'gay village' with many cafe-bars, late clubs and boutique stores catering for this community. 

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Just to the right of the Prism you can see the West Holland Civichuis, seat of the provincial government. And over the other side of the water you can just make out the Stadhuis, the City Hall which administrates Pieterdam itself. Together the Civichuis and Stadhuis host the political life of West Holland. 

By now we've been here all day, and soon the sun will be setting - but life in the Oosterpolder continues After Dark! ;)

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When the sun goes down, the lights come on!

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The Vermeerplein (above) is a good example of Pieterdam's night-life - bustling with open-air restaurants and market stalls, it also hosts the Rondo Drome Cinema, a real gem of 1920's Modernist architecture:

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When the restaurants and theaters close, some of us go to our beds - but others continue partying the whole night through! Far from the city center, near the furthest edges of the Oosterpolder, is the Tramwegstraat, also known its English name 'Tramway Street', which is the definitive center of Pieterdam's alternative and late-night club scenes:

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Refuse trucks going to work, whilst exhausted revelers wait for a tram back to the city center and Old Town...

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As the sun comes up, the music continues at the legendary 5 AM Club.  

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Up-and-down the Tramwegstraat abandoned buildings are squatted by youth groups (above), whilst other buildings cater for the seedier side of life (below):

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Pieterdam lacks a polished, touristic 'red light district' like the one found in Amsterdam; instead brothels operate out of several low-rent premises along the Tramwegstraat. 

This area nearby has the lowest land value in all the Oosterpolder, and for that reason it has become home to various low-rise 'out-of-town' retail outlets - as well as the Zoo Palast multi-screen cinema:

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A large parcel of land adjacent to the cinema is currently being developed into Pieterdam's first true 'shopping mall' - the city council hope that this will help to regenerate the area around the Tramwegstraat, although some local residents are resistant to this idea and vow to maintain the distinctive character of the area - for better or worse!

This whole area borders the actual dam, from which Pieterdam takes its name. The original dam dates back centuries, but it has been extensively improved down the years. Where the river meets the sea, the resulting polder-land has been developed into a series of quiet suburbs:

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Traffic bypasses these suburbs completely as it heads towards the bridges and overpasses that line the riverside:

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Next time, let's take a look at where all that traffic is heading: towards the heavy industrial areas of the Docklands, over on the far side of the river from the city. 

That's all for this journal!

Dank je wel...

 

 

 

dazflint

The first entry in our Pieterdam city journal introduced you to the area around the Oudekade, the Old Quays. We finished with a visit to the imposing Sintpieterskathedraal (below). But there's much more to the historic Old Town!

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Like many Dutch cities, Pieterdam is built on a series of islands, some artificial and some man-made, divided by a series of canals. This network of tree-lined canals makes up the picturesque Old Town (Oude Stad). The picture below shows the whole of the Oude Stad, stretching back from the quayside we visited last time. Notice the City Hall, Cathedral and famous Pieterbrugge all in the foreground:

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As you can see, the Oude Stad occupies several square kilometers. It is framed by the river Vos to the South (the left of the picture), the Oudekade or Old Quays to the East (the foreground in this picture), and to the North the wide Centraalgracht (Central Canal, to the right in the picture), which even today forms an important thoroughfare for water-buses. You can see one here in the foreground! 

The Old Town is split across several islands, each with their own unique character. First of all let's visit the Stad Zentrum, the proper Town Center. This is the area immediately behind the Oudekade, the district where we find City Hall, the Cathederal and the rest... 

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The Stad Zentrum is characterised by a blend of traditional Dutch architecture, and more contemporary buildings including high-rise housing and office buildings. Traditional canal-side properties are much sought-after, so for the most part the more contemporary developments are restricted to the interior of the two islands which make up the Oude Stad Zentrum. 

Here is a row of classic Dutch town-houses, which line the side of the Centraalgracht (Central Canal):

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You can also get a feel for the typical Dutch weather, which is mild and wet the whole year round!

As well as hosting the City Hall and Cathedral, the Oude Stad Zentrum houses a museum of International importance: the West Hollandmuseum. 

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Similar to the famous Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, the West Hollandmuseum was built by the same architect (Pierre Cuypers) in 1889. The intricate Neo-renaissance architectural details are truly stunning, and can only be truly appreciated up close:

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The West Hollandmuseum is a credit to the city, attracting thousands of tourists every year and serving as a thriving cultural hub day and night:

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Moving on from the Oude Stad Zentrum, we come to the 'other half' of Old Pieterdam: The Haartje, or 'little heart' - so called for the tiny but historically important Kerk van het Heilige Hart, the Church of the Sacred Heart...

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If the grand Sintpieterskathedraal (Saint Peter's Cathedral) is the centre of Catholic life in the city, the Kerk van het Heilige Hart - affectionately known simply as the Haartje -  is the centre of Pieterdam's Protestant life. The church lends its name to the canal which it sits beside, and in turn, to the two islands (Nordhaartje and Zuidhaartje) on the North and South sides of the canal. 

These two islands have a slightly different character. The Zuidhaartje is famous for its enclosed, leafy courtyards and green spaces, with private and communal gardens sitting amongst the grid-like city blocks:

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Meanwhile the Nordhaartje is more modern and densely built, lacking these informal green spaces. Partly this is a result of post-war planning decisions, which involved building a large highway - the Haartjeweg - straight through the middle of the Nordhaartje:

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The image above nicely illustrates the difference between the quiet, leafy Zuidhaartje (to the left) and the modern, more densely populated Nordhaartje. Yet both districts 'thin out' as they approach the edge of the wide Pieterdamgraacht, which separates the far end of the city from the surrounding countryside:

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Now we've taken in the Oude Stad Zentrum, and the two sides of the Haartje, there's just one more part of the Old Town to visit - yet it's a bit of a contradiction, because very little of it dates back more than fifty years or so. This is Rivieroever, the Riverside:

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This long-shot gives a good sense of the Rivieroever and why it wasn't developed until recently. It is geographically isolated to the South-West of the city and as its name suggests, it lines the riverside. Without intensive water management, this area is liable to flooding. You can see to the top of the image, blocks of traditional canal-side buildings which were built along the Flaamsegracht (Flemish Canal) in the 18th-19th centuries. These are on higher ground; the rest of the area was not developed until after World War Two. And yet it was always inevitable that the Rivieroever would be developed some day - the Haartjeweg cuts right through it linking the rest of the Old Town with the docklands and the mainline railway station, both of which sit far from the city on the South side of the river. 

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The image above highlights the kind of low-cost, low-rise housing which has spread across the Rivieroever since the second half of the 20th century. You can also make out the Vosweg, a link-road completed only in the 1990's which connect the Haartjeweg bridge with the city's Central Business District, allowing traffic to bypass the busy Old Town. 

Though most housing in Riveieroever is low-rise and often self-built, there are some high-rise developments on the riverfront proper, which significantly raise the population density of the district. At the same time as the Vosweg bypass was being contemplated, it was also decided to bring an extension of the tramline B to connect the district directly to the Central Business District. 

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 With all this talk of the Central Business District, our next journal installment will take us to that area of the city, and the surrounding Oosterpolder. 

To sign off with, here is an aerial shot of the whole Oude Stad Zentrum which we have visited today. To the right is the Oudekade Old Quays, where we began; the middle and top-middle islands are the Stad Zentrum, the Town Center proper; to the top left is the Nordhaartje with the Haartjeweg running down through it, and the Zuidhaartje below that, on the mid-left. Stretching across the very bottom of the picture is the Rivieroever, with its widely-spaced modern housing in sharp contrast to the other island districts.  And all that dense development on the far right of the image, beyond the Oudekade - that is the Central Business District, which we shall visit next time. Dank je Wel!

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dazflint

Pieterdam is open for business!

Welcome to our beautiful city, the Jewel on the river Vos. 

A modern city with ancient roots, Pieterdam is the provincial capital of West Holland, and today has a population in excess of 100.000, with many more living the surrounding countryside. 

As this is your first visit, we thought that you would benefit from a quick overview of the city, taking in some of the main sights...

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What better place to start than the historic center of the city, the Oudekade (Old Quays)... 

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The Oudekade was once the commercial heart of the city, allowing goods to be traded with other city-states within the Hansa (or Hanseatic) League. The quaysides were lined with warehouses and workshops. Unfortunately many of these were lost in a major fire of 1903 - although this made way for the delightful Oudekadepark, now popular with locals and tourists alike:

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Over on the opposite side of the Oudekade basin stands our impressive City Hall, framed by imposing formal gardens (the Gemeentehuisplein).

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The City Hall is flanked by the iconic clock tower (inspired by the famous Astronomical Clock in Prague - left), and the Pieterdam Royal Opera House (right).  

The large square is also a major transport interchange, being served by all three of the city's tramlines... This image from the city archives (below) shows the tangle of lines as they were in the 1980's, with one line passing within meters of the priceless Gemeentehuis Fountain! One might ask what the city planners where smoking when they authorized that layout in the late 1960's? :boggle:

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The large Brutalist concrete building (to the right) has also since been demolished to make way for a row of cafes and restaurants built in a classic European style. These are much more in keeping with the historic character of the area. Happily, the gridlock seen in the archive image is also a thing of the past!

Moving North from here, still in the Oudekade or Old Quays district, we encounter another icon of the Pieterdam skyline: 

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Saint Peter's Cathedral (Sintpieterskathedraal) is the city's namesake and its spiritual heart. The current building is a masterpiece of neo-Gothic architecture, dating from the 1860's. It replaces the earlier Catholic Sintpieterskirk which stood close to the site from at least the early 1500's. 

As you can see, the Cathedral is surrounded by a bustling street-market. To the South side is the Kathedraalplein, an open space which now serves as the city's second major tram interchange...

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The Kathedraalplein is usually bustling with tourists eager to eat and drink on the cobbled terraces, but here (above) it is pictured early on a Sunday morning. Whilst many tourists are still asleep in their rooms, the Faithful are already on their way to the traditional Sunday service...

Before we leave this first entry, no visit to the Oudekade and the Kathedraalplein is complete, without taking in the Pietersbrugge - perhaps the most famous and well-beloved of all Pieterdam's traditional swing-bridges:

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Standing proudly between the Kathedraalplein and the Gemeentehuisplein as it does, Pietersbrugge is one of the most important bridges in the historic Old Town. Whilst it once opened regularly to allow passage of tall ships from around the world, today the canal is home only to houseboats and the bridge is rarely raised - lucky since it now carries trams on their way towards City Hall!

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This classic image completes our tour of the Oudekade district, the historic heart of Pieterdam. Next time, let's take a look further afield and visit some other interesting parts of the Old Town...

Dank je wel!

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