The Eastern Docklands is a highly urbanized and cosmopolitan living quarter situated along Amsterdam’s waterfront.
The neighbourhood has a creative and innovative atmosphere. Many small businesses, mainly in the arts, have settled here. There are many art & design shops and the neighbourhood has a fair amount of restaurants, cafes and clubs. Some of them are among Amsterdam’s most trendy; others are among the most original in town.
Many residents of the Eastern Docklands are professionals or artists between 30 and 50 years old. The area is especially attractive to people with an urban lifestyle, mainly because of the atmosphere and the proximity to shopping, restaurants and public transport.
The central area of the Eastern Docklands, right along the IJ lake, has some of the most striking new apartment buildings and also most of the historical buildings in the area. Several of these historical maritime buildings have been renovated; others are still being restored.
The eastern part of the neighbourhood has apartment buildings and houses with roof gardens and an attractive view over the water. The warehouses Monday to Sunday have been changed into apartment buildings.
The western part of the Eastern Docklands is redesigned in the style of the seventeenth century part of the city. This part of the neighborhood has small streets and canals with attractive canal houses and community gardens and some old warehouses. Other people live on house-boats, in communal houses or in studios.
The central park in the area, de Rietlanden, is situated around the main streets in the central area.
Sights of the Eastern Docklands area
A shopping center is situated in an old warehouse called Brazilie. In the earlier part of the twentieth century this warehouse was used for cocoa storage from Central or South America.
The historical Lloyd Hotel at the lakeside was a hotel for emigrants from Central and Eastern Europe in the early twentieth century. It has been renovated and now it is again a hotel and a cultural centre.
The new grand music building and the present passenger terminal for cruise ships are located in the western part of the Eastern Docklands. The Muziekgebouw at the IJ offers very good music performances. This centre is also home to several television shows (actualities, discussion and cultural television programs).
Several new developments are planned on Eastern Docks Island. For example, the new Central Library of Amsterdam (opening July 2007) and the conservatory will be located there.
About 1000-2000 meters south of the Eastern Docklands area, a new university campus of Amsterdam University is under construction.
The former hydraulic energy station, commonly known as the steam factory, now houses the trendy nightclub Panama, offering e.g. Caribbean and Latin shows.
The central part of the neighbourhood is next to the former city-wall bulwarks. On a remaining bulwark just South of the Eastern Docklands is a seventeenth century city windmill. It is one of the few remaining city windmills, now home to a brewery producing and selling the local IJ lake beer.
The history of the dockland area dates back to the seventeenth century, and it has been turbulent from time to time. Many important national and international historical events took place in this dockland area; traces of them can still be found.
In the Middle Ages and up to the seventeenth century the Eastern Docklands were part of the sea. There were some swamps and some small islands in this area.
The island Paardenhoek (horse corner) was a cavalery station. The island Pampus, further out in the sea, was a tricky place for sailors, where ships trying to reach the docks often got stuck when the tide was low.
The seventeenth century is often referred to as the Dutch Golden Age. This was a time of expansion and increasing wealth, of international trade and overseas travelling. It was also a time of war. Some of the great Dutch seafaring heroes (or pirates) sailed the seven seas and fought the Spaniards in the Eighty Year liberation war.
Then it was decided to use this area near the city walls for business purposes. Several city windmills were built on newly made islands. The first three windmills, called Hope, Love and Fortune, were used for sawing wood.
During the time of French government at the end of the eighteenth century, part of the dockland area was used by the Napoleonic army for housing and exercise purposes. Some former barracks are situated south of the dockland area, now housing apartments and offices.
In the nineteenth century, the seventeenth century docks built on the neighboring Eastern Islands had become too small for the demands of the time and they were gradually expanded to the Eastern Docklands.
The main part of the Eastern Docklands was built in the early twentieth century. During several decades around the turn of the century new islands were made in the wetlands. Some of the new islands were named after islands in the East-Indies, for example Java or Borneo.
In the 1970s, the docklands were abandoned by the shipping companies. The area had become too small for their needs and they left for new docks on the west side of the town. The area was now taken over by squatters, city nomads and houseboat dwellers. Thousands of them created a large alternative community in the docklands.