From harbor to living area
The Oostelijke eilanden
't IJ Brewery and Pakhuis de Zwijger
For slightly longer trips you could a take a ferry to Java-Eiland (Java Island) and KNSM-Eiland (KNSM Island). These are part of a romantic-sounding cluster of islands, the Oostelijke Eilanden, in the eastern reaches of the harbour, which have undergone extensive redevelopment in recent years to provide innovative modern housing for people wishing to live just outside the city centre.
These two islands were once separate but have been joined together. KNSM Island was the domain of the Royal Dutch Steamship Company, and takes its name from the Dutch initials of the line’s name. Most of the old cargo warehouses on the two islands have been demolished to make way for residential projects and there are many interesting modern buildings to look at. The “new” joined island is like a modern-architecture exhibition, combining traditional and new elements.
When you disembark from the ferry, on Sumatrakade on the Java Island section, walk along this northern quay. As you proceed you will notice some of the older buildings. When you get to the end, there is a good viewpoint from Venetiekade, which takes in the entrance to the Amsterdam-Rijnkanaal (Amsterdam-Rhine Canal) and to the Oranjesluizen (Orange Locks) that connect Amsterdam to the IJsselmeer (formerly the Zuiderzee).
From this viewpoint, follow the shore around to Levantkarde on the South, where there are café terraces to enjoy a drink and look out over the barges and docks – one of the best of these is Kanis en Meiland, at No. 127, a clever Dutch wordplay on KNSM-Eiland.
The other side of the canal
If you’re not returning by ferry, take bus 32 back to Central Station, past old warehouses in various states of repair and restoration – this entire area is currently undergoing massive redevelopment- boasting their former trading glories in massive letters: AFRIKA, INDIA and others.
Bus 32 also takes you across the bridge over the Erts-Haven to the other cluster of the Eastern Islands that are part of the grand harbour redevelopment. Sporenburg (Rail Town), the northernmost, took its uninspiring name from the fact that it was the principal railhead and marshalling yard for this part of the docks, though no tracks remain among the more or less nondescript new housing blocks.
The next island south, Borneo-Eiland, has more of the same, as has Zeeburg, but Borneo Island does have at least one fascination street. Each of the houses in Scheepstimmermanstraat, which backs on to the water, is individually designed but on identically sized plots, in an occasionally bizarre architectural case of unity in diversity.
Further out east, a group of newly created artificial islands in the IJmeer, a southern bay of the IJsselmeer lake, is being developed under the name IJburg to provide homes for 20 000 residents.