Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Controversy : Complexity : Connectivity

Amsterdam Centraal : Amazing : Superb
The heart of old Amsterdam, and the bit that provides the iconic narrow canals and bridges pictures today, is a series of concentric canals within a defensive wall.

Much of the Amsterdam canal system is the successful outcome of city planning. In the early part of the 17th century, with immigration rising, a comprehensive plan was put together, calling for four main, concentric half-circles of canals with their ends resting on the IJ. Known as the "grachtengordel", three of the canals are mostly for residential development (Herengracht or ‘’Patricians' Canal’’; Keizersgracht or ‘’Emperor's Canal’’; and Prinsengracht or ‘’Prince's Canal’’), and a fourth, outer canal, Singelgracht, for purposes of defense and water management.
It was at the focus of these arcs that the powers that be decided to build their Centraal Station.
It became increasingly clear that the national government wanted the station to be built at the city's waterfront effectively separating the city from the IJ lake. This plan was highly controversial. In his book on the history of city, Amsterdam historian Geert Mak writes that:

Almost all of Amsterdam's own experts and others involved thought this to be a catastrophic plan, 'the most disgusting possible attack on the beauty and glory of the capital'. Nevertheless, the building of the Central Station in front of the open harbour was forced through by the railway department of the Ministry of Transport in The Hague, and the Home Secretary, Thorbecke. Finally, the plan made its way through the Amsterdam municipal council by a narrow majority.

The station building was completed in 1884 ...
... with the original section of the overall roof completed in 1889. It was build by Andrew Handysides of Derby.
But once the station was completed it became the de facto "hub" for public transport and wheeled vehicles began to establish their supremacy over floating things!

A second section of roof was added in 1922 with two further modern section completing the station and bus station that stands today.
Reading from right to left we observe:-
Handysides original roof
1996 "centre roof"
1922 roof
2009 bus station roof
As part of the bus station development the through road was put into tunnel, thus creating a traffic free link to the busy IJ ferries.

We are now in a position to leap fearlessly to the present day and (virtually) explore the station area, thanks to an excellent on-line diagram.

 Stands A  trams approaching via Damrak
 Tram 26 is an exception.

 Stands B  trams approaching via Martelaarsgracht

 Stands D  mainly city buses.

 Stands F  mainly city buses
Lines 22 and 48 are "cross city" hence their more detailed labelling.

And finally we have the new bus station (IJzijde) on the waterfront site of the station.

 Stands G  mainly out-of-town buses. (click on the diagram to enlarge)
It was from here that No 1 son and family caught their 391 to the Windmills etc of  Zaanse Schans and took a few piccies of the process. But, sadly, no shots of the buses.
Funny decoration in the roof?
It actually reads "AMSTERDAM" in orange/red signed out along the bus station roof ...
... just in case you have forgotten where you are as you approach by microlight, helicopter, jump jet, parachute or fired as a human cannonball and want to catch a connecting bus. Of course, it reads backwards from below!

And, beyond the buses, the boats. Two adjoining ferry "stations" are just outside the covered area.
And don't forget the Metro. There are escalators, lifts and stairways all over the station area.
These lead to a complex of tunnels, shopping areas etc under the main station ...
... and to three of the four Metro lines.

Stick the whole lot together and together you have got a whole lot of public tarnsport; all in one place, easy to find and, according to the Wantage branch of the fbb family, easy to use. (click on the diagram for an enlargement)
Observant readers may have spotted signs of work in progress in the station area. This is in preparation for the newest metro line, due to open in 2017.
So there is a bit more to enjoy in fbb's review of Amsterdam's public transport.

P.S. Stay in the Ibis hotel, ask for a room overlooking the station and you can enjoy trains all day and all night.

 Next tram blog : Thursday 14th April 

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