Amsterdam revives a toxic industrial eyesore into a fascinating neighborhood

Just across the River IJ from central Amsterdam’s waterfront sits an old industrial area that once was left for dead.

The area known as Buiksloterham was home to a Fokker airplane factory, a Shell oil laboratory, a large shipbuilding industry and other manufacturing.

Over time, most of the companies here either died or moved out of the area. They left behind a waterfront wasteland where the soil in some areas was polluted.

After years of hoping for an industrial revival that never quite came, city leaders concluded about ten years ago that it was time for Buiksloterham to move on.

A decade later, it seems clear that Amsterdam made a choice that other cities can learn from. Bit by bit, the neighborhood is turning into a lively area just a short ferry ride from the city center.

Meanwhile, it’s evolved into a creative hub for the so-called “circular economy,” attracting devotees of the idea that renewable power, rainwater harvesting, recycling and other techniques can allow an urban neighborhood to handle all its own energy, water and food needs without creating waste.

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