These Historical Photos Show How Amsterdam Turned Itself Into A Bike Rider’s Paradise


Font: Fastcoexist


When you step out of the central train station in Amsterdam and encounter a sea of bicycles—and a three-story parking garage made for bikes instead of cars—it’s easy to imagine that the city has always been bike-obsessed and that a typical North American city could never pull it off.

A new photo series, showing certain intersections in Amsterdam around the turn of the 20th century, then in the 1970s and 1980s, and finally today, was created to prove otherwise.

“The most beautiful places in Amsterdam—the places where all the tourists like to go, and all the Amsterdammers like to go to sit on patios, enjoy markets, relax—all of those places used to be used as parking lots,” says Cornelia Dinca, founder of Sustainable Amsterdam, who started collecting the photos as a master’s student at the University of Amsterdam. “This was really surprising to me.”

It’s true that Amsterdam was an early adopter of the bike, but so were places like Brooklyn, where bike clubs successfully pushed for a bike lane as early as 1895. As post-World War II incomes rose in Amsterdam, people also started to buy more cars, mirroring what was happening in the U.S.