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Wandering around Amsterdam, the Netherlands by foot gives one a chance to discover some pretty fantastic architecture up close. Does it matter if cities change? Does it matter how you document the change? Does looking at the past affect your perception today?

Well, I decided to find out what happens between looking at an old documented picture of Amsterdam and taking a new photograph on the same exact spot using my trusted digital camera. What had changed over the 150 years?

As a reference, I used a photograph found in a book on photography to compare the changes. The photo was taken around 1865 by the Amsterdam photographer Jacob Olie (1834-1905).

jakob-olieThere are two canals, one clearly visible as a focal point in the picture with a draw bridge, and the other not visible to the left where we can only see the bridge approach.

P1050984In my photo above, the drawbridge has disappeared completely and a new bridge has been constructed. But the house on the corner is exactly the same!

P1050982 P1050983The third house on the right in the old picture has changed its facade but the window structure is the same. The house closest to the bridge has been changed completely and on the others the roof line has changed and the plaque with the name Swammerdam, the famous Dutch naturalist who must have either lived in the house or was born there, appears to be of a later date, as I cannot see it clearly in the old picture.

This is a perfect case of what looks old is old but perhaps not entirely original and that is the beauty of photography. It is within the reach of all of us to do a little research every now and then, and compare some architectural history. It truly is fascinating.

Walking further around the neighborhood brought me to a building with a familiar architectural form. I had seen this building shape somewhere in my travels.

P1050990Sure, a bit of digging and I knew where I had seen a similar structure. Where else could you find a Dutch influence? As soon as I passed it, I knew it appeared in my mind as a miniature Flatiron Building located in New York City.

Walking trains the eye and the mind, not to mention the bonus of keeping the body fit. Have a look at this complete contemporary roof garden on top of this period building. When space and green is at a premium that is what is done.


door on the canalThis is not a haunted house but the door on a patrician canal house waiting for another coat of paint. The original door opens up in two halves, the upper and a lower part which kept unwanted folk out in the old days way before the security camera invasion.