Amsterdam the City of Tolerance?
Is Amsterdam the City of Tolerance? Actually, how come Amsterdam does not have a nick name like most other cities in the world? Paris is the City of Lights, Rome is for “Lovers”, Chicago is “The Windy City”, New York is “The City that never sleeps” etc. but the capital of the Netherlands is left in the dark when it comes to its own hall of fame.
- Why do cities have nick names?
So why do cities and brand have nick names? Most products have nick names as well like The Boeing 747 which is called the Queen of the skies. Well if we set the clock back a few thousand years there weren’t any cities to begin with. People moved around and built settlements next to rivers. Most city names were actually built around nick names!
- The history of City names:
When the first settlements were built the inhabitants had to come up with a name for the place. Quite often a logical description was found that can be recognized in many of today’s names. Rotterdam was the dam on the river “Rotte”, New York was meant to be “New Amsterdam”. Some of these names never changed and the actual city names are also their nick names! Denver is called the “Mile high City” which it actually is!
- Unique Selling Point:
If a city does not have a naturally born nick name than it is quite often given one to make it more attractive as a (tourist) destination. Milan is called the “Fashion Capital”. It adds popularity and people may want to go there to get the latest fancy clothes. Where to you go on vacation in the Mediterranean? Does any famous city come to mind? It is not Barcelona because of the 1992 Olympic games neither Athens because of its massive traffic congestion and pollution. What about the Pearl of the Adriatic? That sounds a little more appealing, does it not? We will let you look it up which city it references.
Well let’s be honest we are all lazy sometimes and like to use slang language just to ease up a conversation. Does anyone actual say “Los Angeles” or “San Francisco”? We say “LA and SanFran” for the same token we go on vacation to the “Paris of South America” rather than saying “Buenos Aires”. It makes causal conversation more pleasant and inviting.
- What are the options for Amsterdam?
Amsterdam may have many options. We can call it the City of “Legal Drugs and Prostitution” or simply the “Dam on the River Amstel”. Or what about “Cheese Capital of the World”? Most would agree though that Amsterdam is a city of tolerance and the multiple discussion around a nick name for Amsterdam evolve around this name.
- Why is there tolerance in Amsterdam?
Well for the obvious reasons as just outlined. Soft drugs and prostitution are legal. There are multiple cultures living in peace on a small piece of land, gays are not harassed and most abortions are legal. Healthcare is free and old people can decide to legally end their life through euthanasia. All sounds very tolerant!
- But there is a flip side to the tolerance of Amsterdam
Tolerance in Amsterdam can be found in its relaxed rules for just about everything. However, it is also the city where Theo van Gogh was brutally murdered during day time. So what intolerance does Amsterdam exhibit?
A: Parking your car is impossible and the parking and towing fees are extremely high! The city is very car unfriendly.
B: Hate between Muslim minorities and native Dutch is expressed every day.
C: The city has the highest homeless population of the nation and nothing is done about it.
D: Illegal prostitution and human trafficking is very much present. It violates basic human rights.
- So, Should Amsterdam have a nickname or just be Amsterdam?
Does a city need a nick name when it is already world famous? Well New York is world famous and yet it still has a nick name.
- The Dutch are just Dutch, very Dutch.
See the Dutch are not into fancy things and flashy names. They stay with two feet on the ground and are so proud of there capital city Amsterdam that they simply keep it Amsterdam. Some have tried with words like “Amsterdamned” or “IAmsterdam” but the train conductor who has been announcing Amsterdam as the final stop on the train will not ever change that to the “City of Tolerance”
- Complexities assigning the name.
The Netherlands has a so called “Polder Model” for decision making. This means that everyone gets involved and not a single person has a mandate. It took months for Amsterdam to agree on a new mayor as the mayor is not directly elected but appointed.
Finding consensus on a nick name will take years to accomplish and costs a lot of money. The city of Amsterdam will likely never agree on a procedure to decide on a nickname for Amsterdam.
Every culture has their do-s and don’t-s. In the Netherlands we say “Just be who you are and you are already crazy enough” The Dutch will never use a nick name for Amsterdam and if someone else imposes one of them the country will simply ignore it.
I am proud to say that when our CityBusExpress bus arrives in Amsterdam from Berlin our driver can still say “Welcome to Amsterdam”, That is it. Amsterdam just Amsterdam. Keep it simple and be loved just like CityBusExpress!
Daily express bus service between Amsterdam and Berlin, not between the City of Tolerance and Berlin!