Amsterdam Central Station
This time the Spotlight of Amsterdam by Night will shine on the Central Station. For many people this grand building is the first place where they put their feet on Amsterdam soil, either tourists from Schiphol or visitors from the "countryside". The last couple of years saw of lot of construction and renovation on the terrain surrounding the railway station, mainly to improve the connection with the public transport in the city. With about 190.000 daily travellers through Amsterdam Centraal it is, after Utrecht, the second biggest railway station in the Netherlands. As the renovated square in front of the station is slowly appearing, this is a good time to put this impressive building in the Spotlight.
Architecture and construction
The main buildings of Amsterdam Centraal are designed by Pierre Cuypers and Dolf van Gendt. The neogothic style was typical for its time (as can be seen in the Rijksmuseum, which was also designed by Cuypers). The roof over the tracks is a design from Leonard Eijmer. The whole building was constructed between 1881 and 1889 at three newly layed out islands in the IJ. The majority of the sand that was required for the Stations-island was available from the digging out of the Noordzee-kanaal, a channel that connects Amsterdam directly to the North Sea. Construction was delayed by some initial problems with the wooden foundations. It is typically that the impressive station was constructed on the location where the harbour used to be, an indication of the importance of rail transport as the main mode of transport at the turn of the century. The main reason for this location was however that it did not need track construction through the historic city center. The station was officially opened on the 15th of October 1889.
Although the station was renovated a couple of times during the years there were relatively few expansions on the tracks. 2003 saw the construction of a new bus terminal on the IJ-side of Amsterdam Centraal. This terminal connects the city with the surrounding region, while the public transport of the city, including the tram lines, still leaves from the front of the station. On the IJ-side we also find the docks for the ferry boats that cross to Amsterdam-Noord. From 2017, there will also be a metro-connection to Noord with the opening of the Noord-Zuid lijn. The roof of the bus-terminal on the IJ-side was finished in 2014, showing the name of Amsterdam.
Amsterdam is the city of bicycles, and this poses some logistical challenges. Mainly there has to be sufficient parking space around the station to place all these bicycles. Since space is scarce the city always looks for creative solutions, among which floating parking spaces on the IJ. One of the most typical parking spots is without doubt the bicycle flat on the front of Amsterdam Centraal. This three floor bicycle parking allows space for about 2500 bikes and is usually almost fully occupied. This amazing sight makes it a favorite object for the first photo of Amsterdam by tourists leaving the station.
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