• Photo: Dennis van de Water / Shutterstock

Jordaan

Pronounced "Yore-dahn," probably from the French for garden, jardin, the Jordaan was long ago a working-class neighborhood, but has become steadily upmarket over the decades. In 1895 the area had a population of 80,000, making it one of the densest parts of Europe but today the population is a mere 14,000, and the whole area has been greatly gentrified. Its narrow alleys and leafy canals are now lined with specialty shops, excellent restaurants, galleries, and designer boutiques, especially along the streets of Tweede Anjeliersdwarstraat, Tuinstraat, and Egelantiersstraat. If you walk down the alleyway to the right of the white Stadsschouwburg theater (Leidseplein 26), past the Melkweg and Sugar Factory and over the Leidsegracht, you'll have reached the southern perimeter of the Jordaan, quite different in it's current incarnation than it was long ago. Built to house canal-belt construction workers in the 17th century, the city's smellier industries such as tanning and brewing were also banished here. Living conditions were overcrowded and squalid, and the inhabitants gained a reputation for rebelliousness and community spirit. Elandsgracht was one of several canals in the area that were filled in for sanitary reasons in the 19th century. North of the Rozengracht, the Jordaan becomes even more scenic.

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