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My Osdorp flat

While it appears to translate as "cowtown," (os = cow,) the name of Osdorp seems to derive instead from "oost" — east, relative to Haarlem.

I found a flat in Osdorp, a part of western metropolitan Amsterdam, and lived there from mid-June to December of 2000.

The apartment building, an open-book-shaped tower of ten floors divided into five two-story levels of "galerijen" — "galleries," or townhouse [two-level] units, is at a corner of an area of metropolitan Amsterdam filled-in and built-up in the postwar era. The building itself, I believe, was built in 1971; it is at the west and south of other sets of lower apartment complexes built in the 1950's and 60's.

On the other side of those is downtown Osdorp, along the tram line. Osdorp was a community from early farm days in the 14th century — but the town now is thoroughly modern; last half of the 20th century.

Osdorp was filled to its current level with sand taken from what is now Tussenmeer, a lake roughly between Osdorp and downtown Amsterdam. I don't know when that happened, but it was a modern, machine-driven excavation and infill.

To the west of my apartment building on Baden-Powellweg, there is the first unfilled old land in that direction from downtown. Just across a small canal is De Aker, in the hundred acres or so of what used to be Akerpolder. [A polder is the low-lying area between dikes.] About a half of it had been filled, and half of that was in the process of being filled, when I left.

The part of Akerpolder not being filled is an 1850's-era neighborhood in a row along two small low canals like wide ditches full of slow water. The houses are made of brick. All have small, well-tended front lawns and gardens. The land is about eight inches (20 cm) above the water level in some front yards.

Farther to the southwest, away from the city, is a bit of territory that's a bit more open. There is a field with a small sad-looking pony. There is a bit of a forest, strangely enough. There is, near the forest, an amazing little community called a "volkstuin," or folks-garden. This consists of picayune one-room houses of great variety and immaculate beauty, all of which have beautiful tiny yards and gardens. These are essentially second homes for people from the city. It is purportedly illegal to occupy a volkstuin house full-time. Some of them looked pretty cozy, though.

Not that my flat was bad.

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