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The city continues to be famous for its countless Chinese and Indonesian restaurants and the hundreds of houseboats that line its canals. These concentric canals, together with the smaller radial canals, form a characteristic spiderweb pattern, which was extended east along the harbour and west into the district known as the Jordaan during the prosperous Golden Age (the 17th and early 18th centuries).
Since the mid-1960s Amsterdam also has been known for a permissive atmosphere, and it attracts many people seeking an alternative lifestyle. The old part of Amsterdam has many ancient buildings, most notably the Old Church (Oude Kerk), built in the 13th century, and the New Church (Nieuwe Kerk), begun in the 15th century.
However, it was not a success and was later partly demolished and redeveloped in a mix of building styles for a variety of uses.
Since the 1970s, low-rise mixed housing projects have been the vogue, including both public housing and private-sector dwellings.
New garden suburbs included Slotermeer on the western edge of the city, Nieuwendam in the north, Buitenveldert in the south, and, in the 1970s, Bijlmermeer in the southeast.
Bijlmermeer was the ultimate in modernist utopian urban planning, with bicycle paths, playgrounds, and high-rises built along the city’s new metro line.
Amsterdam is the nominal capital of the Netherlands but not the seat of government, which is The Hague.
Others have come as “guest workers,” especially from Morocco and Turkey, or as employees of multinational corporations and students from developed countries.
Moreover, during the 1990s many new immigrants came as asylum seekers.
Amsterdam is the economic centre of the Netherlands, and there tradition persists alongside innovation. The Amstel was dammed to control flooding, and the city’s name derives from the Amstel dam.
Although the city has a modern metro system, about one-fifth of the workforce still relies on the time-honoured bicycle for transportation. By the 16th century Amsterdam had grown into a walled city centred on the present Dam, bounded approximately by what are now the Prince’s Canal).