Amsterdam has a very active nightlife with lots of clubs, bars and coffeeshops. Located in the centre of the city near the Leidseplein are the clubs Paradiso (housed in an old church) and the Melkweg. Both offer pop music and dancing almost every night of the week. Near the Amsterdam ArenA the larger Heineken Music Hall venue can be found.
Crime and deviance
Amsterdam is a favourite tourist destination and, as a consequence, attracts its share of petty criminals, particularly pickpockets. Pickpockets 'work' the train from Schiphol International Airport to the city, used by tourists entering and leaving the city. ATMs are also a preferred location to spot victims because they are likely to have cash. The city also attracts its share of junkies and the homeless, including many psychiatric patients as is it is hard in the Netherlands to commit people to psychiatric institutions without their consent. They congregate mostly in the red-light district De Wallen.
In 1995 a study showed there were about 24,000 illegal firearms in the Amsterdam-Amstelland region. A recent development are East-European gangs posing as police officers, asking for cash payment of a certain fine, or claiming they must inspect one's wallet to see if he or she has fake banknotes in them. They target mostly East Asian tourists because experience has shown those victims are more likely to respect the authority of a 'police officer'.
The municipality of Amsterdam currently operates a program to make the red light district safer by buying former crackhouses and other properties used for criminal activity and turning them into legitimate businesses. This has greatly improved the public's (feeling of) safety over the last few years.
Many of the world's cuisines can be found in Amsterdam. Close to the Centraal Station is the Zeedijk, Amsterdam's Chinatown, packed with restaurants from various corners of the Orient. Turkish kebabs and Arabic shwarma restaurants are ubiquitous elsewhere. Amsterdam has excellent Dutch style pancake restaurants. In addition, typical Dutch food like raw herring can be bought in stalls. Note that the fish is cleaned (compared with sushi). The way Amsterdammers eat herring differs from the way it's eaten in the rest of the Netherlands. In Amsterdam the fish is cut into pieces and served with onions and pickles. Anywhere else it's eaten by holding it by the tail over the mouth and letting it slide down the throat.
The promotional slogan Amsterdam chose in 2004 is: I AMsterdam. The old slogan was Amsterdam heeft het (Amsterdam has it).
Amsterdam does not have many memorials, but among its most noticeable is the world's first Gay Monument, commemorating the hardships gays have suffered throughout history.
Amsterdam is also famous for its lively red-light district de Wallen and its numerous coffee shops selling cannabis. Prostitution is legal in the Netherlands. Prostitutes are considered bona fide entrepreneurs; they pay taxes and are treated like any other self-employed tradesperson. Cannabis, on the other hand, is not legal; rather it is 'gedoogd' (tolerated), meaning the sale (5 grams maximum per customer) and possession of small quantities (up to 30 grams) are allowed.
The old city centre is surrounded by suburbs from the 19th and 20th century. These suburbs have their own local council (stadsdeelraad, see the article on the municipality of Amsterdam). One of these suburbs is Amsterdam Noord, separated from the rest of Amsterdam by the IJ lake.
(20th century art), the Amsterdam
Historical Museum, the Jewish Museum, the Nautical Museum, Madame Tussaud's, and many others. In all Amsterdam has over a 100 museums. Most recently, a branch of Russia's famous Hermitage Museum has found its home in the former Amstelhof.