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From the year 1000 and onwards people are developing the peatlands along the river, de Amstel. The settlers dig ditches in order to dehydrate the area and build living quarters on the small dikes next to the river and raise a dam across the river, hence the name of the city. The residential count in the year 1500 was a mere 30.000. From its humble beginnings, the dam has always served as the centre of the city and trade activity. It was were the ships docked and fish was traded. In this era, the 'IJ' was still a wild and salt water river. The city had a briny (salty) smell and sea gulls would be roaming the skies all over. Only a very strong seawall would ensure the safety of its residents. On the dam, the first town hall was constructed, later replaced by the enormous city hall built in the Golden age. The building aimed to symbolize the wealth and power of the citizens. It is built on 13659 poles. Look towards city hall and walk in to the street to the right of it. You will find De Nieuwe Kerk (the new church) on the right. When you walk on you will step on to the Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal. Traverse the street and take a right until you reach the Molsteeg. As of now you are on the Nieuwe Zijde (the new side) of the city.

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