New Amsterdam is an international center of business, fashion, medicine, culture and entertainment with a large collection of galleries, theaters, musuems, media outlets, corporations and financial markets. The city is also the de facto capital of the Commonwealth of Peoples, serving as the headquarters of the Commonwealth Commission and the Commonwealth General Assembly.
New Amsterdam is sometimes known as the "Untiring City" because it is perceived to be active at all hours. People from all over the world come to New Amsterdam for economic opportunity, culture and the cosmopolitan lifestyle. Although previously infamous for its crime, New Amsterdam is currently experiencing a record low rate of violent crime.
New Amsterdam was founded by Knootian settlers who landed in 1624. The city was granted self-government in 1632. The Nabarrans took the city in 1642 but let it keep its original name. The Knootians briefly retook the city in 1646 before permanently and officially ceding it.
During the Lanerian Revolutionary War, the people of New Amsterdam were largely ambivalent. Throughout the war, the city remained under Nabarran control and it was the last naval port abandoned by the Imperial Navy after the war was over.
New Amsterdam was the seat of the Lanerian Government from 1782-1793 and the capital from 1793-1802. In 1832, the opening of a canal to the Lanerian Great Lakes allowed New Amsterdam to overtake the other major Lanerian cities and become economically dominant. However, this dominance did not come without a price. A notoriously corrupt political machine set itself up under the aegis of the Democratic Republican Party, basing itself in Titulaer Hall and relying for support upon recent Irish immigrants. During this period, radical trade unions were brutally repressed, African-Lanerians were kept out and organized crime was allowed to flourish by corrupt police. It wasn't until the election of William Lamb in 1939 on a reform ticket that the city was cleaned up.
In subsequent decades, the growth of the suburbs led to a decline in the city's population. Rising crime rates, declining manufacturing and white flight led to serious social problems. Racial tensions exploded in the late 1990s after a number of dramatic police shootings. All of these shootings involved African-Lanerian fatalities who turned out to have posed no real danger to police. In each case, police and city authorities held that police responded to the situation based on the knowledge they had and made the correct decision given the circumstances as they were aware of them. Many on the left and in the African-Lanerian community disagreed, feeling that the shootings were manifestations of police racism and never would have occurred in white neighborhoods. The resulting racial tensions erupted into mass protests in 1992, 1994 and 1996, as well as sustained criticism and distrust and occassional acts of violence.
The city's problems improved dramatically after the election of Federalist mayor Ian Barr in 2002. Since Barr's election, unemployment and crime has declined, wages have increased and racial tensions have eased.
New Amsterdam is located in northeastern Laneria on the southeastern tip of New Holland. The city's total area is 468.9 square miles (1,214.4 km²), of which 35.31% is water. Most of the city is located on three major islands: Linschoten Island, Melchers Island and Savelberg Island. Balen is the only borough of New Amsterdam located on the Lanerian mainland.
New Amsterdam's importance as a trading city largely comes from the natural harbor formed by New Amsterdam Bay which is surrounded by Linschoten, Melchers and Savelberg Islands as well as the coast of New Dover. It is sheltered from the Atlantic Ocean by the narrows between Savelberg Island and New Dover.
The Haan River flows from the Haan Valley into New Amsterdam Bay, becoming a tidal estuary. Unfortunately, the estuary's fish population has declined drastically in the last hundred years due to pollution. Environmental efforts have brought about a partial recovery in recent years but fish populations are still too low to allow commerical fishing.
The city's land has been altered substantially by human intervention in the form of land reclamation projects which have pushed back the sea in some areas since Knootian colonial times. Much of the natural variation in topography has also been evened out, either intentionally or as a natural result of dense human habitation over a long period.
The city of New Amsterdam is divided into five boroughs: Melchers, Savelberg, Linschoten, Balen and Arlen. Each borough is a separate county of the State of New Holland with local county institutions. However, all five boroughs are also united under one municipal city government.
The administrative center for the Commonwealth of Peoples is technically located in Melchers although it is not subject to local government. Instead, it is located on twelve blocks of sovereign Commonwealth territory for which the Commonwealth General Assembly acts as a legislature and the Commonwealth Commission as a government.
New Amsterdam enjoys a humid continental climate resulting from cool air which comes from the interior of Laneria. Winters in the city are cold and snowy. Snowfall averages about two feet a year and there has been no winter recorded in which enough snow did not fall in New Amsterdam to cover the ground at least once. However, the Atlantic Ocean helps keep the city warmer than the interior northeast.
New Amsterdam's dense population has both positive and negative effects on the environment. On the one hand, New Amsterdam is able to support the most efficient mass transit system in Laneria and one of the most efficient in the Commonwealth. Correspondingly, per capita petrol consumption is the lowest in Laneria. However, pollution is still greatly concentrated in the air above New Amsterdam, leaving its residents especially vulnerable to cancer.
The city has adopted a number of measures to help reduce pollution. The municipal government allows only "green" products to be purchased for use in its offices and in public housing. New Amsterdam also has the largest hybrid bus fleet in the Commonwealth and some of the only hybrid taxis.
The water in New Amsterdam comes from the Kanit Mountains watershed and is naturally pure, requiring only chlorination to keep it clean at the tap. Ironically, the urban heart of Laneria has natural and immediate access to the sort of pure, spring water that would have to be purchased at great expense even in most modern, rural areas.
New Amsterdam has a well-known and widely recognized skyline including architecturally important buildings in a great variety of styles including Art Deco, Neo-Heroic, Pantobyzantine, French Second Empire, Gothic revival and post-modern.
The residential parts of New Amsterdam have a distinct character defined largely by the brownstone and redbrick architecture. New Amsterdam's stones are all imported from a wide network of quarries and thus display a variety of colors and textures. Because of previous fires, very few buildings in New Amsterdam are made of wood.
New Amsterdam is widely considered the cultural center of Laneria. African-Lanerian and Jewish-Lanerian arts and literature were both concentrated almost entirely in Laneria prior to the 1960s. Jazz, abstract expressionism, hip hop and punk all made their Lanerian debuts in New Amsterdam. The city is also a center for the fashion industry. Most major Lanerian fashion shows take place in New Amsterdam and almost all major designers are based there.
New Amsterdam is widely known for some of its landmark music halls, musuems and art galleries. The municipal government actually gives out substantially more funding for the arts than does the Lanerian national government. New Amsterdam has the most theatres of any Lanerian city and is well-known for the musicals performed along Mantarakis Avenue.
New Amsterdam is visited by well over forty million Commonwealth and external tourists each year. Tourists are attracted by the Commonwealth administrative center, the city's many musuems, theatres and galleries, by major cultural events and by the city's general status as Laneria's "first city."
New Amsterdam has 5,000 acres of parks, including the famous Concord Park in Melchers, the most famous park in the whole of Laneria. Other famous parks include Hope Park and Friendly Meadows. All three major parks attract a great deal of tourist traffic, as well as visits from joggers, pet-owners and other city residents.
New Amsterdam's food culture is influenced by immigrants from all over the globe. The city is especially famous for bagels and pizza, introduced by Jewish and Italian immigrants respectively. Thousands of street vendors, many of them immigrants, have made Middle Eastern foods such as falafels and kebabs standard fair for busy New Amsterdam residence. The city is also known for its many haute cuisine restaurants, including some of the finest in Laneria.
New Amsterdam has a vibrant sports culture, boasting at least one professional team in four major Lanerian team sports (Football, basketball, hockey and baseball) as well as countless amateur teams in literally dozens of sports from soccer to dodgeball.
In baseball, New Amsterdam has two popular professional teams: The New Amsterdam Provincials and the New Amsterdam Highlanders. The two teams enjoy a fierce rivalry and most New Amsterdammers are devoted partisans of one of the two teams. In hockey, New Amsterdam is represented by one professional team, the New Amsterdam Polar Bears. In basketball, the city is represented professionally by the New Amsterdam Stingers although it is better known for its strong tradition of collegiat basketball and the NHUA Headhunters who have won twelve Lanerian championships. In football, New Amsterdam is represented by the moderately sucessful New Amsterdam Grizzlies.
New Amsterdam has one of the most recognizable skylines in the Commonwealth. The city has architecturally important buildings in a wide variety of styles ranging from the historic Pantobyzantine St. Denis Cathedral to the deconstructivist Wade Towers. Away from the downtown areas, the residential parts of the city have their own disctinctive character, consisting mostly of brownstone houses and apartment buildings dating from the first half of the 20th century. New Amsterdam did not draw all of its stone from a single source but instead imported from a diverse group of quarries. Correspondingly, New Amsterdam's buildings have a wide variety of textures and colors.
New Amsterdam is home to an extremely complex and extensive transportation network including thousands of taxi cabs and buses, a pedestrian friendly infrastructure, extensive subway and rail networks, numerous bridges and tunnels, three major airports, a ferry system and an aerial commuter tramway. New Amsterdam is one of the few city's in the Commonwealth and the only city in Laneria where over 75% of householders do not own a car. Because of New Amsterdam's high rate of public transportation and its pedestrian friendly character, it is one of the most energy efficient city's in the Commonwealth. Study's show that New Amsterdam could weather a major petroleum shortage with little or no serious inconvenience.
New Amsterdam has nine sister cities, all within the Commonwealth. Civic leaders have stated that they are also interested in obtaining sister cities in IDF, Pantocratoria, Pantocratorian Ambara, Abt, Excalbia and Knootoss. New Amsterdam's current sister cities are: