A very brief summary of the history of the city and other observations while we visited in the summer 2022.
1. Weed is actually illegal, officially, but it is taxed. They have a word which Translates into "looking the other way", this has long been the city's creed - that so long as you are not causing any hassle you can get away with most things. This led to their tolerant nature, hosting numerous groups that fled persecution during the centuries. Including Jews and various protestant groups.
2. This tolerance led to war with Charles V, and then with Phillip II - and ultimately led to their decision to officially adopt protestantism.
3. The VOC, or Dutch East India Company, pioneered the public stock company and powered their growth of Empire. Amsterdam was known as the warehouse of the world - with merchants building tall houses around the canals - the family living on the bottom floor and their stock of commodities stored in the rooms above waiting to sell. A hoist sticking out of the front of the buildings allowed heavy items to be easily swung into the homes - which were otherwise very narrow. These hoists are still in use today.
4. Napoleaon invaded- and placed his brother on the throne, this was Louis I, he moved into the town halls - on the central Dam Square and turned it into his Palace. They have had a royal family ever since.
5. The city flag of Amsterdam is the three crosses. This looks a little like a reference to the sex industry but is, by coincidence, three St Andrew crosses, a prominent feature or many rich family crests during the time of the cities formation - and so it made its way into the main flag.
6. The Netherlands stayed out of the First World War and during this time built tens of thousands of social housing units.