Between the seventies and nineties, Amsterdam’s international image has been shaped by prostitutes, marihuana and gays. The city’s administration tries to reset this impression of the Dutch capital by the launch of the somewhat lame I Amsterdam campaign a couple of years ago. The intensification of the global inter-urban competition has led to the emergence of ‘urban entrepreneurialism’, to be defined as the increasingly ‘business-like’ manner in which city governments operate, taking on characteristics once distinctive to the private sector — risk-taking, inventiveness, promotion and profit-motivation. Amsterdam wants to be the creative business capital of Europe, just like every other city these days. In its battle for the international knowledge worker, the city center needs to undergo some ‘clean-up’, according to the alderman. To provide you with Amsterdam’s classic image, I’d like to post some old postcards that were being sold in the tourist shops in the city center for many years. Now they’re forbidden, which is a form of censure.
I bought these postcards at a flee market some time ago. They represent how Amsterdam was promoting itself before city-branding became a big matter, and how open source city marketing could work. This brings up the question whether or not urban authorities should intervene in how the city is represented. Considering this, I guess that entrepreneurs understand a lot more about presenting unique selling points, just since they have to really sell and make a living from it, every day.