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The famous ‘I Amsterdam’ sign has been removed and people are furious


Every city has its iconic landmark. For Sydney it’s the Opera House and Harbour Bridge, for Paris the Eiffel Tower, and up until recently Amsterdam’s stunning canal houses and the giant letters spelling out ‘I Amsterdam’ were the snaps to get. Sadly, at the end of 2018, everyone woke up and the I Amsterdam sign was gone. Unsurprisingly, people are still furious about it.

After 14 years outside of standing proud in Museumplein—the square that connects three of Amsterdam’s major museums, (Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum, and Stedelijk Museum) and the concert hall Concertgebouw—the council removed it due to its alleged ‘promotion of individualism’.

Dutch city councillor and Greens politician Femke Roosma says the sign rejected community spirit: “The message of ‘I Amsterdam’ is that we are all individuals in the city. We want to show something different: diversity, tolerance, solidarity”.

Amsterdam alderman for economic affairs, Udo Kock says crowding was the real problem, that the sign had become a blight on the city and started to become problematic because of over tourism. “I gladly want to remove them because these letters in Museum Square have become a symbol for mass tourism and the negative effects of it”, he said.

Word on the street is, each day around 6,000 selfies were taken with the sign. As such, the news has been met with sadness and anger by many on social media.

Even the original artist, Frits Huffnagel, had some thoughts about the removal, saying that it was a symbol of togetherness, not exclusion. “The Greens don’t understand a thing about the campaign. I am part of Amsterdam. As a citizen, because I work there, or as a visitor. That together makes Amsterdam. That everyone wants to belong to it. It is connecting people, you gather people under that slogan.”

The day following the disappearance of the letters a protest popped up in the same spot with some makeshift letters spelling out people’s confusion:

However, it’s not all bad news for people hoping to score a snap with the iconic symbol. The council has taken a set of the letters on a tour of the city, creating temporary pop-ups at various events, festivals and celebrations. While currently in storage, they should be back on display again soon and will hopefully help spread tourism to other areas of interest around the city.

There are also other I Amsterdam signs around. From park benches, to Christmas markets, to the second permanent (but less famous) letter installation at Schiphol Airport.

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