Here’s a riddle for you: what weighs 250 kilos, are two metres high, and feature in around 6000 selfies a day? The I amsterdam letters of course! The iconic red and white blocks stood proudly on Museumplein for well over a decade, while hundreds of thousands of tourists happily got their holiday snaps.
But, the I amsterdam letters were a marketing campaign that was the victim of its own success. In 2018, the Amsterdam municipality bowed to complaints of over-tourism and crowding and forced the removal of the giant letters. In the winter-morning mist of December 3rd, 2018 the letters were hoisted into a truck, leaving behind nothing but empty space – just the way Amsterdammers wanted it.
But were the letters thrown in the nearby IJ-river? Of course not! Instead, they’ve become a travelling circus, wandering the Netherlands and popping up for festivals and events.
P.S. Keep reading, and you’ll find the top tip for getting the perfect snap!
Where are the I amsterdam letters now?
There is some good news. While the most famous letters were torn away from Museumplein in the heart of Amsterdam, there are two sets of sister letters where you can get your photo fix.
Schiphol Airport – I amsterdam Letters
If ticking the I amsterdam letters is number one on your Dutch bucket list, this is for you! Just outside Arrivals 1 is a permanent set of the letters you crave to get your trip to the Netherlands off to a cracking start!
Sloterplas Lake – I amsterdam Letters
The letters in Amsterdam’s West are a little different. While the letters ‘I am dam’ stand upright, ‘ster’ is laying down. This makes it the perfect spot for a picnic, but less so as a selfie spot.
The Sloterplas letters also help make up a free-running course, so there may be some athletically-inclined people getting in your way – or vice-versa.
On the Road – I amsterdam Letters
The original Museumplein letters are now on the road. After touring the country, they now pop up in the surrounding region. Is there a schedule or a plan to this? Well, not a publically released one. We recommend checking out Instagram to see if you can spot some near you!
Why were the main I amsterdam letters removed?
You’ve found a magic recipe that’s bringing in loads of tourists, who are all spending money in your city. So why take them away? Well, the concept worked a little too well.
The I amsterdam phrase was originally created by a Dutch advertising firm, KesselsKramer, as their own take on ‘I ♥︎ NY’. But, there was one problem: Amsterdam based designer, Vanessa van Dam, had already used a similar concept and design to ‘I amsterdam’ two years prior. Lucky for her, the city of Amsterdam bought her out to the sweet tune of 20 thousand euros, despite finding that no copyright had been breached.
The letters landed in Museumplein in September, 2004, patiently allowing thousands of tourists a day to climb, scrabble, and hug them. Yet, in 2018, city-councillor Femke Roosma, of the Groenlinks left-wing party, made a push for the removal of the letters. Roosma told The Telegraph that the letters contributed to overcrowding, and gave the wrong message about Amsterdam.
“The message of ‘I amsterdam’ is that we are all individuals in the city. We want to show something different: diversity, tolerance, solidarity,” argued Roosma. “This slogan reduces the city to a background in a marketing story. Amsterdammers want to regain their grip on the city.”
Roosma’s push for the removal was a success, and the largest set of the I amsterdam letters were carted away within weeks. It’s just one of the measures Amsterdam has taken in reaction to mass-tourism in the city.
The I amsterdam letters are on the move! They’ve been removed from Museumplein at the request of @AmsterdamNL, but you can still find them @Schiphol, as well as at festivals and events across the #AmsterdamArea. Read more: https://t.co/ydjvheHCMd (? by https://t.co/nMKKQmlA0c) pic.twitter.com/4513ejipPP
— I amsterdam (@Iamsterdam) December 3, 2018
While Amsterdam may have been the first to install giant-letters for tourists, they certainly were not the last. In almost every big tourist destination travelled today there is some example of the huge signs. Some other places you can get your big letter fix are listed below.
Cities & Countries with Giant Letters like I amsterdam
Alanya, Turkey ‣ Antalya, Turkey ‣ Aruba, Kingdom of the Netherlands ‣ Bacalar, Mexico ‣ Bahia Kino, Mexico ‣ Bali, Indonesia ‣ Banff, Canada ‣ Barranquilla, Colombia ‣ Beirut, Lebanon ‣ Belgrade, Serbia ‣ Belize ‣ Bilbao, Spain ‣ Bogota, Colombia ‣ Boston, USA ‣ Braca, Portugal ‣ Brisbane, Australia ‣ Brussels, Belgium ‣ Bucharest, Romania ‣ Budapest, Hungary ‣ Buenos Aires, Argentina ‣ Cabo, Mexico ‣ Caborca, Mexico ‣ Caldera, Costa Rica ‣ Cancun, Mexico ‣ Cannes, France ‣ Cartagena, Colombia ‣ Caye Caulker, Belize ‣ Chapala, Mexico ‣ Cleveland, USA ‣ Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay ‣ Costa Maya, Mexico ‣ Cozumel, Mexico ‣ Curacao, Kingdom of the Netherlands ‣ Dahab, Egypt ‣ Dubai, UAE ‣ Edinburgh, Scotland ‣ El Alto, Bolivia ‣ Ensenada, Mexico ‣ Faro, Portugal ‣ Fores, Guatamala ‣ Gdansk, Poland ‣ Gijon, Spain ‣ Gili Trawangan, Indonesia ‣ Guadalajara, Mexico ‣ Guam ‣ Guayaquil, Ecuador ‣ Halifax, Canada ‣ Hanoi, Vietnam ‣ Harkany, Hungary ‣ Ibiza, Spain ‣ Indianapolis, USA ‣ Isla Holbox, Mexico ‣ Isla Mujeres, Mexico ‣ Jaco, Costa Rica ‣ Jambeli, Ecuador ‣ Jomalig, Philippines ‣ Karlovy Vary, Czechia ‣ Koh Samui, Thailand ‣ Liege, Belgium ‣ Lisbon, Portugal ‣ Loreto, Mexico ‣ Luxembourg ‣ Lyon, France ‣ Machu Picchu, Peru ‣ Madurodam, Netherlands ‣ Mallaca, Malaysia ‣ Marseille, France ‣ Mazatlan, Mexico ‣ Medellin, Colombia ‣ Melbourne, Australia ‣ Merida, Mexico ‣ Mexico City, Mexico ‣ Miami, USA ‣ Montego Bay, Jamaica ‣ Montevideo, Uraguay ‣ Naga, Philippines ‣ New York, USA ‣ Niagra Falls, Canada ‣ Nice, France ‣ Oaxaca, Mexico ‣ Oklahoma City, USA ‣ Ottawa, Canada ‣ Pai, Thailand ‣ Palawan, Philippines ‣ Panama ‣ Patong Beach, Thailand ‣ Pattaya City, Thailand ‣ Penasco, Mexico ‣ Playa Del Carmen, Mexico ‣ Plovdiv, Bulgaria ‣ Pombal, Portugal ‣ Ponce, Puerto Rico ‣ Porto, Portugal ‣ Puebla, Mexico ‣ Puerto Morelos, Mexico ‣ Puerto Vallarta, Mexico ‣ Quepos, Costa Rica ‣ Queretaro, Mexico ‣ Quito, Ecuador ‣ Rabat, Morocco ‣ Rio de Janeiro, Brazil ‣ Roatan, Honduras ‣ Sacramento, California ‣ Salou, Spain ‣ Salvador, Brazil ‣ San Carlos, Mexico ‣ San Cristobal, Ecuador ‣ San Jose, Costa Rica ‣ Santa Cruz, Ecuador ‣ Sentosa Island, Singapore ‣ Sentosa, Singapore ‣ Seoul, South Korea ‣ Split, Croatia ‣ St Maarten, Kingdom of the Netherlands ‣ Tacloban, Philippines ‣ Taupo, New Zealand ‣ Tena, Ecuador ‣ Texas, USA ‣ Tijuana, Mexico ‣ Tirana, Albania ‣ Tokyo, Japan ‣ Toronto, Canada ‣ Tulum, Mexico ‣ Warsaw, Poland ‣ Winnipeg, Canada ‣ Xcaret, Mexico ‣ Yerevan, Armenia ‣ Yucatan, Mexico
**This list needs adding to! Got a tip? Drop it in the comments below!
Phew! So Amsterdam certainly was no longer unique in having the giant letters. What’s next for the Dutch capital? We’ll be watching keenly to see what captivating trick they’ll come up with next.
How to get the best I amsterdam sign picture
We really considered not putting this in this article, but it’s a secret that could really change your life (or your Insta game). The biggest problem with taking pictures of big letters in cities is the stacks of other tourists crawling over them, right? Problem solved.
Are you ready? Stand on the back-side of the letters – so that they appear backwards. Go to town with your photoshoot, knowing no other tourists can be seen. Then, once you’ve had your fill of photo-taking, flip the image in a photo-editing program. Now, the letters are the correct way, and you’ve outsmarted the system. Golden!
Did you manage a selfie with the I amsterdam letters before they disappeared? Been to one of the other sites? Or do you have a tip of where the travelling set are now? Let us know in the comments below!
Feature Image: Grant Nixon/Flickr