Amsterdam, the largest city of Holland, capital of the kingdom of the Netherlands and of the province of North Holland, situated on the S. bank of the Y, an inlet or arm of the Zuyder-Zee, where that is joined by the river Amstel, 10 m. E. of Haarlem and 31 m. N. N. E. of the Hague; lat. 52° 22' N., lon. 4° 53' E.; pop. in 1870, 281,805, mostly of the Dutch Reformed church, and including about 60,000 Catholics, 36,000 Lutherans, 4,000 Anabaptists, 1,000 Remonstrants, 28,000 German and about 3,000 Portuguese Jews. It is one of the most remarkable cities in the world, resembling Venice in the intermixture of land and water, but much larger than Venice, and the canals, being lined with quays, present scenes of animation and enterprise. At the beginning of the 13th century it was but a small fishing village, subject to the lords of Amstel. It was constituted a town in the middle of that century; was taken possession of by William III., count of Holland, in 1296; fortified in 1482; was for a long time strongly Catholic (the Protestant citizens having been driven out by the duke of Alva), and joined the confederation of the United Provinces in 1578. Free toleration was now granted to all sects and religious beliefs, and with additional privileges granted to it in 1581 by the prince of Orange, and the ruin of its rival city Antwerp by the closing of the Scheldt in 1648, it soon reached a highly prosperous state, and has since advanced with but few interruptions, owing chiefly to wars with England, till it is at, present one of the wealthiest cities in the world.

The form of the city is that of a crescent, the arms projecting into the Y, and thus forming the port. The enormous dams thrown up since 1851 resist the influx of the sea into the canals, and are provided with floodgates of the strongest construction to withstand the pressure of high tides. They form the east and west docks, capable of holding 1,000 vessels. The principal mouth of the Amstel divides the city into two parts. The land side was formerly surrounded by walls, now replaced by a ditch 30 yards wide lined with trees, which make a pleasant promenade. Some of the bastions are now occupied by windmills, the city relying for defence against attacks chiefly upon the facility with which the surrounding flat country can be flooded from the sea. Amsterdam stands upon flat, soft, marshy ground. The houses are built upon piles driven through this surface soil to the depth of 40 to 50 feet into a subsoil of clay or sand. The canals by which the city is intersected, and on which all heavy freights are transported, divide it into 90 islands, and are crossed by about 300 bridges. The city is about 10 miles in circumference. There are eight iron gates, each named after the town toward which it opens.

The older portion of the city is irregularly built, and many of the streets are narrow and the houses poor. The newer portions are very handsome. The streets run in parallels along the former walls, and are consequently semicircular. In the centre of each is a canal, lined with clean paved quays, which are planted with trees. Three streets in this portion of the city are especially noteworthy for their length and breadth, and the elegance of the buildings which line them. These are the Heeren, Keizers, and Prinsen grachten.

Each is about 2 miles long and 220 feet broad. As with other streets, through the centre of each of these runs a canal. The principal shops of Amsterdam are in the Kalver straat, the Nieuwedijk, and the Warmoes straat. The bulk of the Jews live in true Ghetto style in the poorer grachten, or water streets, which are lively, particularly in the evening, but overcrowded and dirty. The houses of Amsterdam are built of brick, four, five, and six stories high, standing with their gables to the street; they are mostly entered by flights of steps in front, and are surmounted by forked chimney stacks. Many of the poorer people live in basements or cellars. Others live constantly upon the water, in apartments built upon the upper decks of their trading vessels. The most magnificent public edifice is the palace, formerly the city hall. It is built of stone, was begun in 1648, and completed in 1655; rests upon 13,659 piles, driven 70 ft. into the ground; and is celebrated for its great hall or ball room, which is 111 ft. long, 52 ft. wide, and 90 ft. high, lined throughout with white Italian marble, and for its magnificent chime of bells, playing automatically every hour.

The next most remarkable building is the Nieuwe Kerk (new church), lighted by 75 windows, many of which are beautifully painted. It contains the tomb of Admiral de Ruyter. The judiciary hall, opened in 1836, is among the finest structures in the city. Other buildings are the new town hall and the new exchange, founded in 1845; the arsenal, built on the island of Kattenburg; and the Oude Kerk (old church), founded in the 14th century, which contains the tombs of many of the Dutch admirals, and an organ said to be second only to that of Haarlem. Among the more recent fine public buildings is the palace of industry, established in 1864. Churches are numerous. The Calvinists have 10, the Catholics 16, and the evangelical Lutherans 2, one of which with surroundings is represented in our engraving. Various other denominations have several churches. Amsterdam has a great number of excellent charitable institutions, there being upward of 40 under the charge of particular denominations, and others belonging to the city. There are also various excellent educational institutions, some denominational in their character, others general. The Athenae-um Illustre has professorships of art, law, medicine, and theology, a school of anatomy, a botanic garden, and a free library.

The city Latin school is a fine institution. There are besides medical and theological schools. The royal academy of fine arts was founded in 1820. There is a music school, a naval school, a royal Dutch institution for science, literature, and fine arts, and another private scientific and artistic association, called Felix Meritis, which is patronized with great liberality, has 400 members, and is in a very flourishing condition. Finally, there is a museum of pictures, founded in 1798, containing a very large collection of the works of Dutch masters, and a remarkable collection of prints, contained in upward of 200 portfolios. The city is governed by a senate or council elected by the people, and a burgomaster appointed by the king. - Amsterdam is more noted as a trading than as a manufacturing town, though it has numerous manufactories of tobacco, soap, oil, cordage, canvas, steam engines and machinery, etc. There are also refineries of sugar and salt, glass works, breweries, and distilleries; and ship-building is extensively carried on.

The entrances and clearances of vessels in 1868 were about 3,000, with 850,000 tonnage; and the greater part of the foreign trade of Holland, which amounted in 1868 to an aggregate value of about $150,000,-000, passes through the port of Amsterdam. The chief articles of export are butter and cheese; other exports consist of products of the rich Dutch colonies, refined, and raw sugar, coffee, spices, tin, oil, dyes, colors, fruit, vegetables, and flowers. The exports to Germany and England are the most prominent. By the Amstel, the Zuyder-Zee, and various canals, Amsterdam has water communication with all parts of Holland; and its railroad connections are also very extensive. The Zuyder-Zee, formerly the entrance to the port, long since became too shallow for the navigation of ocean vessels, and a canal called the Nieuwe Diep was built, admitting large ships, and connecting Amsterdam with the North sea at the Helder. The navigation of this long ship canal, with its large locks shutting out the ocean tides, having been found inconvenient and expensive, a colossal plan has been formed and nearly executed of connecting the harbor and docks by a short cut through the isthmus of North Holland, digging a ship canal through the immense sand hills protecting Holland at its western shore against the North sea.

This canal, with its breakwater extending far out into the sea, will be second only in magnitude to the Suez canal. A part of the machinery that was used there has been transported to Amsterdam, and is employed in its construction. At the same time the Zuyder-Zee is to be made dry, and the inlet or arm, the Y, on which the city is situated, converted into dry land. Upon this a union railroad depot is to be constructed, where all the railroads will meet, and also the ocean vessels in the surrounding canals and docks.

The Palace of Amsterdam.

The Palace of Amsterdam.