The name, Schiphol, means “ships’s hell.” The spot where Amsterdam’s airport lies is the drained lake bed of Haarlemmermeer (Lake of Haarlem). This lake had increased over centuries and regularly flooded, to the detriment and damage of Amsterdam and Leiden. In the seventeenth century, 170 windmills were estimated to be needed to drain the lake but the project was dropped due to expense. In 1836 when floods once again assaulted Amsterdam and Leiden, the central government began the effort to drain the lake using three steam-driven pumps. Amsterdam’s airport is now on the site, named after a lake where many ships were wrecked. Hopefully, the name bears the exact opposite for predictions regarding ships of the sky.
Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.