"A city built by the people, for the people." Indeed Amsterdam was built slowly, and over water. Sometimes referred to as "Venice of the North," one thing I would highly recommend doing in Amsterdam is a canal tour. Tourism is a huge part of the economy in this very liberal country.
Paris is known for the Eiffel Tower, London for the Big Ben, and Amsterdam? For it's atmosphere. A city where marijuana and prostitution are legal, and everybody seems to be accepted, this city became a place where people migrated to be free. Famous painters like Rambrandt found solace in Amsterdam, moving away from religious arts to focus on individual portraits. It was a city where Jews went to escape the Nazis (think Anne Frank). A city where people came to "Live and let live."
If you take a close look at the picture above, you will notice the homes to be slightly slanted. Being Amsterdam was built over water, using mostly wood as the foundation, many homes look like this. If the city decides a home needs to improve it's foundation, that is the responsibility of the home owner, and extremely expensive.
Bikes are absolutely everywhere in the city. Most people bike to work, and you have to constantly watch for them when walking around.