All posts filed under: holland

Amsterdam’s Crooked Canal Houses

The canal houses in Amsterdam are an iconic feature of the city.  These tall (and often very crooked) buildings lean precariously over the narrow streets and canals, bestowing a magical and elementary fun-house quality into the cozy neighborhoods.  At first glance it seems like the entire city is a bit tipsy! The houses are often very narrow, as property was assigned value based on width during the early days of the city.  Also, the roofs of the houses are often adorned with a hook for lifing furniture into the top floors, as staircases in the city are infamously steep. Having a house that leans forward a little bit would be beneficial if you are using the hook to hoist up furniture from the ground, but why do some of the buildings lean so dramatically? The city is built below sea-level and the ground is very soft.  Most houses will shift a bit after being built (our Dutch host refered to this process as settling), and once a house has settled it will stay put for …