This is the center of Utrecht, one of the old cities in the Dutch coastal plain. However, the ground level here is just above sea level, and the canals may in fact trace the route of earlier watercourses, which may account for the S-curve we see here.
Notice here that the street is just about one full story above the canal, and that a wharf has been included at the base of the wall. This arrangement is probably where I got the idea for metro-freight. It keeps the freight system separated from the surface streets and allows freight to be delivered directly into building basements on the canal side. This keeps the clutter of freight out of the streets and allows the merchants to handle the freight conveniently and on their own schedule.
In fact, waterborne delivery is making a bit of a comeback, at least in Amsterdam. Oddly, it is the courier service DHL which first implemented this service. The streets had become so congested that they needed a faster way to deliver their express packages. The solution was to use a boat to haul the packages to a wharf in each district, from which bicycle couriers make the final deliveries. The service appears to be working well for both the company and the city.
Notice how the S-curve makes the scene much more alive and interesting.
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