Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Taxes and behavior

This is supposedly the narrowest house in Amsterdam. Walking around Amsterdam, you may notice that many of the older building are quite narrow. Why? Taxes:
All structures in Amsterdam are built on pilings sunk deep into soft soil. They get added reinforcement by being built adjacent to one another, so each building "leans" on the others in a block. These pilings can be made of wood because the muck they sit in doesn't allow oxygen to to break down the wood. Way back when, people used to put in their own pilings when building a house. Not everyone was good at it, nor did many have the resources to set big pilings very deep. So houses started to lean; then whole blocks started to lean.

So the government finally said "enough" and put in pilings themselves. They taxed residents to recoup the costs. The tax was based on how wide your house was.

So, of course, you built the narrowest, longest, highest house you could.
By the way, in case you are curious how residents get furniture into the higher floors of such narrow houses, note the hook at the top. The furniture is brought in through the windows.

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