February 18, 2014

Canadian street names in Overvecht, Utrecht

Filed under: General by Orangemaster @ 9:41 am

Screen shot 2014-02-16 at 11.48.41 AM

It hit me when I motored through the Overvecht neighbourhood of Utrecht that all the street names end in ‘dreef’ (roughly, ‘avenue’ or probably ‘drive’, [click on the image for a closer look], a bit of a 1970s trend someone once told me although I don’t know if that’s true.

Since I was heading to Manitobadreef and was curious as to why the street was named after a lesser known Canadian province, I wanted to know what other streets had Canadian names. Sure, there were tons more with American states (Texasdreef, Nevadadreef, Mississippidreef) and someone should check into those, but I couldn’t possibly imagine that Manitoba was the only Canadian one.

The Overvecht wikipedia page (Dutch only) tells me that there are street names from ‘America’, which means they are probably erroneously assuming that ‘America’ also covers Canada. Then they’ll say ‘we mean North America’ and then I’d retort ‘but you’ve missed Mexico’ [still a shocker at Dutch parties, Mexico is part of North America], as Mexicodreef was bundled with the South American and Central American names’. The article has some glimmer of self-awareness by stating that Australia has been completely ignored, so it could always be worse.

Back to the Canadian names per province:

  • Manitobadreef
  • Winnipegdreef
  • That’s two for Manitoba, the province and the capital. Nicely done.

  • Ontariodreef
  • Ottawadreef
  • Torontodreef
  • Three for Ontario, the province, the nation’s capital and the province’s capital. Well done.

  • Edmontondreef
  • The capital of the province of Alberta is mentioned, but not Calgary, city of the 1988 Winter Olympics. Edmonton does have that huge mall.

  • Vancouverdreef
  • The province of British Columbia was probably too long, the metropolis gets a mention, but no Victoria, the capital, which most people have to look up. But OK, everybody knows Vancouver, host of the 2010 Winter Olympics.

  • Quebecdreef
  • The province of Quebec gets a mention, but no MontrĂ©al though, home of the 1976 Summer Olympics. The capital is Quebec City, so this is good enough.

  • Labradordreef
  • Labrador is part of the Canadian province of Newfoundland. A very odd choice, you’d think they went for the breed of dog.

  • Sint Laurensdreef
  • I’m guessing it’s part of the river names they use in Overvecht for cross streets, so decent choice.

It’s still really hard to beat a neighbourhood named after Lord of the Rings characters.

Tags: , , , ,

February 18, 2013

How to build bigger floodplains

Filed under: Nature,Sustainability by Branko Collin @ 1:08 pm

‘Room for the River’ is a Dutch state project that intends to widen the floodplains of the major rivers.

The project does something that is quite rare for the Dutch, it gives land back to the water. In 1993 and 1995 we had major river floods, the latter even leading to the evacuation of 250,000 people. Geographically, the Netherlands is a river delta, and the Dutch have always had to live with river floods. However, today the population pressure has made the consequences of floods much more expensive.

As the project website says: “The rivers are wedged between increasingly higher dikes behind which more and more people live. At the same time, the land behind the dikes has sunk. It is also raining more often and harder, causing rivers to swell. Water levels are rising and so is the chance of floods with a large impact on people, animals, infrastructure and the economy.”

The New York Times has visited one of those projects and uses it for an opinion piece on how big government is good.

Short read: The Ruimte voor de Rivier site has Nine easy infographics on how to give the river room.

(Photo: Waal beach by Rijkswaterstaat / Ruimte voor de Rivier / Martin van Lokven)

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

February 26, 2011

Bad Google! Germans want their harbour back

Filed under: General,Online by Branko Collin @ 3:19 pm

The citizens of the port of Emden want their harbour back. A minor snafu with Google Maps makes it appear that the harbour belongs to the Netherlands, not to Germany, Sueddeutsche.de reports. The city has tried to rectify the error. Spokes person Eduard Dinkela told the paper: “Google is one of the largest communications platforms on the Internet, yet I do not seem to be able to reach them.”

Although everybody agrees that it is silly to suggest the border runs through Emden’s harbour, the actual position of the border is disputed, Radio Netherlands writes:

Historically, the exact location of the border was never properly settled between the Netherlands and Germany, although nobody has ever suggested that Emden’s harbour is actually Dutch. Germany says that the border runs through the Dollard estuary, close to and just below the Dutch dykes that line it. The Dutch claim the border runs down the middle of the estuary. The issue is theoretical rather than contentious.

Tags: , , , ,

May 4, 2009

Cutter-suction dredger throws paleontologists a (mammoth) bone

Filed under: Animals,History,Science by Branko Collin @ 7:51 am

A special type of dredger used for mining sand in the Groote Wielen area of Den Bosch enabled amateur paleontologists Anton Verhagen and Dick Mol not only to add to their collection of bones, but also to keep track of the corresponding geological eras. The sand harvested by cutter-suction dredger Den Otter was to be used for building a new, nearby neighbourhood, and had to be scraped layer by layer in order to separate high-grade building sand from the rest. This method of dredging is slower, but because it separates out different types of sand early on, it’s apparently still cost-effective.

Besides bringing up sand neatly separated by geological period, the cutter-suction method has the added advantage of leaving smaller bones intact, reports De Telegraaf (Dutch). Since 2005, Verhagen and Mol found over 1,000 bones belonging to 15 separate mammals in this dig. Among them was the thigh bone of a mammoth.

Next Wednesday, Verhagen and Mol will be publishing a book called ‘De Groote Wielen: er was eens…’ (Once upon a time in De Groote Wielen) about their finds. A preview of the richly illustrated book can be found here.

(Photo: Wolfgang Staudt, some rights reserved)

Tags: , , , , ,

October 24, 2008

Amsterdam 200 years older than previously believed

Filed under: History,Science by Branko Collin @ 7:55 am

Amsterdam is 200 years older than is commonly assumed, says historical geographer Chris de Bont. The settlement was originally started in 1000 AC instead of 1200 AC, which is still pretty young. De Bont bases his conclusion on the patterns formed by old brooks. “I found the same patterns elsewhere in the region where farmers lived around the time,” De Bont told print daily Metro, “so it’s logical to assume that farmers also created the patterns in Amsterdam.”

According to Volkskrant, De Bont also claims that parts of the rivers Amstel and Zaan were dug, and that the IJ used to be a big swamp instead of a waterway. De Bont’s assertions are part of his PhD thesis which he gets to defend next Tuesday at Wageningen University.

Illustration: one of the earliest city maps of Amsterdam (1544) by Cornelis Anthonisz. after one of his own paintings. Check the larger version at Wikimedia Commons, it’s pretty detailed and a great demonstration of how little the inner city has changed in 500 years (they built a McDonald’s in the Kalverstraat and that new-fangled ‘palace’ on Dam Square, and that’s about it).

Tags: , , , , , , , ,