God Created the World, But the Dutch Created the Netherlands

Horace Dediu’s presentation on the history of Amsterdam features the amazing land reclamation map above. Utrecht, which is now inland, used to be a port. And Amsterdam is where the ocean used to be. Haarlem is part of the mainland but looks to be located on what was once a barrier island.

It’s a commonplace of economics that they’re not making any more land, but this is a powerful reminder that once upon a time it was actually pretty common for technologically advanced societies to build more land. Leaving that era behind us is probably a good idea (imagine the environmental impact review!), but that only makes it all the more important to try to use the land we do have wisely.