In the first installment, we learned a little bit about the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California. In part two, we travel out of the United States to northwestern Europe to learn about the Netherlands North Sea Protection Works.
ASCE describes the North Sea Protection Works as a “vast and complex system of dams, floodgates, storm surge barriers and other engineered works [which] literally sllows the Netherlands to exist.”
A large portion of the Netherlands lies below sea level, which put many generations of the Dutch people in a precarious position. The normal tidal rise and fall of the North Sea was overwhelming for much of the country, and severe storms would cause heavy flooding and damage throughout the coastal region.
Plans for a large-scale dam and dike project emerged in the 17th century, but technology at the time was not advanced enough to start the project. It was not until the early 1900s, when a combination of technological advancements, wartime necessities, and natural disaster prompted the start of the Zuiderzee Works project.
The Zuiderzee was originally a shallow 15 ft. deep bay of the North Sea. Many lives were at risk when strong storms hit the area because important dikes would often fail. Cornelis Lely, a Dutch civil engineer, saw that the area needed man-made assistance. In 1891, he developed a plan that, through construction, would essentially transform the Zuiderzee in to a large lake.