Utrecht, the fourth-largest city in the Netherlands, is known for its medieval architecture in the city center and its tree-lined canals. It hasn’t always been that way.
A Redditor posted a before-and-after pic showing pics of essentially the same city block in Utrecht in the r/PastAndPresentPics subreddit. The pic is titled, “Utrecht’s Renaissance: Restoring the Historic Moat and Removing the Old Highway for a Transformed Cityscape. 1980s vs 2020s.”
The pic from the ‘80s shows busy streets on either side of a highway running between them. Everything just looks gray and dreary. It doesn’t help that some of the trees in the background are missing their leaves, so the pic was probably taken in the winter.
Cut to the pic below, taken in 2022, and a canal full of boaters and paddle boarders take the place of the highway. In the place of the busy streets are trees, long grass, and a walking path. Rather than the dreary dullness of the pic from the ‘80s, the newer pic is full of color and life.
The Redditor who posted the pic added a lengthy explanation in the comments section explaining why the city restored the moat and the effects doing so had on the city.
“The old highway, which cut through the city, created a barrier and disrupted the flow of the historic district,” the Redditor posted. “This situation led to traffic congestion, noise pollution, and a diminished sense of historical continuity within the city.”
The Redditor writes that the city made the decision to restore the city’s historical character and improve the quality of life for the residents, and it appears that’s exactly what the city accomplished.
“Pedestrians and cyclists can freely traverse the once-divided areas, enjoying the picturesque views along the restored moat,” the Redditor wrote. “The reduction in traffic congestion and noise pollution has also enhanced the quality of life for residents and visitors alike.”
The Redditor finishes by stating that the city has created a more sustainable and livable urban environment, adding, “The project stands as a testament to the city’s commitment to preserving its past and embracing a greener future.”
“This is amazing!” one person commented.
Another wrote: “Wow, brilliant!!!! Best thing I’ve seen all week.”
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