Engineering: Sinking City

For eight years the West German city of Duisburg has been sinking steadily—and Duisburg's anxious citizens have cheered every lost inch. In an engineering project of constantly increasing complexity, the city is being lowered on purpose, for Duisburg must sink to live.

High & Dry. Duisburg's troubles began with the river Rhine. The city's commerce flows through its Rhine harbor, which is ringed with steel mills and swarms with barge traffic. Years ago, the river started falling. Dredging and straightening of the channel downstream had made the water flow faster, and the...

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