What is it in the architectural styles of our old Dutch cities that so charms the visiting stranger? What else but the infinite variety in width or narrowness, the looseness of twists and curves, the pointed and obtuse angles of even our most elegant canals that tell you that they were not made but grew. It is as if a mysterious history speaks to you from every curve and narrows. You can immediately tell that no shoddy, money-hungry developer threw up that line of houses but that every dwelling is the fulfillment of a personal dream, the precious product of quiet thrift, based on a personal plan and built slowly from the ground up. Those tufted, tiered, triangular and shuttered gables ere not symmetrically measured with a level but reflected, every one of them, the thinking of a human being, the whimsicality of a somewhat overconfident human heart. The motley collection of houses bespeak a city full of architects, and precisely in that teeming variety you sense the vigor of folk life as in earlier centuries it throbbed only in the heart of Holland’s free citizens.
Abraham Kuyper, Uniformity: The Curse of Modern Life