The streets as originally laid out were wide and spacious, but being unpaved and undrained they were no better than mud tracks diversified by piles of garbage and foul-smelling stagnant pools.
The rapidity with which walls, piles and pontoons - stone, wood and iron - become covered with marine plants is well known, while the discovery of some effective means of preventing the fouling of the bottoms of ships by the growth of algae would be hailed as a boon by shipowners.
When piles were used they were the rough stems of trees of a length proportioned to the depth of the water, sharpened sometimes by fire and at other times chopped to a point by hatchets.
The piles of old London Bridge were of elm, and after six centuries of immersion were but little decayed.
Into the sea, and is composed of Norwegian granite and Belgian limestone, strengthened at intervals by projecting jetties of piles and fascines.
The remains of the stockade round the margin were of vertical piles mortised into horizontal bars, and secured by pegs in the mortised holes.
On the other hand, when the bottom was rocky so that the piles could not be driven, they were steadied at their bases by being enveloped in a mound of loose stones, in the manner in which the foundations of piers and breakwaters are now constructed.
Formerly when bridge piers had to be placed where a firm bearing stratum could only be reached at a considerable depth, a timber cofferdam was used in which piles were driven down to the firm stratum.
Distant from Venice, and can only be reached by a long and tortuous channel across the lagoon, whose course is marked out by those groups of piles which are so characteristic a feature of the lagoon landscape.
Sand is thus blown or pumped from below the piles, which are thus easily lowered in ground which baffles all attempts to drive in piles by blows.