The Works

2005_11_theworks.jpgAs you walk around the streets of our fair city, you’d never guess that there is truly a whole society below the concrete made up of pipes, sewer systems, electrical wiring, phone lines, cable lines, subway tunnels, traffic sensors, ancient and modern ruins, tree roots, storage rooms, etc, etc, etc.

Using interesting and quirky facts alongside well-written, organized passages and vivid imagery, Kate Ascher’s 2005 book “The Works: Anatomy of a City” will explain the infrastructure of New York to you in stunning detail. I know I am a bit late picking up the ball on this one, but while I read this last year, I just reread it and remembered what a great book it is.

Some of the interesting things you learn in the book:
– NYC once utilized a series of underground pneumatic mail tubes that transported letters between post offices in the east and west sides of Manhattan, and to Brooklyn. They remain entrenched in the ground today, but are no longer in use.
– Of the 3,200+ traffic light buttons in the city, less than a quarter of them are actually connected to anything. Traffic is controlled through a centrally located office, but it costs more to remove the deactivated buttons (roughly $400) than to just let them stay, so they are mostly all for show.
– Each day, NYC sends a 35-container car train from the Harlem River Yards in the Bronx to a landfill in Waverly Virginia, some 400 miles away.

READ THIS BOOK! You will not be sorry.

Find out more:
Gothamist Article
Penguin Press

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