Friday, July 10, 2009

What Lies Beneath (Your Town)

If you've ever sat a stop light and wondered, Why won't this change? What the eff is going on? WHO'S BEHIND THIS?? You need Kate Ascher's, The Works. This amazing book explains, among other things, how mail is processed, how manholes are formed and why an 800-pound robot submarine was built to probe the Delaware Aqueduct. Think The Way Things Work for the urban set.

If The Works is New York City-centric, that's because NYC is the greatest city on earth. No. Well, maybe, but there's more to it. Ascher worked for NYC's Port Authority, and, as she mentions in this blog post, 9/11 and the subsequent infrastructure emergency inspired her to write the book. Regardless, it's sure to shed light on the many invisible machinations at play in your town.

If words about parking meters and mines aren't your thing, you can glean oodles of helpful info from the many colorful charts, graphs and diagrams. This book does for railroad classification yards what this video did for flow charts.

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