The Works: Anatomy of a City

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Read Kate Ascher's posts on the Penguin Blog.

A fascinating guided tour of the ways things work in a modern city

Have you ever wondered how the water in your faucet gets there? Where your garbage goes? What the pipes under city streets do? How bananas from Ecuador get to your local market? Why radiators in apartment buildings clang? Using New York City as its point of reference, The Works takes readers down manholes and behind the scenes to explain exactly how an urban infrastructure operates. Deftly weaving text and graphics, author Kate Ascher explores the systems that manage water, traffic, sewage and garbage, subways, electricity, mail, and much more. Full of fascinating facts and anecdotes, The Works gives readers a unique glimpse at what lies behind and beneath urban life in the twenty-first century.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Most of us are unaware of the infrastructure that makes our lives possible. We flick on a switch; a light goes on. We put out the garbage; it disappears. Without a second thought, we buy bananas from Ecuador. None of these things happens magically. To urban planning expert Dr. Kate Ascher, all these things represent real-world challenges and achievements. In The Works, she takes you into the hidden infrastructure of New York City, explaining how it manages to provide more than a billion gallons of water every day to happily oblivious city dwellers. A thoroughly fascinating read.
From the Publisher
"The Works is both a reference guide and a geeky pleasure."
-Time Out New York

"It's a rare person who won't find something of interest in The Works, whether it's an explanation of how a street-sweeper works or the view of what's down a manhole."
-New York Post

Library Journal - BookSmack!
This whale of a book ostensibly illuminates how New York City operates above and below ground. Consider common things, invisible in plain sight, e.g., what goes on under sewer grates or what agencies are involved in a traffic snarl. The "Moving People" chapter has sections on streets, subways, and bridges and tunnels; "Keeping It Clean" details garbage, sewers, and water. If that sounds dry, it's anything but. You can open to any page and find a treasure trove of factoids about parking meters, railroad yards, traffic lights, the mail, sandhogs, and the submarine used to look at leaks in aqueducts. Illustrations and diagrams show graphically "how it works." If you've ever been the curious sort, this is like a little slice of nirvana. ." Douglas Lord, "Books for Dudes," Booksmack! 10/7/10
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780143112709
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 11/27/2007
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 142,291
  • Product dimensions: 8.54 (w) x 10.82 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Kate Ascher

Kate Ascher received her M.Sc. and Ph.D. in government from the London School of Economics and her B.A. in political science from Brown University. She formerly served as assistant director of the Port at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and worked overseas in corporate finance, before her previous position as executive vice president of the Economic Development Corporation for City of New York. She is currently the director of development at Vornado.

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Table of Contents

Streets 2
Subway 26
Bridges & tunnels 44
Rail freight 58
Maritime freight 68
Air cargo 80
Markets 86
Electricity 92
Natural law 110
Steam 116
Telephone 124
Moving the mail 136
The airwaves 142
Water 152
Sewage 170
Garbage 184
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 4 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 24, 2007

    Inner Workings of NYC

    I enjoyed reading this book. It gave me a full detail of the inner workings of the largest city in the United States, more than any other book that I have read. The information and illustrations were very detailed and easy to comprehend. There was one thing that I thought was missing in this book was the mention of the city,s police, fire & Port Authority services.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 18, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A look into the depths and infrastructure of New York City

    I was expecting something more general, and this focuses almost exclusively on New York City as the representative example of a city. Sometimes the information is too simple, sometimes too detailed in an uninteresting way, but there are enough curious facts, histories, procedures followed and descriptives to keep a reader's attention throughout.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 1, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 20, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews

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