The Works: Anatomy of a City

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Overview

How much do you really know about the systems that keep a city alive? The Works: Anatomy of a City contains everything you ever wanted to know about what makes New York City run. When you flick on your light switch the light goes on--how? When you put out your garbage, where does it go? When you flush your toilet, what happens to the waste? How does water get from a reservoir in the mountains to your city faucet? How do flowers get to your corner store from Holland, or bananas get there from Ecuador? Who is ...
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Overview

How much do you really know about the systems that keep a city alive? The Works: Anatomy of a City contains everything you ever wanted to know about what makes New York City run. When you flick on your light switch the light goes on--how? When you put out your garbage, where does it go? When you flush your toilet, what happens to the waste? How does water get from a reservoir in the mountains to your city faucet? How do flowers get to your corner store from Holland, or bananas get there from Ecuador? Who is operating the traffic lights all over the city? And what in the world is that steam coming out from underneath the potholes on the street? Across the city lies a series of extraordinarily complex and interconnected systems. Often invisible, and wholly taken for granted, these are the systems that make urban life possible.

The Works: Anatomy of a City offers a cross section of this hidden infrastructure, using beautiful, innovative graphic images combined with short, clear text explanations to answer all the questions about the way things work in a modern city. It describes the technologies that keep the city functioning, as well as the people who support them-the pilots that bring the ships in over the Narrows sandbar, the sandhogs who are currently digging the third water tunnel under Manhattan, the television engineer who scales the Empire State Building's antenna for routine maintenance, the electrical wizards who maintain the century-old system that delivers power to subways.

Did you know that the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge is so long, and its towers are so high, that the builders had to take the curvature of the earth's surface into account when designing it? Did you know that the George Washington Bridge takes in approximately $1 million per day in tolls? Did you know that retired subway cars travel by barge to the mid-Atlantic, where they are dumped overboard to form natural reefs for fish? Or that if the telecom cables under New York were strung end to end, they would reach from the earth to the sun? While the book uses New York as its example, it has relevance well beyond that city's boundaries as the systems that make New York a functioning metropolis are similar to those that keep the bright lights burning in big cities everywhere.

The Works is for anyone who has ever stopped midcrosswalk, looked at the rapidly moving metropolis around them, and wondered, how does this all work?

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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: 9781594200717
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 11/3/2005
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 8.82 (w) x 11.22 (h) x 0.83 (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.

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