The Works

The Works

I don't know if The Works: Anatomy of A City is for everyone but it is for anyone who has the slightest inclination to be an infrastructure nerd, or for that matter any New Yorker who has wondered “hey now how does that work?”The Works is, perhaps not surprisingly, about how public works in large cities work, as demonstrated by the city of New York. The book is divided up into five section; moving people, moving freight, power, communications, keeping it clean and the future.

Although I found all the sections fascinating, some were more intriguing than others. So much has been written about the history of the New York City subway system that there was little in the public transit part of the moving people chapter that interested me or was completely new. The information about car commuters; however, was almost all brand new, since this isn't nearly as sexy a subject. I wish they'd included more information about the ferry system though. Most non New Yorkers only know about the Staten Island Ferry and think that it crashes all the time since when it does crash, it makes big huge news.

The communications section was a bit outdated, since most people I know in New York do not rely on their landline for communication at all, if they even have a landline. Although older people are disportionately more likely to have a land line, it's still often a secondary form of communication; if the whole land line communication system broke down, most New Yorkers would have to go to their offices before they even noticed.

Most interesting to me was the keeping it clean section: more about New York's sewage and garbage than you ever needed to know! Just the same, interesting and important stuff.