By: David Macaulay
Published by: Houghton Mifflin Company
Publication Date: 1976
Series: Buildings Built to Last by David Macaulay

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Surface clues—an escaping column of steam, the tip of a ladder rising above a manhole, the rumbling of trains beneath our feet—are often the only reminders of the complex and immense root system that exists beneath the buildings and streets of a modern city.  Rarely seen, the complexity of the network of walls, columns, cables, pipes, and tunnels required to satisfy the basic needs of the city's inhabitants is difficult to imagine. Not until a subway breaks down or a water main bursts do we begin to feel the extent of our dependence on this vast hidden complex.

David Macaulay takes us on a visual journey through a city's various support systems by exposing a typical section of this network and explaining how it works.  Inventing a site at the intersection of two streets, he first shows the various kinds of foundation construction that provide support for massive city buildings and then "opens up" the street and sidewalk to picture the basic support systems: water, sewage, and drainage, electricity, steam, gas, telephone communication, and subway that are so essential to those who live and work in the city.

Once again the author brings his many talents to an unusual subject and creates an impressive book.  Through his logical approach to complex material, his clear and concise text, and fascinatingly detailed illustrations and diagrams we begin to understand and appreciate the hidden intricate network that allows cities to exist.

From the dust jacket

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