[UCP Books]: City Water, City Life: Water and the Infrastructure of Ideas in Urbanizing Philadelphia, Boston, and Chicago

“A fascinating history of the ideas about nature, health, citizenship, and time that informed the construction of some of America’s earliest and greatest water systems.”Michael Rawson, author of Eden on the Charles: The Making of Boston


Now in Paperback 

City Water, City Life 

Water and the Infrastructure of Ideas in Urbanizing Philadelphia, Boston, and Chicago
Carl Smith
Publication date: 15 April 2014 ISBN-13: 978-0-226-15159-5
International publication date: 5 May 2014 Cloth $22.50/£16.00


“A crucially important new chapter in US urban history. With impeccable research, Carl Smith seamlessly synthesizes nineteenth-century issues of politics, engineering, finance, aesthetics, law, and medicine—all focused on the creation of water systems in three major cities and all coalescing around the idea of the greater good of the public at large.”
Cecelia Tichi, Vanderbilt University


“City Water, City Life is a gem of a book, a tightly focused meditation on the antebellum city’s ‘infrastructure of ideas.’ By masterfully compressing myriad period sources, Carl Smith makes major contributions to our understanding of American society and culture.”
Harold Platt, Loyola University Chicago


“A wonderfully perceptive book that provides new insights into the development and implications of water supply in Boston, Chicago, and Philadelphia.”
Joel A. Tarr, Carnegie Mellon University


Carl Smith is the Franklyn Bliss Snyder Professor of English and American Studies and professor of history at Northwestern University. His books include The Plan of Chicago: Daniel Burnham and the Remaking of the American City. He is available for interviews. Please contact Carrie Olivia Adams at (773) 702-4216 or cadams@press.uchicago.edu



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