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Water for Gotham: a history by Gerard T. Koeppel - Essay Example

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Water for Gotham:A History,the author,Gerard Koeppel, examines the long history of water deficiencies in the city of New York. In a long, tantalizing and well-documented history from the troubled times of 1800,when New York was reeling under the cholera epidemic,to now,the author has done a really creditable job in this book…
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Water for Gotham: a history by Gerard T. Koeppel
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Download file to see previous pages Water for Gotham:A History,the author,Gerard Koeppel, examines the long history of water deficiencies in the city of New York. In a long, tantalizing and well-documented history from the troubled times of 1800,when New York was reeling under the cholera epidemic,to now,the author has done a really creditable job in this book. The history of water deficiency in New York City has been systematically researched, documented and presented - and most of all, the dry nature of the topic never bothers the reader. Koeppel has not only succeeded in making the book a delightful read, he has filled the reader's mind with an infectious curiosity to know more and more, with each passing phase.This much neglected and overlooked point is the focus of Koeppel's book. His entire documentation is well-presented in the entire work, and is very well-supported throughout with examples and anecdotes. He opens the book with a gory description of the Asiatic cholera which struck New York in 1800, leaving scores dead with each passing day. The author takes into account every single detail of the epidemic - including how it originated in India, how it spread to the west through trade routes, and how helpless doctors and authorities felt. The opening chapter of the book, "Give us Cold Water," deals with the epidemic itself. The chapter starts with the description of how a healthy family, the Fitzgeralds, who had emigrated from Canada to New York, succumbed to cholera and disappeared among the faceless, countless millions who had died, gasping for water.
The author recounts many incidents in the book, some of which are his own personal anecdotes. Apart from those, he also draws upon primary sources, such as the "Cholera Bulletin," "The Description of the Canals and Railroads of the United States," and The Edinburgh Encyclopedia, among others. Koeppel's extensive research is reflected in his vast bibliography and his step-by-step account of how New Yorkers were suffering at that time.
After filling the reader's mind with an unimaginable New York, the author reveals the irony of the whole situation. In fact, he writes, "Water, water, everywhereelse" .The delicate situation is well-explained and researched. Manhattan was surrounded by salty water on all sides, and there was not a drop of fresh water available to the residents. Such a difficult situation aggravated the situation even more, since the lack of access to fresh, clean water is similar to being deprived of fresh air.
It was in 1832, Koeppel says, that cholera was first thought of as a possible waterborne disease. Doctors who were working overtime to grasp the situation now focused on the issue of fresh water and stressed the importance of hygiene. It was only then that New Yorkers realized the vital importance of the presence of fresh water, and devised upon ways to access the vital resource.
Koeppel, apart from researching a very difficult topic, has done everything to make it exciting. The book has all the prerequisites of a novel - a scheming corporate monopoly, a suffering public, and the triumph of the public in the end - which makes the book an inspiring read as well.
The author reveals how the Manhattan Company, founded in 1799 by Aaron Burr and other prominent New Yorkers, controlled the waterworks industry for an overwhelming forty years - and recounts how the public's suffering became aggravated due to its helplessness. The Manhattan Company, which owed its social responsibility, had to come up with solutions for the sorry situation. After many hiccups and problems - which are very well documented by the author - the Company came up with a solution to end the water crisis by bringing in the water from the Bronx River. The author shows how this proposal was always going to be unsuccessful, due to its short-sightedness and inadequacy, making New Yorkers increasingly irate and desperate.
Thus, after the failure of the Manhattan Company's proposal to bring in Bronx water, it was essential to ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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