Abstract

The New River Company was founded in London in the early seventeenth century to provide water for its inhabitants through a network of pipes. Although it grew slowly at first, after 1660 the company began to take on tens of thousands of customers. The company’s rapid expansion caused it serious problems in distribution, forcing it to re-evaluate its strategy for distributing water. Relying on the recommendations of Christopher Wren and others, the company reorganized its network by adopting a host of technological and business measures. In doing so, it was forced to work increasingly by designing individual components in light of their effects on the whole network. This integrated design stabilized the infrastructure sufficiently to allow its further growth in the eighteenth century. In the early nineteenth century, London’s water supply infrastructure explicitly became a model for water networks and other kinds of large-scale urban infrastructure elsewhere in the world.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1097-3729
Print ISSN
0040-165X
Pages
pp. 704-737
Launched on MUSE
2015-09-17
Open Access
No
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