Where can I learn more about urban infrastructure systems?
November 12, 2010 3:05 PM   Subscribe

Urban Infrastructure—a Thorough Introduction: Where can a layman learn more about infrastructure: the electrical grid, water supply/sanitation, transportation/distribution, waste removal, etc.? (many others listed inside) Everything I find wants to either explain it to a 12-year-old or explain it to an engineering grad-student.

Was walking around looking at utility poles and thinking about how very little I know about these things that affect me so profoundly every second of every day.

Help me find media (books, textbooks, articles, films, etc.) that will help me understand these systems — their history, construction, operation, and maintenance — in more than just superficial ways. I'm not an engineer, but I've worked in fabrication, worked with electricity and electronics, and I have an educational background in Geography and Economics. I'm comfortable with technical concepts and with envisioning things systemically.

The areas of interest that came to me on my walk were as follows, please feel free to add any of your specialties, many of which I have no doubt missed: the electrical grid, Water supply and sanitation, transportation and distribution networks, waste removal, pipelines, air and seaports, flood control, radio/fiber-optic/other communication networks. Many thanks.
posted by jjjjjjjijjjjjjj to Science & Nature (9 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
Have you seen the field guide?
posted by circular at 3:12 PM on November 12, 2010 [5 favorites]

The book circular links to would be my first choice, but The Works: Anatomy of a City is also a good.
posted by heurtebise at 4:30 PM on November 12, 2010

also a good = also good

Sorry for the double post, but just thought of The Sanitary City, a pretty comprehensive history of sanitation and waste management in the United States.
posted by heurtebise at 4:36 PM on November 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

Seconding circular's suggestion.
posted by Good Brain at 4:37 PM on November 12, 2010

How Buildings Work by Edward Allen.
posted by fings at 4:39 PM on November 12, 2010

D'oh -- though that's more specific and less general than you asked, sorry.
posted by fings at 5:01 PM on November 12, 2010

David Macauley's Underground.
posted by zippy at 7:16 PM on November 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

Elizabeth Royte - Garbage Land
Bill Bryson - At Home
posted by djb at 7:30 PM on November 12, 2010

Seconding Infrastructure: A Field Guide to the Industrial Landscape, already mentioned by circular. It covers all the areas you mentioned, and is really enjoyable to browse or use as a reference.
posted by Emanuel at 8:11 PM on December 1, 2010

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