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Fifth Avenue and 13th Street, Manhattan, January 22, 2014, 12:30 pm EST, 15 degrees F (feels like 3°), image Meridith Kruse
Last Wednesday a major water main broke under Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. The 36 inch pipe, dating to 1877, was one segment of the 7000 miles of water mains that run through New York City. Age and recent temperature fluctuations are credited for causing the burst. This particular event was prominent on our radar not only because it disrupted public transportation and flooded a number of basements, including that of The New School’s University Center slated to open this week, but also because it opened up the street to reveal otherwise hidden infrastructures that are always undergoing change. The gaping hole in the street lays bare the city’s vital connection to distant reservoirs and ancient geology (PDF) that deliver fresh water—one billion gallons of it each day—from upstate New York.
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