The Sudbury Aqueduct runs through the woods near where I grew up, and I’ve always liked this miniature “castle” (actually an intake station). Google turned up an interesting history of the Sudbury aqueduct that brought water 16 miles to Boston for 100 years. I’m amazed at these kind of engineering projects, which is why Extreme Engineering can be such a great show (who knew container ships were so fascinating?). Unfortunately, the scope of building large software will never be as visually arresting as a towering skyscraper or an underwater tunnel.
Beyond the engineering, knowing the past of this project builds a connection that makes an otherwise unremarkable spot more vibrant. (Although this kind of local history is subject to the “pothole paradox”.) Last week we went to hear Sarah Vowell at Sanders Theatre, where she read a quote from her book “The Partly Cloudy Patriot” about history circling everything:
I was enjoying a chocolatey caffe mocha when it occurred to me that to drink a mocha is to gulp down the entire history of the New World. From the Spanish exportation of Aztec cacao, and the Dutch invention of the chemical process for making cocoa, on down to the capitalist empire of Hershey, PA, and the lifestyle marketing of Seattle's Starbucks, the modern mocha is a bitter-sweet concoction of imperialism, genocide, invention, and consumerism served with whipped cream on top. No wonder it costs so much.