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The Sewers of Paris

The Sewers of Paris - Sticking with this metaphor the city...

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1 Will Roper The Sewers of Paris HIST 210 This week’s reading covered the development of sewer systems and takes the sewer system as a base for explaining and appreciating urban planning and layout. I always considered sewers to be an significant achievement of urban sanitation for man, but I never, as this paper does, thought that the implications of an improved sewer system stretched far beyond drainage and sanitation. The author speaks with reverence to these “intricate and multi-layered symbols of the modern metropolis” and by the end of the article, I saw what he meant. The author uses a lot of metaphors relating the sewer systems to the human body, such as comparing the sewers to the organs of humans. Just as they too are not seen by the light of day, they are also vital to a city’s health and smooth functioning. Both keep people moving smoothly without taking anything from the exterior beauty whether it be of a human or city.
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Unformatted text preview: Sticking with this metaphor, the city became very sick before the improvements were made. Cholera outbreaks were rampant and threatened to bring Parisian life to a standstill. After substantial changes and many francs later, the Paris sewers allowed economic and urban development to continue to grow and prosper. The article was written with a “butterfly effect” mindset, but the butterfly was larger, more obvious, and smellier. Disease, more specifically cholera, was affecting the city very deeply and the solution could only come from the root of the problem. Paris’s organs got revamped and its digestive system was back on track allowing it to develop smoothly. The sewers have generally been associated with non-pleasant things, and while I still have no desire to go for a stroll down one, I see their importance to society’s continuing evolution....
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