Far more rarely open to visitors, but worth it if the stars align and you're into infrastructure: Its sister Abbey Mills is still a working sewage pump site, now run off much more modern and thus in some sense "boring" electrical pumps but still really fascinating if you're an infrastructure nerd.
Was it just a given that you would put art into anything you built?
 - “When you’re a carpenter making a beautiful chest of drawers, you’re not going to use a piece of plywood on the back, even though it faces the wall and nobody will ever see it. You’ll know it’s there, so you’re going to use a beautiful piece of wood on the back. For you to sleep well at night, the aesthetic, the quality, has to be carried all the way through.” - Steve Jobs
If you go to the Manchester Museum of Science and Technology, they have cotton looms that have doric columns - there is no earthly reason for that (indeed today we'd use tubular or box section) other than the sheer joy of doing it.
It must have been a hell of a thing to have been alive from 1860 to 1930 (if we exclude all the negatives).
Sure, some was projecting success, or the confidence of their age, but there seems to have been an expectation things would last. As an awful lot has. Half of many city's buildings are well past a century, little built post-war is likely to get that far.
It was an age where they were trying to leave things better - to their definition of better. Now it seems we're in an age of leaving things cheapened, not necessarily cheaper, but more profitable.
I'm not a fan of the current lowest cost beats all fashion.
It houses, if I remember correctly, the largest triple expansion steam engine in running order.
x: depends on the control theory dynamics of the system. It can also reach a stable state.
For example in London they'll say we should have built a modern sewer system with separate household waste and storm sewers, then you can dump storm sewer overflow into the river without causing health problems or destroying the ecology of the river. Much better in the long run than the Combined Sewer system built by Bazalgette and still in use today.
But nothing like that was possible when the Great Stink happened. So you need to invent a time machine and go back to say, a century or two earlier and begin installing your separate sewer systems then, in time to catch the huge increase in waste from water closets that will eventually cause the Great Stink. Do you _have_ a time machine? No? Then your solution is invalid, don't bring it up.
A very good example of it working is that of the "Mother of All Demos":
...during which virtually almost all of the software solutions and systems, and some of the hardware - of the 1980s forward - was pulled back in time by 20 years - which is a long damn time when it comes to computing - comparable to "centuries" for more mundane things.
Granted - and here is one of the downfalls - many of the paradigms and examples from that demo "stuck" - and arguably all this time later has perhaps made us be in a "rut", versus other possibilities. Though a possibility, our systems are still arguably better and work well enough.
We could do this with more mundane (and arguably more pressing) things, if the political will of society were there. We could say "For problem X, what solution Y in the future might be best to mitigate this, and could we build solution Y today?" - and if the answer is "yes" then doing so.
A counter argument could be "What if problem X doesn't happen? Or worse, what if problems A, B or C occur, which solution Y won't address?"
Well - let's instead think of all potential sub-problems or potential problems of the same set as the singular; that is, if the problem is X, attempt to imagine the set which X is a part of, and attempt to imagine a potential solution or solutions to fix that set of problems. You may not get all of them, or you may have to break things up into subsets with individual solutions - but there's a good chance that you'll hit on the majority of them.
Now granted - one could just go up another level and say "what if none of those happen, or what if the solutions don't work?" - reducto-ad-absurdum the whole thing to death. Perhaps "paralysis by choices" (yeah, I know that's been disproven)?
The thing is, likely some or most of those things will help in some regard, depending on the problem. Done right, even if the problem doesn't appear, the solution(s) may help in other ways unforeseen, or they may have effects which interact with other things to create a solution to problems. Yes, they could make things worse.
The gamble is the tradeoff between doing nothing and hoping nothing happens, and imagining solutions and doing something to try to fix those problems. Especially considering for some problems, we have historical data to show that those problems are likely real, and aren't going away, and modelling the effects without doing anything vs doing something tends to fall on the side of "doing something" is better than "doing nothing".
It's one thing if the problem is brand new, with no historical data behind it to show what has happened, what is happening, and what potentially might happen. When that data does exist for a problem or problem(s) - doing nothing, and then blaming someone else when the problems in the future do become bad, is ultimately the wrong way to go about things.
But it does serve to keep one elected and popular (usually, provided the problem doesn't become severe while you are still alive and known for your past decisions or indecisions by the public).
"In the 1880s further fears over possible health concerns because of the outfalls led to the MBW purifying sewage at Crossness and Beckton, rather than dumping the untreated waste into the river, and a series of six sludge boats were ordered to ship effluent into the North Sea for dumping. The first boat commissioned in 1887 was named the SS Bazalgette; the procedure remained in service until December 1998, when the dumping stopped and an incinerator was used to dispose of the waste."
SS Floater would have been a good one.
Another interesting note of history in the United states, specifically, the Cuyahoga river was so polluted that it caught fire at least a dozen times. The resulting damage was significant enough that it became a rallying point for the creation of the EPA in the 60s/70s.
90 years, dear Hacker News colleagues. That's engineering. Is the stuff you and I did today going to last that long?
This is widely considered to be one of the first modern geospatial analayses to be conducted. It’s interesting how urban problems in London have led to advancement in various scientific fields.
Fun times walking between Old Street and Farringdon...
In summer, on residential streets where bins are kept next to the street the stench can be something...
Highly recommended viewing if you can find it.