‘Nineteen Reservoirs’ Review: The Price of Water in New York City – The Wall Street Journal

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https://www.wsj.com/articles/nineteen-reservoirs-review-the-price-of-water-in-newyork-city-11659652258
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As an author, essayist and historian of the urban demimonde, Lucy Sante is a cultural rover of the old school. Across the Belgium native’s four-decade career, nothing, it seems, has escaped her purview: the French Surrealists and 1960s garage rock, street photography and early New Orleans jazz, Victor Hugo and David Wojnarowicz. Ms. Sante has written some of the most elegantly incisive cultural essays to be found in glossy magazines and literary quarterlies alike. She is an endlessly curious writer with a sharp wit and an elegant prose style.
So it only follows that her latest effort, “Nineteen Reservoirs: On Their Creation and the Promise of Water for New York City”—which tells the tangled history of the waterworks that continue to provide New York with its potable supply—would be an ideal fit for a writer who has an abiding interest in the built environment and how it influences our daily lives. Alas, “Nineteen Reservoirs” feels half-cocked. Which is a shame, as the subject matter is rich and fascinating. It’s also timely, given that huge swaths of the country are presently grasping for water that isn’t there, and reservoirs in the West and elsewhere have approached dead-pool level.
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This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. Distribution and use of this material are governed by our Subscriber Agreement and by copyright law. For non-personal use or to order multiple copies, please contact Dow Jones Reprints at 1-800-843-0008 or visit www.djreprints.com.

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