Here’s the urban equivalent of David Macaulay’s The Way Things Work
, an encyclopedic picture book that both shows and tells how cities operate. It’s a primer on infrastructure, covering such topics as how it is cities move people and freight, supply power, provide communications and deal (more or less) with mountains of waste. The problem is that while all cities share the need to address these things, every city is, ultimately, specific. And so Ascher’s using New York City for her model is iconic, but slightly off key when it comes to making comparisons with, say, Indianapolis. Nevertheless, a useful reference tool for budding urbanologists in search of a place to start.