Philadelphia's Newest Park Is Built on Top of a Sewage Overflow Tank

Venice Island, which officially opened this month in Philadelphia, has all the amenities you might expect from a nice city park—gardens, basketball court, amphitheater—but also something unexpected: a 4 million gallon sewage overflow tank. And you know what? A park built on top of the sewer is a very good thing. » 10/17/14 3:56pm Friday 3:56pm

Saving This Sinking City Will Cost $40 Billion

Venice? Sure, it's sinking. So is Mexico City, Bangkok, and Ho Chi Minh City. But none of them are being submerged as fast as Jakarta, which is sinking as much as a few inches a year—for comparison's sake, Venice is sinking by .08 inches every year. Now, Jakarta is undertaking a three-decade-long plan to save its… » 10/15/14 3:36pm 10/15/14 3:36pm

Chicago was raised over 4 feet in the 19th century to build its sewer

In the middle of the 19th century, Chicago embarked on a quest to literally lift itself out of the mud. Water couldn't drain from the low-lying city, so its streets became impassable swamps. The most reasonable solution, Chicago decided, was just to raise the whole goddamn city by 4 to 14 feet. » 10/15/14 1:34pm 10/15/14 1:34pm

Explore the Largest Steam Pipe System in the World, Hidden Beneath NYC

In its latest adventure, New York Times' Living City series explores the city's enormous underground steam distribution system. Unlike anywhere in the world, New York hides away the largest steam system that powers all types of humidification sources, preserving museum art to even dishwashers in every restaurant… » 10/09/14 4:34pm 10/09/14 4:34pm

The US Doesn't Have Enough Railroads to Keep Up With the Oil Boom

Passenger rail has never been known for punctuality (at least in this century), but over the past year, Amtrak's long distance passenger trains have reportedly gone from being late 35 percent of the time to being late 60 percent of the time. But don't blame Amtrak—it's being forced to make way for the thousands of… » 10/09/14 3:18pm 10/09/14 3:18pm

An Arizona highway has used the metric system since the 80s

Who doesn't like a math pop quiz when driving down to the Mexican border? If you turn onto Interstate 19, which runs 63 miles (101 kilometers) from Tucson, Arizona, down to Mexico, the road signs suddenly change to metric units. Interstate 19 is a relic from a more optimistic era, when we believed all of the U.S.… » 10/07/14 5:38pm 10/07/14 5:38pm

Watch Workers Blow Up Bedrock to Make Way for NYC's Second Ave Subway

After years and years of deliberation, the first phase of the Second Avenue subway is finally getting built. The effort is a lot more complex than you'd even imagine. The New York Times takes us behind the scenes in its third installment of the Living City series—showing us the unintended byproduct of heavy… » 10/02/14 2:32pm 10/02/14 2:32pm

Ingenious Design Lowers the Water Under a Bridge to Let Tall Ships Pass

Most bridges are compromises: Cars want to speed low and straight across the water, but but boats want to pass under them. So we wind up with either tall bridges (expensive) or moveable bridges (clunky and awkward). But now a Dutch engineering firm has come up with a radical solution that doesn't involve the… » 9/25/14 4:20pm 9/25/14 4:20pm

A Swarm of Tiny Bots Could Inspect the Hidden Underbellies of Bridges

America's bridges are not—we're sorry to report—doing so great. Of the over 600,000 bridges in the U.S., more than half are over 30 years old, and 11 percent are structurally deficient. That makes inspecting bridges all the more important; unfortunately, the underside of a bridge is also pretty damn inaccessible to… » 9/25/14 1:15pm 9/25/14 1:15pm

Study Shows Most Serious Cyberattacks Are Coming From Inside the US

When we think about where hackers come from, China is probably the first country that comes to mind—for good reason, too. Russia's maybe next in line. But a controlled experiment by cyber security researchers shows that the vast majority of attacks actually come from a very familiar place: the United States. » 9/24/14 11:00am 9/24/14 11:00am

The U.S. once considered using 23 nuclear bombs to blast out a highway

Rising out of California's Mojave Desert are the Bristol Mountains, nearly 4,000 feet of rock blocking easy passage through the scorching desert. For decades, Route 66 and the Santa Fe Railway have had to bend south, acquiescing to the mountains' height. But in the 1960s, at the peak of atomic age, we had a plan to… » 9/23/14 4:34pm 9/23/14 4:34pm

In the 1960s California had a serious plan to take water from Alaska

It's so ungodly hot in much of California right now that you can almost hear the sun sucking what's left of our reservoirs dry. But if a group of engineers and politicians would have had their way in 1964, the lower 48 would be swimming in water imported from the far North—all the way from Alaska. » 9/16/14 5:39pm 9/16/14 5:39pm