The Great Aqueduct

WRITTEN BY: GRACIA, SAMUEL AND VENN (L02)

What is an Aqueduct?

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Join the great adventure to solve the water crisis in Los Angeles! Follow us as we bring back the glory of Roman aqueducts which brought great convenience to the Ancient Romans. With the help of the famous Roman engineer, Vitruvius, aqueducts have proven to be a timeless system that can be useful even in the 21st century.

So come and educate yourself with this Crash Course on Roman Aqueducts!

If anyone is interested, do take a look at our script just by clicking here!

WHO WAS VITRUVIUS?

Marcus Vitruvius Pollio, better known as Vitruvius, was a Roman architect who worked for both Caesar and Augustus during the 1st century BCE. He was also an author, civil engineer and military engineer who was a great admirer of Greek architecture. In this post we described Vitruvius as a great architect (which he definitely was), but in reality he made a name for himself because he was the author of the celebrated treatise De Architectura, a handbook for Roman architects which is his only surviving work.

The De Architectura is regarded as an invaluable technical handbook for many students of classical antiquity, and includes Vitruvius's famous declaration that a well designed structure must possess the three attributes of firmitas, utilitas, venustas – it must be strong, useful, and beautiful.

1521 Cesare Cesariano Italian translation of De Architectura Libri Decem (The Ten Books on Architecture) by Marcus Vitruvius Pollio.  Preserved in the Smithsonian Museum of Americam History. 1 December 2008. By Mark Pellegrini [CC-BY-SA-2.5], via Wikimedia Commons

1521 Cesare Cesariano Italian translation of De Architectura Libri Decem (The Ten Books on Architecture) by Marcus Vitruvius Pollio.  Preserved in the Smithsonian Museum of Americam History. 1 December 2008. By Mark Pellegrini [CC-BY-SA-2.5], via Wikimedia Commons

Hi everyone! Daddy Boss here. I am going to briefly explain about how aqueducts were very significant to Los Angeles!

THE L.A. water PROBLEM

In the late 18th century, Los Angeles was established as a small settlement and it relied mainly on its own river for water supplies. However as the city expanded and developed, it became apparent that the river’s water supply would be inadequate if L.A. were to become a leading metropolis. This was further worsened in when drought hit the area around the city. In 1904, the incapacity of the Los Angeles River to remain as a constant source of water for the growing city’s population of 175,000 became a major issue because water consumption actually exceeded the river capacity by more than 4 million gallons.

As a result, finding an alternative water source became the top concern, and the Board of Water Commissioners authorised engineers to locate new water supplies to cope with the people's demands. Therefore with an abundance of water on the city’s outskirts, aqueducts proved to be a vital solution.

Los Angeles carried out plans to construct a 226 mile aqueduct which would bring water from the Owens Valley directly into the city. William Mulholland was the head of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, and he spearheaded the huge project. When the aqueduct was finally completed, it was the world’s largest single water project and also the longest. The aqueduct’s design allowed water to move by gravity alone through pipes and siphons - a true testimony to the excellent methods developed in Ancient Rome which have proven to withstand the test of time. In fact, some of the pipes are big enough to hold a car!

The Second Los Angeles Aqueduct Cascades, located in Sylmar, 29 September 2008. By Los Angeles (Own Work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

At that time the population of L.A. had grown to about 300,000, but the aqueduct was capable enough to supply the city with water for millions of people, and eventually facilitated the explosive and rapid development that would characterise the region in the decades to come.

Amazing Aqueducts

Up till this very day, the aqueducts carry about 430 million gallons of water into L.A. daily and are also a source of green power, supporting several hydroelectric dams. The Los Angeles aqueducts have received widespread recognition and praise for its marvellous design, and the Ancient Romans can truly be proud of such an engineering feat that existed since their time.


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