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The Individual and the Collective

The Individual and the Collective

Water, Urban Society, and the Public Good

(p.53) 3 The Individual and the Collective
City Water, City Life
Carl Smith
University of Chicago Press

This chapter discusses the development of the principle of public welfare from the vision of mutual regard. During the seventeenth century, the founders of the cities of Boston, Chicago, and Philadelphia, hoped to create a society based on a shared high purpose and mutual regard. This vision grew to be a democratic principle where the individual is most rewarded and fulfilled by dedication to the collective, which benefits most by respecting the rights of each of its members. At the same time, all members in the city were faced with common challenges, and one of these was the need to provide clean water for each and every one of them. Solutions for water problems, such as building waterworks, involved a continuing and contentious effort to define the public good and how it might best be served. In addition these problems, questions arose about how to charge for water and what to do with individual water wastes.

Keywords:   water, waterworks, society, Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia

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