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Bill Thayer

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Report on the Drainage of the City of New Orleans
by the
Advisory Board appointed by Ordinance No. 8327, adopted by the City Council, November 24, 1893.a

Members of Board:

This is the technical report issued in 1895 that, as subsequently modified of course, even today forms the basis for the drainage system of New Orleans: its canals, outfalls, and pumping stations. Its recommendations were by and large adopted, and work started immediately, the first drainage section being completed in 1901, as reported in the public press (see the article in Collier's Weekly) and the bulk of the system being in place in 1913, as reported by the Mayor of New Orleans and elsewhere (see the paper read by him to the convention of the League of American Municipalities).



Statement of General Requirements

Essential Factors for Solving the Problem

Project Recommended

Prosecution of Work; its Proper Order and Extent

Estimates of Cost


Definitions and Descriptions of Names and Terms applied to different parts of the work

Statement of Measures which have been taken, from time to time, relative to the Improvement of the Drainage of the City of New Orleans, and a Description of its Existing Condition

Topographical Survey

Rain-fall Gauging

Run‑off Gauging


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Technical Details

Edition Used

An exemplar of what was presumably the original and only edition, in 106 pages plus maps, printed in New Orleans by T. Fitzwilliam & Co., printers, 324 Camp Street, 1895. It is in the public domain; details here on the copyright law involved.


As almost always, I retyped the text by hand rather than scanning it — not only to minimize errors prior to proofreading, but as an opportunity for me to become intimately familiar with the work, an exercise which I heartily recommend: Qui scribit, bis legit. (Well-meaning attempts to get me to scan text, if successful, would merely turn me into some kind of machine: gambit declined.)

This transcription is being minutely proofread. In the table of contents above, sections the text of which I believe to be completely errorfree are shown on blue backgrounds; any red backgrounds indicate that the section has not received that second final proofreading: illustrations and notes may also be missing. The header bar at the top of the webpage for each section will remind you with the same color scheme.

Inevitably, the printed report sports a few typographical errors. Those I could fix, I did, marking the correction each time with one of these: º. If for some reason I could not fix the error, I marked it º: as elsewhere on my site, glide your cursor over the bullet to read the variant. Similarly, bullets before measurements provide conversions to metric, e.g., 10 miles. Inconsistencies in punctuation have been corrected to the report's usual style, in slightly brighter blue — barely noticeable on the page, but it shows up in the sourcecode as <SPAN CLASS="emend">. Finally, a number of odd spellings, curious turns of phrase, etc. have been marked <!‑‑ sic ‑‑> in the sourcecode, just to confirm that they were checked. Any other mistakes, please drop me a line, of course: especially if you have the printed report in front of you.

Pagination and Local Links

For citation and indexing purposes, the pagination is indicated by local links in the sourcecode. The pagination is also cued for the reader, in the right margin of the text at the page turns (like at the end of this linep57). Sticklers for total accuracy will of course find the anchor at its exact place in the sourcecode.

In addition, I've inserted a number of other local anchors: whatever links might be required to accommodate the report's own cross-references, as well as a few others for my own purposes. If in turn you have a website and would like to target a link to some specific passage of the report, please let me know: I'll be glad to insert a local anchor there as well.

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Site updated: 15 Sep 05