Best forgotten local holiday|
On October 25, 1848, 100,000 Bostonians gathered on the Boston Common and presumably gasped in unison as an 80-foot column of water gushed from the Frog Pond. Cannons fired. Bells rang out from church steeples across the city. The occasion? The delivery of water from Lake Cochituate (some 18-plus miles west) to the city of Boston via a pipeline straight to a reservoir atop Beacon Hill (on lots now occupied by a State House extension). The dirty/thirsty urban masses had good reason to celebrate, and Mayor Josiah Quincy wasn't going to pass up the opportunity to flood the city with good will. Water Day was observed, by mayoral decree, in grand early-Victorian style. One hundred guns saluted the dawn. A local curio museum built a 50-foot temporary triumphal arch (graffitied with water-related quotes from Shakespeare) across Tremont Street and donated two taxidermy elephants to the Water Parade that passed through it. James Russell Lowell, riding the publicity wave following the publication that year of his epic Arthurian poem, The Vision of Sir Launfal, composed a song to welcome the MetroWest flow -- "My name is water: I have sped/Through strange, dark ways untried before ..." (rhymed with "Cochituate's ambassador") -- and a chorus of schoolchildren sang it. Patriots' Day has its place. Even Evacuation Day has a following. Water Day, though, has been completely neglected, and Bostonians take their water for granted. But a celebration of plumbing is no small accomplishment, and we could use a late-October holiday.
Fans of pipe and mindless spectacle are encouraged to petition the Boston City Council (City.Council@cityofboston.gov) to reinstate Water Day.