National Geographic : 1937 Jan
AS LONDON TOILS AND SPINS ( Associated Press NOT CLASSIC DANCERS BUT STUDENT WAITRESSES, LEARNING TO BALANCE TRAYS GRACEFULLY On the roof of the Lyons Teashops' Building in Orchard Street, London, every would-be "nippy"-London's nickname for waitress-is put through a course in physical culture to improve her poise and carriage. The immense chain of Lyons eating places serves more people in a year than live in the United States and sells enough dishes of ice cream daily to supply every citizen of Philadelphia. One 40-year-old customer offered $25,000 cash in advance for two meals a day for the rest of his life. Another ordered a wedding cake to match his bride's leaf-brown bridal frock! city. But, for centuries, how to get enough good water was a constant problem. Even as late as the 19th century, though five or six different companies then operated, one section of London might have ample water, while its neighbors went thirsty. In this period engineers began to bore artesian wells through the clay and chalk beds that underlie London. Though hard, this water is very pure and to this day many hotels, breweries, and other large water consumers use such wells. ONLY THE THAMES CAN SLAKE MODERN LONDON'S THIRST But now London has grown so large that only the Thames can satisfy it. In 1904 the Metropolitan Water Board took over all private companies and now pumps water from the Thames and the Lea into vast artificial reservoirs, such as the Queen Mary near Staines and the King George V near Enfield. From these sources the city and districts far beyond the limits of London County now take more than 230,000,000 gallons daily. Today, if every man in London did noth ing but carry water, not enough could be brought by men on foot with buckets to meet the city's needs! So it is; whether in tropic jungles, or here in ancient London, British civilization still works, patiently, without pause, that man may live in health, happiness, and safety. Men's names-their buildings and their machines-may change. But behind the scenes, the mind of London, shrewd, bold, adventurous, is the same indomitable spirit that has made her, indisputably, the Old World's most influential city.