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Archive for Friday, June 15, 2012

40 years ago: 20-foot cisterns discovered under Mass Street

June 15, 2012

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From the Lawrence Daily Journal-World for June 15, 1972:

The latest historical find from the excavation of Massachusetts Street was a very deep hole. Workers at the downtown beautification project had discovered an old brick-lined cistern, about 20 feet deep and still filled with five or six feet of water, in the middle of the 900 block of Mass. Such cisterns, kept filled with river water, had once been the main source of firefighting in Lawrence's early days. According to local history writer Elfriede Fischer Rowe, in the days before water mains and fire hydrants, large cisterns had been dug "at each intersection on Massachusetts Street, and one in the middle of each block from the river to 11th Street" as well as one each at the Union Pacific Depot, 11th and Kentucky, and Seventh and Louisiana. Water for the tanks had been hauled by hand until the 1880s but were kept available even after the city Water Works was built. Today, workers planned to either "cap" the cistern or fill it with sand before installing the new street paving Work was also anticipated to begin next week on the new "sawtooth" or "zig-zag" curb design. (For the curious, John Scanlan of Constant Construction Company explained that the "zag" was the portion sticking out into the street, while the "zig" was the part of the curb closer to the buildings.)

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