Fountains in Dijon
After Darcy's graduation he was assigned by the Corps to a position in the Department of Jura, which bordered Côte d'Or. At the specific request of the Prefect of Côte d'Or, he was transferred to Dijon. It seems curious that a 23 year old, junior engineer received such treatment. His latter relative, Paul Darcy attributed it to his already established reputation, but it seems more likely that that his family still had influence with the Prefecture. Within two years, in 1828 he married Henriette Carey. She was an English native from the Isle of Guernesey, whose family was living in Dijon. They remained together until his death, and Henriette never remarried.
At this point it may be appropriate to comment on Darcy's name. It was Henry Philibert Gaspard Darcy; not Henri. The proper spelling may be seen in the title page of Les Fontaines Publiques de la Ville de Dijon, and on his grave (Phillip, 1995). Alan Freeze (1994) has speculated that since Darcy's English wife spelled her name as the French Henriette, he may have had assumed the English Henry. However, Fancher (1956) has published an 1821 school portrait of Darcy that appears to carry the original title, "Henry Darcy". In should be noted that after his death, some French publications introduced the spelling "Henri", but his own family has never used anything but Henry.
Some have spelled his last name d'Arcy. That is also wrong; check his papers and his grave. However, he started his life with that aristocratic spelling. After his father's death, both Henry and Hughes had a private tutor, who lent their mother money. A Jacobian opposed to the aristocracy and all things aristocratic, he forced the boys to change the spelling to Darcy (Paul Dacy, 1957). All in all, a hyphen was probably a small price to pay for an education.
The 1830 revolution was followed by the 18 years of relative stability, prosperity and moderate rule of the constitutional ruler, King Louis Philippe (the Duke of Orleans). As each ruler before him since Napoleon, Louis Philippe supported building projects to provide visible evidence of the value of his authority. His policies combined with the continuing advances of the industrial revolution, brought steady improvement to the country.
After his return to Dijon Darcy's first task would prove instrumental in focusing his engineering experience and research in hydraulics. He set out to provide a clean, dependable water supply to the city. The city had perhaps the worst water in Europe (Paul Darcy, 1957). A number of proposals had been made, but each had design flaws. He reviewed the previous designs and set out to develop one that worked. In 1834 Darcy published "Rapport A M. le Maire et au Conseil Municipal de Dijon sur les Moyens de Fournir L'Eau Necessaire a Cette Ville" (Report to the Mayor and the Town Council of Dijon on the Means of Providing Necessary Water to the City). His design provided for the collection of 8 m3/min at the spring of the Rosoir. The water was then carried in a 12.7 km underground aqueduct to a covered 5,700 m3 reservoir located near the Porte Guillaume and another reservoir at Montmusard. Local distribution lines totaling 28,000 m were lain underground and delivered water to public fountains, hospitals and major buildings. One hundred and forty two street fountains were spaced 100 m apart.
His plan for Dijon's water supply was approved by the Municipal Council with no revision on March 5, 1835. On December 31, 1835, a Royal ordinance declared the Dijon water project a public utility, which allowed for land acquisition. The construction contract was awarded in July, 1838 and work began the following year on March 21, 1839. Thus, about five years had past between Darcy's initial report and building inauguration. While the project had proceeded slowing, his career had not. In May of 1840 Darcy was appointed Chief Engineer for the Department of Côte d'Or.
Once initiated, work proceeded very quickly. On September 6, 1840, water was delivered to the Reservoir of the Porte Guillaume, 535 days after construction start. The speed of work would suggest that Darcy had done extensive preparation during the five previous years, and possibly, some features were started earlier. In any case, the construction of the covered aqueduct in that period implies an impressive average daily rate of 24 m/day. Work on water distribution and delivery components continued until 1844, when the project was substantially completed.
Darcy incorporated the St. Pierre Basin Fountain into the Dijon water system (Darcy 1856; Plate 19, Figure 1). Separate valves controlled the inner and other jets, which allowed variations in both the height and shape of the display. It was an impressive technological feat for the day as evidenced by the report of Dumay (1845), "On July 28, 1841, in the middle of the rejoicing of a public festival, a fountain made up of 17 jets that exceeds 13 meters in height, sprang majestically at the entrance of one of our promenades, and for that time has not ceased to bring the admiration of foreigners who visit our beautiful city." Darcy was not content with just enjoying the display. His 1856 report devoted several pages to a theoretical analysis and experimental verification of the jet flow as a function of the height of the water system's two reservoirs.
As construction drew to a close, Darcy began to receive recognition for his efforts. On August 31, 1842 Henry was awarded the Legion of Honor after recommendation by the Prefect of Côte d'Or and the Minister of the Interior. At the project completion, he accepted a gold medal from the Municipal Council, and a laurel wreath from the workmen. This was followed two years later in 1846 by a Municipal Council resolution to provide him free water for life.
The source of Darcy's popularity was twofold. First, the project was a success and the quality of life for the citizens of Dijon must have been noticeably improved. Paul Darcy wrote,
The picture at left shows a Paris street, which would have been typical for all cities at that time. Clearly, as the provider of clean water for drinking and flushing the sewers, Darcy would be a popular guy. His contribution is even more significant when it is considered that Paris did not obtain similar service until roughly 20 years later after the massive urban renewal of Haussmann. Dijon was no longer a backwater, it was a leader.
The second factor in Darcy's popularity
was his unselfish nature. As designer and project manager of the
water system, he was entitled to a fee of 55,000 francs. He refused
that payment, and took the laurel wreath and medal instead. Phillip
(1995) estimates that in current dollars the fee would equal about
$1,500,000. While turning down that money, he repaid with interest
his scholarship at the Polytechnic. All accounts of Darcy describe
his "désintéressement". The word carries
more meaning than the English "disinterest". It implies
the complete suspension of one's own selfish interests. The inscription
on his medal provides a good indication of the public's opinion
of him (edited from Phillip, 1995),
While Darcy had earned well-deserved prestige
and authority, he and France would soon enter a most difficult
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