Thanks to a suggestion from reader John Redford, this weekend I took a bike ride over to the Metropolitan Waterworks Museum in Chestnut Hill, Boston, for a look at some heroic public works.

If you like Richardsonian Romanesque public buildings containing some behemoth steam engines, all spruced up and ready to go, this is the place for you.

Quite the popular style, until suddenly it wasn'tBut it's what inside that makes this place great.  Three multistory steam engines, two of them triple expansion, which means they have three cylinders, each one larger than the previous one, since it works on the lower-pressure exhaust of the first. At the far end is the newest engine, the Allis:

This is just the bottom of the thing.Another viewDid people spend a lot of time protesting "Big Steam"? Yeah, they did.View from the balconyI went by myself--not a lot of people like hanging out in places like this. And I had it almost entirely to myself.  It also has some thoughtfully designed display screens with animated cutaway diagrams of the various engines. Great fun.  Thanks for the suggestion, John.