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This article in SSSAJ

  1. Vol. 59 No. 2, p. 319-324
    Received: Mar 8, 1993

    * Corresponding author(s):
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Desperately Seeking Darcy in Dijon

  1. J. R. Philip 
  1. CSIRO Centre for Environmental Mechanics, GPO Box 821, Canberra, ACT 2601, Australia



Henry Darcy (born 1803, died 1858) is known to soil physicists as the founding father of the science of fluid flow in soils. This illustrated account of a short visit to Dijon, his native town, reveals little-known aspects of Darcy's character, life, and work. The central square and town gardens are named after Darcy, as are numerous commercial and public undertakings: a cinema, bus stop, a garage, a multistory car park, a pharmacy, and a shopping arcade. Inquiry revealed that Henry Darcy himself has been forgotten by the citizens of Dijon, and that his name persists only as a ubiquitous geographical label. It was not always thus. Darcy, with great vision and skill, designed and built a pure water supply system for Dijon, in place of previous squalor and filth. Dijon became a model for the rest of Europe. Darcy selflessly waived fees due to him from the town, corresponding to about $1.5 million today. Medals were struck recognizing his skill and selflessness; and a monument celebrates his great work. Dijon gave him a public funeral, the whole population lining the streets, and the council renamed the central square in his honor. His simple tomb is in good condition in Dijon cemetery. His letters to Henri-Emile Bazin reveal him as intelligent, witty, and sceptical, and quite devoid of pretension.

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