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British Industrial History

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Joseph P. Davis

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Joseph P. Davis (c1838-1917)

1918 Obituary [1]

JOSEPH P. DAVIS died on the 31st March, 1917, at Yonkers, New York, in his 80th year.

He was born at Northborough, Mass., and was educated at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

He served as Assistant Engineer of the Brooklyn Waterworks and Chief Engineer of the Brooklyn Park Department. The St. Louis Waterworks and the Lowell (Mass.) Waterworks were constructed under his supervision.

For many years he was Chief Engineer for the City of Boston and was also Consulting Engineer to the Metropolitan Water Supply Commission of Massachusetts which built several very large dams, reservoirs, and aqueducts. He was also Consulting Engineer at various times to the Metropolitan Sewerage Commission of Massachusetts and the Croton Aqueduct Commission of New York.

In the electrical field, he was perhaps even more distinguished. He was one of the charter members of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers in 1884, and was the first to preside at a meeting of that body. He was at one time chief engineer of the American Bell Telephone Company and its successor the American Telephone and Telegraph Company.

He did early and important engineering work in connection with the first underground telephone wire experiments in America, having laid and constructed such systems in New York, Boston, and elsewhere at a time when this art was distinctively new and experimental. He also designed and laid the first underground telephone system for New York and Boston, and, while still in his prime, designed telephone systems for Chicago, Philadelphia, and other cities. To the design of telephone machinery, cables, and apparatus, he also gave successful attention. He would, in fact, have been much better known but for the fact that so much of his pioneer work was done just before the period of the great modern developments of which he may be said to have laid some of the foundations.

He was elected a Foreign Member of the Institution in 1887 and a Member in 1911.

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