Spanning a thirty-eight-mile canal, a walled reservoir, and a city-wide network of wooden mains, London’s New River altered terrain from Hertfordshire to the city. A vital shift in London’s spatial order attended these topographical changes, as public space became a private commodity. This essay compares Thomas Middleton’s allusions to the New River in his civic shows and city comedies, revealing his ambivalent attitude toward an increasingly profit-oriented city and his place in it.

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