Hopes for the dramatic economic transformation of provincial Hungary defined the life of Pál Vásárhelyi. Born into a poor noble family, Vásárhelyi became a water engineer, an occupation with great responsibility but limited social status and low pay. In this capacity Vásárhelyi spent long years on the Danube and Tisza Rivers. His writings encompass technical reports, pamphlets on water measurement, newspaper articles, and published speeches. In unguarded moments, Vásárhelyi let his imagination fly and dreamed of using river regulation to solve the economic, transportation, and social problems that beset the provinces. Vásárhelyi's plans were not fully realized, but they sketch a very different "imagined geography" of Hungary, which centered on the northeastern counties rather than on Budapest.
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