The people who told their success stories at the Cities' Congress shared a common conviction. Even just a few persons, they believed, could make a real difference in the quality of living in their city. The history of machine power is rich in antecedents that allow choices in dating the beginning of particular periods, but probably the most relevant early event in its effect on cities occurred in 1774 when James Watt and Matthew Boulton established a partnership to manufacture Watt's improved steam engine in Birmingham. Before his unlikely appointment as construction superintendent of New York's pioneering Central Park, Olmsted, a man of 'scattered enthusiasms', had been, since leaving school at 18, an adventure-seeking sailor, a gentleman farmer, a European traveller, a writer of modest but growing reputation, and a partner in a bankrupt publishing company. The firms of Olmsted and Codman and Burnham and Root were retained as consultants, their joint plan was accepted, and Burnham was made manager.