Piping and tubing has led to the development of societies overall. We’ve been using piping for thousands of years. However, over time our piping and plumbing methods have changed significantly.
(Interestingly, the word plumbing comes from the Latin root word for lead. Plumbers essentially are/were lead-ers. Because at the time of the origin of the name, plumbers made and installed pipes from lead.)
The example of lead piping used in Rome is well known. It was used extensively, and it helped the civilization develop so that people could live in city centers.
However, even with the significant development over the past millennia, even in the last hundred years our methods of piping and tubing have changed significantly. Many old houses on Capitol Hill still have steel pipes such as the ones shown in the photos above. (Many houses still have lead service lines as well, an issue DC and other cities are trying to slowly address.) At the time of installation, these pipes were one of the best methods available. Annealed copper, CPVC, and PEX used today were not a real option at that time.
But, just looking at this photo, you can see some of the problems with steel piping. The corrosion shown in these pictures is a perfect example of the corrosion typically found in steel pipes in Capitol Hill.