Good ol’ days had some smelly drawbacks

Activists decry the automobile’s impact upon the environment, but few take time to consider what life was like in the days before motor vehicles came along 

More than 500 tons of horse manure was collected from the streets of New York City daily in the early 1890s, according to the above video by the New-York Historical Society and NYC Media. 

That’s 1 million pounds of road apples, for those of you scoring at home. 

All that horse hockey was produced by 62,000 horses in 1,300 stables, according to Jean Ashton of the New York Historical Society. 

It was taken – with human waste – to the aptly named “Barren Island,” where it was reduced to fertilizer. 

In addition to the horrible stench that emanated from the horse manure and urine, the waste products were obvious breeding grounds for insects and disease.

In addition, dead horses were often left to molder in the streets of major cities, rotting where they fell. 

One can concede that a mouthful of auto exhaust can be unpleasant, but it beats the heck out of the overwhelming stench of tons of horse manure on a hot summer day or walking to lunch and stumbling upon a dead carcass infested with maggots.

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5 thoughts on “Good ol’ days had some smelly drawbacks

  1. We were at a heritage parade recently and the embarassed kids who followed the wave of horses with a wheelbarrow and shovel got a rousing round of applause every time they stopped. I can only imagine the state of the streets if there were no quick pick-ups, yuck! Nice to see these things, but boy, I love my cars!

    • Yes, imagine trying to cross the street in the days before sanitation trucks exisited. And what about ladies who, near as I can tell, usually wore dresses that were floor length? I wouldn’t want to imagine what you’d come home on the botton of your shoes or the hem of the your dress.

      • It isn’t like they just chucked their dirty clothes through the wash like we do either. Period movies always show ladies with long swishy dresses looking impeccable. You have got me thinking now that in reality their maids probably spent evenings scrubbing hems and cleaning shoes!

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