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.

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Trade places with Vanderbilt? Definitely

The handful of you who read this blog may have figured out that I enjoy the study of history. There are many periods, particularly during the past 500 years, that would be fascinating to have been a part of, at least in my opinion.

Nevertheless, there are two big reasons that exist that clearly illuminate why I’m glad to be alive now and not, say, 150 years ago: modern plumbing and modern dentistry. We’ve got it pretty good today, even if many of us don’t realize it.

Here, Bryan Caplan of EconLog captures the difference between what the average American has today and what George Vanderbilt, one of the richest Americans of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, didn’t:

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