The Great Stink, 1858

The Great Stink, 1858

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Credit: New York Public Library/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Punch Cartoon from 1858, during the Great Stink in London, depicting the Thames as the River Styx. In the summer of 1858 all the sewage and waste of a population numbering roughly 2 million people spilled into the river directly from the city drains or from urban tributaries and, in the heat and drought of that summer, it formed a slow-moving brown sludge that gave off a choking stench. The smell of raw sewage and rotting waste grew so intense that Parliament had to close and for authorities, who had decided that cholera was a stink-borne disease, the time had come to do something.

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