NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
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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