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Digital Discussion – Horsepower: Sanitation and Transportation in Early New York City
May 28, 2020 | 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm$10/ Free for Members
American cities were full of horses in the 1800’s. Not only were they the motive power for transportation, they also moved freight, construction materials, and even powered boats. As the earliest form of city transit, omnibuses and horse cars were particularly numerous in Manhattan, whose streets were filled with many lines that carried thousands of people per day. As more people began to move to the New York area in search of a better life, the waste generated by horses as well as humans reached a critical mass and resulted in health problems for animals and people alike.
Join Associate Curator Jodi Shapiro and Pratt Institute Professor and environmental historian Carl A. Zimring for a digital discussion about the intricate relationship between horses, sanitation and transportation in New York City. Learn about the overall impact of horses as the dominant mode of transportation in the 1800s, the increase of the wave of epidemics in the United States and the unintentional consequences of transitioning from horsepower to fossil fuels.
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Carl A. Zimring is an environmental historian interested in how waste management practices shape society, culture, institutions, and inequalities. His books include Cash for Your Trash: Scrap Recycling in America (2005), The Encyclopedia of Consumption and Waste (with William L. Rathje, 2012), Clean and White: A History of Environmental Racism in the United States (2015), and Aluminum Upcycled: Sustainable Design in Historical Perspective (2017). He is editing with Steve Corey Coastal Metropolis: Environmental Histories of Modern New York City for Fall 2020 publication. Zimring holds a Ph.D in history from Carnegie Mellon University and serves as Professor of Sustainability Studies at Pratt Institute.
Photo: Central Park North & East River Railroad at South Street, 1878. New York Transit Museum, Lonto-Watson Collection.