Melanie Kiechle

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Public Talk: Fresh Air, Foul Odors, and the Growth of American Cities

  • Chemical Heritage Foundation (map)

Can a city be healthy? 

During the nineteenth century, American cities grew in size and number. Booming cities powered economic growth, but also suffered from epidemic diseases and high mortality rates. As a result, many Americans associated city life with ill health. Sure that bad smells caused disease, city residents pinched their noses, picked bouquets, and sought fresh air. The search for fresh air and health created myriad solutions, including our first household disinfectants, boards of health, and public parks.

On this olfactory tour, I will explain just what smells and stinks meant to nineteenth-century Americans and how their desires for healthful fresh air shaped the cities we live in--and the air we breathe--today.

Later Event: November 10
Conference Paper: Poetic Science