19th Century Apartment Hunting Tools: NYC Stench Map

19th Century Apartment Hunting Tools: NYC Stench Map

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Jennifer Hunter
Apr 17, 2015

It's one thing to check the walkscore of a potential NYC pad, but what if a stench map was also required reading? The New York City Metropolitan Board of Health released the map above in 1870 to track offensive smells — also thought to transmit disease at the time — released by various "offensive trades" of the day and it may have transformed the landscape of New York as we know it today.

In fact, the Metropolitan Board of Health had recently passed several ordinances restricting these smelly businesses from operating on the island of Manhattan. Many were forced to move to less strict Brooklyn, as you can see from the heavy concentration of oil refineries on the map. But in 1870, Brooklyn created its own regulatory industry, the Brooklyn Board of Health, and the two agencies went on to butt heads over the smells that floated across the East River. Remember, at the time, Manhattan and Brooklyn boroughs were two separate entities; they weren't consolidated into New York City until 1898.

Read more at CityLab.

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