Ugly Facts

garbage.jpgHere are a few plain facts – unwholesome truths, perhaps, in more than one sense – which we think it our duty to lay upon the powers that rule our municipal affairs. There are more odorous pestilence breeding nuisances in this city than in any other place of its size in the State of California, or perhaps in the world.

In a locality less favored than ours, people could not live as we live. But for the salubrious climate and almost constant seabreeze, a stench would pervade Los Angeles that would be as fatal to animal life as carbolic acid. But for our health-giving-foul-air purifying climate, our population would rapidly decrease, and the sombre sign of death would mark the door of almost every housewhere there is a family of children. Of our health and that of our families, we of this city are criminally negligent.

Strangers and tourists, visiting Los Angeles, boldly affirm it the dirtiest city they have ever seen…

…We get indignant over the charge, but we cannot prove it false.

We have hundreds of old water closets that generate poison enough every twenty-four hours to depopulate a small village. The miasm that drips from the rotten sewers would breed a pestilence anywhere else. The malaria that rises from the innumerable cesspools is enough to place the whole city under the doctor’s care.

A Health Officer has been appointed, and the Council will maintain him in the discharge of his duty. Let us hope that his work will be so thorough that we shall not again be compelled to revert to this most disagreeable subject.

-from the Los Angeles Herald, June 18, 1876

(photo by mattlogelin via Flickr)

9 Replies to “Ugly Facts”

  1. LA can be filthy but it’s definitely smelly. Whatever happened to that whole bullshit about the California lottery helping with things like this? Remember them saying how all that revenue from the lottery would help schools aswell?

    And yet public schools are in in even worse shape than years before. California could benefit from a good washing and by washing I mean “Arizona Bay”

  2. There is nothing more fun than flipping through really old newspapers to see people rant… the good ‘ol days, oh how horrible they were! (and yes, there is a great book by that name)

  3. Dude — at least the stuff yer talkin’ ’bout, we can get a whiff of once in a while. Scary moments of my life as a teenager: Walking into Planned Parenthood to read big signs about how chemicals and stuff in the area could possibly cause reproductive and other harm.

    I wasn’t planning to have babies then, nor am I now, but some women use PP’s services for pre-natal care and stuff. We in Cali have some good laws about notification of toxic substances — now we need to work on actually getting rid of those things, rather than just “warning” people (who really have no options other than to be there) about them —

    Ok — I’ve gotten off topic, sorta. Sorry :(

  4. The charge of LA being the dirtiest city may be a little exaggerated.

    Nothing is dirtier than New York City.

    We dont have trash bags piled up citywide, the odors coming out of every corner, or rats crossing the streets (dont forget the bedbugs uptown!)

    I love New York anyway, though…

  5. Pre-sewers, with horse dung everywhere, yes, most cities were smelly. Are there people who ae surprised by this?

  6. Someone beat me to it! Unless they’ve cleaned it up, NYC is dirtier than LA. Alley’s reek of urine, unidentifiable smells from restaurants, mingle with human odors, sidewalks caked with old stains. It really depends on which part of the cities you’re walking through.

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