Tuesday, February 14, 2017

How the City of Chicago Dealt with all the Horse Manure.

Manure vaults were an underground covered hole in alleys all over Chicago that Manure Mongers would swept-up horse manure from the local area and empty it into the vault closing the lid. Later, the vault would be shoveled out and the manure carted off.
A typical “manure vault” in a Chicago alley in 1918.
Workhorses were used for personal transportation, pulling streetcars for public transportation and the delivery of materials and products to commercial and residences. These vaults were one way of keeping the streets clean of horse manure. In 1900, Chicago had 83,000 horses living and working in the city.

On average, one horse creates between 40 to 50 pounds of manure a day. At 40 pounds per day, that equals 3,320,000 pounds or 1,660 tons of horse manure to dispose of per day. The sheer volume made what was a nuisance in small towns and a crisis in large metropolitian areas.
The manure was smelly, dirty, and attracted flies that spread diseases to humans. When it dried up and became dust, the breeze would spread the manure for miles, polluting the air and sickened Chicagoans. Some of it was shipped to area farms for agriculture use. Some was mixed in with cement as a binder and used to pave streets and such. Still, there was too much manure to efficiently dispose of.

With the upcoming World's Columbian Exposition scheduled to open in 1893, Chicago made the cleanup of manure a critical priority in 1892. It would be embarrassing for the city to have filthy streets when Chicago is in the world's eye.

One strategy to deal with all the manure was the underground manure vault to diminish the problem. Manure was bailed and transported out of the city along with manure being incinarated. The ultimate solution to the manure problem was just beginning in the U.S.

In 1893 Frank Duryea is reported to have made the first horseless carriage trip on U.S. roads in Springfield, Massachusetts, traveling approximately 600 yards before engine problems forced him to stop and make repairs. He went on to found the first U.S. car company with his brother, the Duryea Motor Wagon Company. 

By 1900 there were only 377 automobiles registered with the Board of Examiners of Operators of Automobiles. The Comparative Wheel Tax Statement shows that in 1916 there were 46,662 horse-drawn vehicles and 65,651 automobiles. By 1940 there were fewer than 2,000 horse-drawn vehicles and over 600,000 automobiles. The fastest changes happened in the 1920s.
Today, horses are equiped with bags to collect their manure before it hits the Chicago streets.

WTTW Chicago - wttw.com

2 comments:

  1. Many horses were still being used until after WW2. Milk, ice, and many vendors and junk collectors used them. The Chicago police also used a lot of them until after the war. Fortunately, most used the alleys to conduct their business.

    ReplyDelete
  2. My house here in Pilsen had a milk and cheese store on the first floor,the family lived in the 3 bedroom apartment behind the store and had a garage built specifically for their horse and carriage they used to make deliveries in the neighborhood.

    ReplyDelete

The Digital Research Library of Illinois History Journal™ is rated PG-13. Please comment accordingly.
Comments not on the posts topic will be deleted as will advertisements.