Garbage In The Cities

Refuse Reform and the Environment

A seminal examination of a too often neglected by-product of the technical and economic revolutions of the twentieth century.
Technology and Culture

As recently as the 1880s, most American cities had no effective means of collecting and removing the mountains of garbage, refuse, and manure-over a thousand tons a day in New York City alone-that clogged streets and overwhelmed the senses of residents. In his landmark study, Garbage in the Cities, Martin Melosi offered the first history of efforts begun in the Progressive Era to clean up this mess.

Since it was first published, Garbage in the Cities has remained one of the best historical treatments of the subject. This thoroughly revised and updated edition includes two new chapters that expand the discussion of developments since World War I. It also offers a discussion of the reception of the first edition, and an examination of the ways solid waste management has become more federally regulated in the last quarter of the twentieth century.

Melosi traces the rise of sanitation engineering, accurately describes the scope and changing nature of the refuse problem in U.S. cities, reveals the sometimes hidden connections between industrialization and pollution, and discusses the social agendas behind many early cleanliness programs. Absolutely essential reading for historians, policy analysts, and sociologists, Garbage in the Cities offers a vibrant and insightful analysis of this fascinating topic.

about the author

Martin V. Melosi

Martin V. Melosi is Hugh Roy and Lillie Cranz Cullen University Professor and founding director of the Center for Public History at the University of Houston. Melosi received the Distinguished Research Award and the Distinguished Service Award from the American Society for Environmental History (ASEH), and the Esther Farfel Award from the University of Houston. He has served as president of the ASEH, the National Council on Public History, the Public Works Historical Society, and the Urban History Association. Melosi has written or edited nineteen books, including the award-winning The Sanitary City, and most recently, Atomic Age America.

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Martin V. Melosi