The Sanitary City: Environmental Services in Urban America from Colonial Times to the Present / Edition 1

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Immersed in their on-demand, highly consumptive, and disposable lifestyles, most urban Americans take for granted the technologies that provide them with potable water, remove their trash, and process their wastewater. These vital services, however, are the byproduct of many decades of development by engineers, sanitarians, and civic planners. 

In The Sanitary City, Martin V. Melosi assembles a comprehensive, thoroughly researched and referenced history of sanitary services in urban America. He examines the evolution of water supply, sewage systems, and solid waste disposal during three distinct eras: The Age of Miasmas (pre-1880); The Bacteriological Revolution (1880-1945); and The New Ecology (1945 to present-day). 

Originally published in 2000, this abridged edition includes updated text and bibliographic materials. The Sanitary City is an essential resource for those interested in environmental history, environmental engineering, science and technology, urban studies, and public health.

Winner of:
George Perkins Marsh Prize from the American Society for Environmental History Urban History Association Prize for the best book in North American Urban History
Abel Wolman Prize from the Public Works Historical Society
Sidney Edelstein Prize from the Society for the History of Technology

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Melosi has written an intellectual and technologically oriented account of the efforts of urban leaders to foster control of the built environment and enhance the health of citizens. Scholars in urban and environmental history will begin their future work with Melosi's book, and they will consult it regularly. Here is a book that practitioners will read, assign, and debate.”
Journal of Urban History

“A substantial work of scholarship that provides a highly useful history of the development and consequences of urban water, sewer, and solid waste infrastructure in the United States. Extensively referenced, heavily illustrated, and well written, it should be a standard on the subject for many years.”
Technology and Culture

“A monumental work, the outcome of well over a decade of research by an important scholar. A milestone in public works history. It is likely to become the first work to which future scholars interested in the sanitary technologies in America will turn.”

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780822959830
  • Publisher: University of Pittsburgh Press
  • Publication date: 3/28/2008
  • Series: Pittsburgh Hist Urban Environ
  • Edition description: Abridged
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 997,551
  • Product dimensions: 6.13 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Martin V. Melosi is Hugh Roy and Lillie Cranz Cullen University Professor of History and director of the Center for Public History at the University of Houston. He is the author or editor of fourteen books, including Garbage in the Cities: Refuse, Reform and the Environment, and Effluent America: Cities, Industry, Energy, and the Environment.

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Table of Contents

Pt. I The age of miasmas : from colonial times to 1880

1 Sanitation practices in pre-Chadwickian America 11

2 Bringing the serpent's tail into the serpent's mouth : Edwin Chadwick and the "sanitary idea" in England 28

3 The "sanitary idea" crosses the Atlantic 40

4 Pure and plentiful : from protosystems to modern waterworks, 1830-1880 50

5 Subterranean networks : wastewater systems as works in progress, 1830-1880 61

Pt. II The bacteriological revolution, 1880-1945 On the cusp of the new public health : bacteriology, environmental sanitation, and the quest for permanence, 1880-1920 71

7 Water supply as a municipal enterprise, 1880-1920 82

8 Battles at both ends of the pipe : sewage systems and the new health paradigm, 1880-1920 97

9 The third pillar of sanitary services : the rise of public refuse management, 1880-1920 113

10 The Great Depression, World War II, and public works, 1920-1945 129

11 Water supply as a national issue : the federal government, expansion of service, and the threat of pollution, 1920-1945 135

12 Sewerage, treatment, and the "broadening viewpoint," 1920-1945 147

13 The "orphan child of sanitary engineering" : refuse collection and disposal, 1920-1945 158

Pt. III The new ecology, 1945-2000s

14 The challenge of suburban sprawl and the "urban crisis" in the age of ecology, 1945-1970 171

15 A time of unease : the "water crisis" in an effluent society, 1945-1970 180

16 Beyond their limits : decaying sewers, overflows, and foaming plants, 1945-1970 192

17 Solid waste as "third pollution," 1945-1970 200

18 From Earth Day to infrastructure crisis : forces shaping the new sanitary city210

19 Beyond broken pipes and tired treatment plants : water supply, wastewater, and pollution since 1970 225

20 Out of state, out of mind : the garbage crisis in America 240

Epilogue 259

Abbreviations 265

Notes 267

Bibliographic essay 333

Index 343

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