Filthy Cities – Industrial New York

Written by Rachel on April 12th, 2011

From here:
Tue 19 Apr 2011 – 21:00 – BBC Two (except N. Ireland (Analogue), Wales (Analogue))
Tue 19 Apr 2011 – 21:00 – BBC HD
Wed 20 Apr 2011 – 00:00 – BBC HD

Dan Snow travels back to a seething Manhattan in the throes of the industrial revolution. Millions fled persecution, poverty and famine in Europe in the 19th century in search of the Promised Land. When they arrived what they found was even worse than what they’d left behind.

New York was a city consumed by filth and corruption, its massive immigrant population crammed together in the slums of Lower Manhattan. Dan succumbs to some of the deadly disease-carrying parasites that thrived in the filthy, overcrowded tenement buildings. He has a go at cooking with some cutting edge 19th century ingredients – clothes dye and floor cleaner – added to disguise reeking fetid meat. And he marvels at some of the incredible feats of engineering that transformed not just the city, but the world.

Some clips:
Clip 1
Clip 2

Dan in New York

Dan and the crew get ready to film a piece to camera with a classic New York cityscape in the background.

Dan and pig

Even though New Yorkers were paying for basic services like street cleaning, a large proportion of the cash was just being pocketed, thanks to endemic corruption. This left pigs as the only street cleaners, eating tonnes of rubbish every year.

Dan taking a photo

Dan demonstrates an early method of flash photography. In 1888 photographer Jacob Riis became the first American to use this technology and captured, for the first time, the grim reality of life inside New York's dark tenement slums.

Dan making mincemeat

Dan finds out how some disreputable butchers in 19th century New York used a new cleaning product to turn their previously unsellable rotten meat into toxic sausages.

Dan walking

Dan visits Coney Island to investigate how New York deals with it's waste today. By the end of the 19th century so much waste had been poured into the Hudson and the East River that Manhattan was an island floating in its own filth.

Dan in New York

Dan in a car

Dan has a go at driving a vintage Ford Model T, the car which took America by storm and revolutionised New York's roads.

Dan turning a tap

It may be something that we take for granted today, but in 19th century New York fresh water was in short supply. Completed in 1842, the Croton aqueduct finally connected the city to a reliable source of clean water, marking the first major step towards modernity.


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