« Fighting for the Enlightenment values | Main | The Real Dill »

January 10, 2016



Two stray thoughts come to mind. First, jaywalking was clearly the norm in the days of slow-moving and low-volume street traffic. I wonder when it became an offense that was enforced? And were the jaywalking laws written in anticipation of pedestrians being run over in the street, or as a result of pedestrians being run over in the street?

BTW, Pierre Curie died when he was run over by a horse-drawn cart. Did cart drivers have to have liability insurance? If not, when did such insurance become the norm? Was it only after the introduction of automobiles?

The other thing that always strikes me is the size of the horse population of that time; it had to have been dramatically higher than today's. So what happened to all the horses as motorized vehicles took over? Was it a matter of simply not breeding them as aggressively, or were large numbers of horses killed to bring the population down?

Mick H

Jay-walking is still pretty much the norm here in London.

I don't know what happened to the horses - eaten? sent to the front in the Great War? - but I like the apparent concern of futurologists at the time that the streets would soon be covered in so much horse-shit that travel would become impossible. Shows the dangers of extrapolating present trends into the future.


Fascinating. One of the things I only realized later in life is how vital it is to record ordinary things. Like everyone else I just took photos of interesting or picturesque things in my native village and county. There must be a million photos of Worcester Cathedral from the bridge, or the Malvern Hills a few miles away from my home village. But the little black and white house below ground level on the corner of Shoulton Lane disappeared in the mid-50's, and it seems not one picture was taken. Now the local history group query whether it existed, and are sceptical when I tell them it did. The village pond was filled in and an executive home built on it in the late 60's, but I never took a picture despite having a decent 35-mm camera. One reason was economy, because with film, every shot cost you. But overwhelmingly, the reason was because it was ordinary - it was there, always had been there, and always would be there, so on the day when I walked down the lane and it wasn't there I thought to myself - "Why didn't take a picture". That is my advice to anyone who wants to record the world for posterity is that it might ordinary now, but when it's gone it will be extraordinary. Thank Christ the people who took these films showed that foresight.


Doesn't say what happened to the horses, but:
'In the 1890s the key environmental concern was horse manure. London had 11,000 cabs and several thousand buses. Each used 12 horses per day, totalling more than 50,000 horses working in public transport alone. Each horse produces 15-35 pounds of manure per day; New York had 2.5 million pounds per day to shift.

‘Crossing sweepers’ were employed to clear paths through the dung, which was either sludge in wet weather or a fine powder which blew about in the dry. The piles of manure produced huge numbers of flies, which spread typhoid fever and other diseases; one estimate is that three billion flies hatched in horse manure per day in US cities in 1900, and in NY, 20,000 deaths per year were blamed on manure.

In 1898 the first international urban planning conference convened in New York to discuss the issue. It was abandoned after three days, instead of the scheduled ten, because none of the delegates could see any solution – but within a few years the problem had entirely disappeared. Electric trams and then cars and motor buses led to a rapid collapse in the horse population; in 1912, New York, London, and Paris traffic counts all showed more cars than horses for the first time, and most cities experienced their first motor traffic jams in 1914.'

The comments to this entry are closed.