U.S. CITIES: Past and Present


The problems of the American cities – pollution, crime, a lack of planning, accidents – are bad, but they were worse in the so-called ‘good old days’1 Pollution from cars is one example. It is bad now but there was a lot of pollution from horses and other animals in American cities in the 19th century.

Most cities had their own slaughterhouses. Butchers were careless about the cows and pigs which they killed and they left the remains of the animals here and there. And the sewer1 system for waste water from the kitchens and bathrooms did almost not exist.

Pollution was a very important problem for city governments in the last century, especially the problem of water supplies. They knew that they polluted water, but they didn’t know how it was polluted. Trying to get pure water was a big problem.

People like to talk about the good old days but, actually, the cities of the 19th century were dirtier than today. Because of the dirt, communicable diseases were a great problem. When one of these diseases was seen, the situation was dangerous for all of the people in that area. Examples of such diseases were smallpox, yellow fever, malaria, cholera and typhoid. The number of children who died was high.

Some of the problems that disturbed2 people who lived in the cities during that period are still with us – poor planning, crime and accidents.

The planning of cities and their neighbourhoods was controlled by real estate developers who were only interested in earning more money. Actually, their real job was to build well-planned cities and provide the population with both durable housing and a good-looking neighbourhood.

Crime was a great concern then~ too. The police had to work hard to stop it. Pickpockets, who were very skilled, were able to quickly steal the purses and wallets of the people and run away with theme

It is true that people were not being killed by cars. However, they were killed or seriously injured (hurt3) by runaway horses, which were running around out of control. It was quite a common scene.

The situations and problems of American cities have not changed so much. We must look back4 at the past and try to learn from it so that developments can be made.


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