Fellow in Focus: Fresh Air, Foul Odors, and the Growth of American Cities

Melanie A. Kiechle (Virginia Tech)

Thursday, October 12, 2017 -

6:00pm to 8:00pm

Chemical Heritage Foundation (Philadelphia, PA)

Chemical Heritage Foundation
315 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106


Can a city be healthy? During the 19th century American cities grew in size and number. Booming cities powered economic growth but also suffered from epidemic diseases and high mortality rates. As a result many Americans associated city life with ill health. Believing that bad smells caused disease, city residents pinched their noses and picked bouquets. Their search for “fresh” air and health led to the establishment of boards of health, the founding of public parks, and the development of our first household disinfectants.

On this olfactory tour, historian Melanie A. Kiechle will explain just what smells and stinks meant to 19th-century Americans and how their desires for healthful fresh air shaped the cities we live in—and the air we breathe—today.