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Trash Trivia

By Lauri Apple in Miscellaneous on Oct 2, 2008 2:50PM

trashcan.jpg As we told you earlier this week, Mayor Daley's 2009 budget calls for 300 layoffs in the Streets and Sanitation Department -- a measure proposed to help us deal with our little $420 million shortfall problem. One possible consequence of the cuts, it's being reported, is longer periods between garbage pick-ups. Things could be getting smelly out there pretty soon!

And it wouldn't be the first time: Back in the 1880s, the alleyways in some parts of town were so trash-filled that huge maggot infestations were a common sight. According to one historian, Chicago children used to play with maggots "as if they were little pets." In the 1890s, Nobel Peace Prize winner and Hull House founder Jane Addams, then a sanitary inspector, led the "garbage wars" to put an end to all of that horrific and unsanitary maggot play. Through better garbage collection and violation-reporting, trash-related deaths and maladies were greatly reduced. Let's hope things don't get that bad again.

To learn more about the history of trash collection in Chicago -- you know you wanna -- read David Naguib Pellow's Garbage Wars: The Struggle for Environmental Justice in Chicago (Urban and Industrial Environments), published in 2002 by MIT Press.