City Slaughter-Houses: Their Filthy Condition 1866

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Yesterday, at the meeting of the Board of Health, President Schultz submitted some interesting facts regarding the butchering business, together with a history of the manner in which it has always been controlled by law. Upon the adjournment of the Board the president invited the members and the reporters to accompany himself and Capt. Lord, Chief, of the Sanitary Police, upon an inspecting tour of the slaughter-pens.

Four carriages were in waiting for the party. The first place visited was No. 218 Mott-street. This is a little stable-like looking place, where, amid the accumulated filth of weeks, sundry men and boys were engaged in dressing beef for the market. The accommodations for drainage, and consequently for cleanliness, in this place seemed especially bad. At Nos. 185, 189 and 193 Elizabeth-street were the slaughter-houses, fat-boiling establishment and hide curing vats of Messrs. HAW, HANLIN AND QUIMBY. In the rear, and overlooking these premises, is one of our large public schools. It would soon to be impossible to confine within so small a compass so much filth and so many disgusting odors. It is beyond the power of words to convey any idea of the intensely filthy sights and smells there presented, where living animals are crowded into little narrow, reeking pens, and compelled to witness the slaughtering of their fellows. Perhaps they don't care much about that, but when the effluvia arising from these pens is sufficient to knock the animals down, it certainly is not the best atmosphere for humanity to breathe. Yet it is said that this fat-melting establishment has the most improved apparatus for conducting the business and consuming its own odors.

The hog-killing establishment of J. Lockhart, No.146 Ludlow-street, was found in as cleanly a condition as such a place can be, but no butchering had been done there for two months. At Nos. 49, 53, 55, 57 and 60 First-avenue, occupying nearly an entire block, are the slaughter-houses of Messrs. EISNER, KATZ, HARRINGTON and WESTHEIMER, respectively. In this block is killed and butchered about one-quarter of all the fresh meat consumed in New-York, accounting in the aggregate to between three and five hundred beef cattle per week, and sheep, calves, &c., in proportion. While they are conducted with cleanliness compared with others visited yesterday, they are necessarily filthy and disgusting, more so than they would be were the accommodations for conducting the business equal to the demand. Councilman COSTELLO keeps a little slaughter-pen in the rear of No. 304 East Twelfth-street. Although he had not as he remarked "Killed a bullock in two weeks," the place was a most excellent one to get away from. The sheep slaughtering establishment of David-Barreit, No. 17 Sixth-street, was the worst one we visited its "offence was rank and smelled," and so did all the workman. Mr. J.G. BROWNING, at Nos. 25 and 27 Sixth-street, has converted an old church into a cattle and sheep yard, whence many butchers draw their supply. It is, in all respects, a model of neatness and cleanliness, as far as such an institution can be either neat or clean.

All these establishments are located in the most densely populated portions of the City, are surrounded by long rows of tenement houses, which are filled to overflowing with men, women and particularly children. These latter congregate in swarms around the slaughter pens and revel in the filth there accumulated. To describe in detail what we saw would be to sicken our readers, and make them foreswear the use of meat forever. We had never dreamed of such a conglomeration of disgusting sights and smells. The "Augean stables" were, compared to New York slaughter-house, what a side show is to a big circus. Let the general forms in which we speak of them suffice. In so appalling we do not mean to say that any one is particularly more objectionable than another, they are, one and all, simply horrible_necessarily horrible if you please, but none the less objectionable because necessary. The slaughtering of animals within the City limits is detrimental to the public health, and morals as well, and should be prohibited. With the slaughtering business there follows its attendant nuisances, fat-boiling, and hide-dressing . They must eventually be removed, for a patient public cannot be imposed upon forever. The abattoirs suggested by the Board of Health, and now in course of construction, are what the City needs and what must eventually be used for all slaughtering purposes, and these air-poisoning and pestilence-breeding places removed.

It is but justice to the gentlemen named above, and to the butchers generally, to say that they have received the suggestions of the Health officers with courtesy, and have striven to make their places as unobjectionable as their accommodations will permit. But the objection does not lie with them as individuals, but with their business. Their calling is a nuisance from its very nature, and should be conducted where it is least objectionable. It is natural that they should object to the abattoir, for the reason that they will be forced to abandon the property they now hold. But eventually they will be driven beyond the City limits, and it would be wise for them to accept "the situation," make a virtue of necessity, and secure the best accommodations they can as speedily as possible. The visit of the Board, yesterday, was for the purpose of enabling the members to act understandingly when they come to consider the resolution submitted by the President.



Website: The History
Article Name: City Slaughter-Houses: Their Filthy Condition 1866
Researcher/Transcriber Miriam Medina


The New York Times Aug 29, 1866. p.5 (1 page)
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