Street Sprinkling an Absolute Necessity For Public Health 1893


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Whether the sprinkling of the city's streets during the Summer months is a sanitary necessity or merely a luxury for which those who want it should pay is a question which is being generally discussed among members of the medical profession as well as by those who are deprived of the street-sprinkling services. Under the present arrangement entered into by the city and a close corporation of street-sprinkling contractors people who wish to have the streets in front of their residences sprinkled must pay a tax to the contractors. No pay, no sprinkle.

The result is that while the streets on which reside the wealthy and well-to-do classes are sprinkled, whole districts in the tenement quarters are never visited by a water cart.

To ascertain the views of medical men on the sprinkling question a New York Times reporter interviewed several physicians yesterday.

"I consider the present system of street cleaning an iniquitous scheme," said Dr. Richard H. Derby of 9 West Thirty-fifth Street. "Street sprinkling should be done thoroughly if at all. It is most assuredly a sanitary necessity. It lays the dust, and prevents it from getting into people's ears and lungs. The present system discriminates unjustly against the poor.

"The work should not be let out to contractors seeking to make money. The city should do the work. As a matter of fact, the Street-Cleaning Department cannot do its duty unless the streets are sprinkled. Hence the work properly belongs to that department."

"If cholera comes here it would be better to have the streets dry than wet," said Dr. E.G. Janeway of 36 West Fortieth Street. "It is best to have the streets swept clean. It would be a good idea to flush the streets with water as is done in Paris, but if the Street-Cleaning Department would keep them thoroughly swept they would not need sprinkling."

"The sprinkling of the streets is an absolute necessity for public health," said Dr. J.W. Roosevelt of 32 East Thirty-first Street.

"There is no luxury about it. It is just as necessary as street sweeping. It should form a part of the duties of the Street-Cleaning Department. If the city simply sweeps up the dirt it does what is absolutely wrong, besides endangering the lives of the people. After this street is swept dust collects in the third story of my house.

"The city should sprinkle the streets. If there is no money in the Treasury to pay for the work, then it is proper to sell the privilege to contractors, perhaps, but not otherwise.

"Tenement districts should be sprinkled at all events. The Street-Cleaning Department should look after it. The present system is an outrage. Had I known that the city let out the contracts for blackmail I would have laid the matter before the Academy of Medicine and fought against the scheme. But I didn't know it in time."

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Website: The History
Article Name: Street Sprinkling an Absolute Necessity For Public Health 1893
Researcher/Transcriber Miriam Medina


BIBLIOGRAPHY:  The New York Times Jun 18, 1893. p.17 (1 page)
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