Early Chicago, 1833–1871
A Selection of Documents from the Illinois State Archives
DOCUMENT 14PETITION FOR APPOINTMENT AS CITY SCAVENGER
April 23, 1847
On March 8, 1847, Mayor James Curtiss declared in his inaugural address, "Every year the condition of a portion of the streets and alleys has been alike disgraceful to the character of the city, and detrimental to the health of its inhabitants." At this time Chicago was approaching 17,000 in population. It had no systematic method for the disposal of garbage. By local ordinance vegetable and animal matter was to be transported outside the city limits but no public system was set up for that purpose. Consequently, the garbage was deposited in the streets and alleys. Beginning in 1847, substantial steps were gradually taken to improve the city's health. On April 30, the city council appointed the city's first scavenger or garbage collector.
Points to Consider
Why had laws regarding garbage disposal been violated?
What problems could cattle and hogs cause "citizens and countrymen with produce"?
How was John Ludby proposing to collect garbage?
How was Ludby expecting to be compensated for his trouble? Why?