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The snows are upon us and as I drive to work and notice the gutters and storm drains, I think of what it was like years past…

1881 A great defect is observable in the streets of our city, namely: the surface drainage. House sweepings, kitchen slops, etc., find their way into the open gutters; pools of water collect at various depressed points, giving rise to miasms and odors that are anything but conducive to health during the hot weather, and in winter time invade the adjoining pavements by extension of layers, forming broad sheets of ice, dangerous to life and limb. All of this nuisance can be obviated, and the streets kept dry and free from offensive and pestilential odors, and sidewalks free from ice, by a proper system of sewerage. The present sewers of our city are not self-cleansing, and in consequence thereof there is imposed upon this department an immense amount of work, for which there should be given a sufficient sum to thoroughly clean and disinfect them.
1885 It occurs to me to say, that I think the emptying, during the winter season, of snow and ice out from the streets into the lower Falls, is a vicious practice, and should be henceforth prohibited. It creates bars of the filthiest street mud and refuse, which fill up the Falls and disfigure the walls until late in the Spring.
1908 Investigations show that large deposits (trash) are being formed in numbers of the existing drains, caused by street sweepings.
1911 A considerable portion of the dirt which finds its way into the sewers goes in through the un-trapped inlets, and it is a matter of common knowledge that the street cleaners, in order to lighten somewhat their labors, are accustomed to pushing the street sweepings into the inlets, thus allowing large quantities of dirt to be washed into the sewers. It must be borne in mind, however, that it is much more expensive to remove deposits of dirt from the sewers by hand than it is to remove them from the surfaces of the streets by carts.


Baltimore’s White Wing street sweepers.


Newer version, Hokey Cart street sweeper (Does he really look to be the type to just push his sweepings into the storm drains?)


That’s a lot of salt which will eventually head into the Chesapeake Bay.