The Search for the Ultimate Sink: Urban Pollution in Historical Perspective

Tarr, Joel A. | from Multimedia Library Collection:
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Tarr, Joel A. The Search for the Ultimate Sink: Urban Pollution in Historical Perspective. Ohio: University of Akron Press, 1996.

Whether it comes by air, by land, or by water, pollution has long plagued the American city. And for just as long, the question of how to deal with urban wastes has taxed the minds of scientists, engineers, and public officials—and the pocketbooks of ordinary citizens. This collection of his essays surveys what technology has done to, and for, the environment of the American city since 1850. In studies ranging from the horse to the railroad, from infrastructure development to industrial and domestic pollution, from the Hudson River to the smokestacks of Pittsburgh, a constant theme is the tension between the production of wastes and the attempts to dispose of them or control them with minimal costs. These essays explore not only the technical solutions to waste disposal, but also the policy issues involved in the trade-offs among public health, environmental quality, and the difficulties and costs of pollution control, and all this against the broader background of changes in civic and professional values. (Text adapted from University of Akron Press website.)

Joel A. Tarr is Richard S. Caliguiri Professor of History and Policy at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His research focusses on environmental history and the role of technology in American cities.