|LOC collections Milwaukee 1879|
The city was in debt, by 1857 they had lost 1.6 million investing in Rail Roads. Although they built a reputation for solid conservative banking and fiscal policies in 1880 the debt amounted to $18.69 per individual, a total of $2.2 million for the entire city.
Milwaukee had 231.83 miles of streets. 150 miles were gravel and 25 miles of wood. Asphalt which was introduced after 1871 still melted in hot weather. Sidewalks were constructed of plank, flagstone and cement. Street cleaning was a problem. Urine and manure covered the streets. Cleaning cost the city about $53,000 a year and that did not include snow removal. Volunteer crews shoveled to create fire lanes.
Dead animal removal cost the city about $850 a year. The carcasses were taken by private contractors to glue factories.
In 1878 the city began regular collection of garbage and ashes at the cost of $10,000 to the city. Collections were daily from April 20 - Oct 20 and twice a week the rest of the year. The collections wee taken to dumping grounds beyond city limits.
Liquid household wastes gathered in cesspools, privy vaults, gutters and sewers, causing danger to shallow wells. Licensed scavengers with air-tight carts cleaned out the privies between 11pm and 4 am. Liquid waste often found its way into lakes and streams.
|LOC Collections - Milwaukee - Beck & Pauli.1882|
The sewers, a systemic plan created by ES Chesbrough, consisted of vitrified earthen ware and cement pipes with manhole covers. With a capacity for 280,000 people they ran to the Menomonee River and into Lake Michigan. The reality is the waste backed up into the river rather than spreading through the lake.
Industrial waste and smoke were rampant, but, they were considered signs of progress and not a danger to ones health.
Before 1876 Milwaukee had a monopoly on gas lights. Customers were charged $2.25 a month and outages and flickering were common. Commercial enterprises were favored over individual customers. Downtown, gas-lighters ran from pole to pole to light the street lights. When Edison perfected electric lighting Milwaukee was a quick adopter.
In 1870 the city had 42 police officers, one for every 1700 citizens, causing the mayor to claim that the city was more secure than in any other city on the continent of equal or greater size. By 1880 the number of officers had increased to 69. They made $800 a year and had to buy their own uniforms at a cost of about $60. The chief made $3000 per year. In 1880 there were 2564 arrests, 3445 lodgers in jail and the entire budget was $76000 for the year. These were high wages, other cities in Wisconsin paid about $1 a day, but the city need to control their tough waterfront dives!
This was the city where Peter Somers (nephew of Margaret Somers Delmore) became mayor in 1890 and where Johannes Baier(l) settled with his daughter after his son John moved to Minnesota.