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The Streets of Manhattan Once Flowed With Pigs

Driving captured pigs to the pound in antebellum Manhattan.

Driving captured pigs to the pound in antebellum Manhattan.

Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper

Early in the 19th century, there was one pig to every five human beings living in the city of Manhattan. The streets teemed with dogs, cows, horses and people. Steamy piles of waist-deep manure and garbage sat next to piles of hay and vegetable patches.

Catherine McNeur

Catherine McNeur

Andrea Lonas

It was also a time of rapid urban development, when the city’s grid plan was just in its infancy and tensions between the competing environmental needs of the poor and the wealthy exploded in violent riots.

In her new book, “Taming Manhattan,” Portland State University history professor Catherine McNeur illuminates the urban-rural tensions in the rapidly growing city during this antebellum period (roughly 1812-1861).

She joins us to talk about this tumultuous time in New York City’s history, and to discuss parallels to modern day cities like Portland, which are home to popular urban agriculture movements.

New York City Manhattan Urban Agriculture Local Food Antebellum

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