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The Horse in the City: Living Machines in the Nineteenth Century

journal contribution
posted on 01.07.2009, 00:00 by Clay McShane, Joel TarrJoel Tarr

The nineteenth century was the golden age of the horse. In urban America, the indispensable horse provided the power for not only vehicles that moved freight, transported passengers, and fought fires but also equipment in breweries, mills, foundries, and machine shops.

Clay McShane and Joel A. Tarr, prominent scholars of American urban life, here explore the critical role that the horse played in the growing nineteenth-century metropolis. Using such diverse sources as veterinary manuals, stable periodicals, teamster magazines, city newspapers, and agricultural yearbooks, they examine how the horses were housed and fed and how workers bred, trained, marketed, and employed their four-legged assets. Not omitting the problems of waste removal and corpse disposal, they touch on the municipal challenges of maintaining a safe and productive living environment for both horses and people and the rise of organizations like the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

In addition to providing an insightful account of life and work in nineteenth-century urban America, The Horse in the City brings us to a richer understanding of how the animal fared in this unnatural and presumably uncomfortable setting.

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01/07/2009

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