Skip to main content

Figuring Ahead: The Passaic In 1902

July 2024
1min read

Long before anyone ever heard of ecology, pollution was a problem. As far back as 1880 the Passaic River in northern New Jersey had lost its pristine quality. Pollution was the reason, caused chiefly by carbolic acid discharged by a paper mill and raw sewage dumped into the river by communities along its shores. As a result Newark and Jersey City had unusually high death rates from typhoid fever. Despite steps to control the worst offenders, conditions were not much better when the sardonic cartoons above appeared in the Newark Sunday Call in 1902. “How would you enjoy being a figurehead on the polluted Passaic?” the caption writer asked.”… it is to be hoped none of the craft that bears them will poke their noses further up than Newark Bay.”

Enjoy our work? Help us keep going.

Now in its 75th year, American Heritage relies on contributions from readers like you to survive. You can support this magazine of trusted historical writing and the volunteers that sustain it by donating today.