Horses Almost Destroyed New York City

Written by: Laissez Faire Books
Published: January 13, 2015 7:14:06 PM EST

[The following post is by Laissez Faire Books]

In 1880, the U.S. brought together a group they considered the world's smartest people to answer one pressing question...

What will New York City look like in 100 years?

New York was in full bloom. It was an unprecedented hub of entrepreneurship and innovation.

Yes, it was an exciting time to be a New Yorker. The world's first elevated train... underground subway... and with the first skyscraper in the hopper...

The Big Apple was changing how the world thought about -- and lived -- in cities.

So everyone was curious: What lies ahead for The City That Never Sleeps?

The team of big brains plugged their gourds together and mulled it over...

They talked. They argued. They rubbed their chins and massaged the bulging veins in their foreheads.

Some of them probably scribbled indecipherable squiggles on the chalkboard and pointed at them.

They said words in convincing tones.

Some nodded. Some stood up and raised their arms and their eyebrows.

"Eureka!" one of them probably shouted.

And then, in the end, they all nodded in unison.

They all came to a unanimous agreement.

"In 100 years time," they said (in essence), "probably well before, New York will be..."

Wait for it...

"... completely destroyed!"

Yep. That was their conclusion and they were sticking to it.

How did they come to such a drastic determination? Well, look no further than the population boom.

And... horses.

In the early 1800s, there were about 30,000 people in New York. And by 1880, that number had ballooned to nearly four million.

The city's population had, on average, doubled in size every decade.

The brainiacs assumed that this trend would continue. And in assuming this trend to continue, they began to wonder how all of these people would get around. Horrified, they began to imagine all the horses the city would need.

By 1980, the team concluded, New York would need more than six million horses.

Six million!

And six million horses presents an obvious problem.

The city already had 200,000 horses in 1880. Each one, they somehow calculated, dumped a quart of urine and 24 pounds of manure every day.

That's 4.8 million pounds of horse dung and 50,000 gallons of pee already being dumped into the streets... every. single. day.

Needless to say, horse waste was already a problem. The city was already drowning in it.

"The stench was omnipresent," one writer, Eric Morris, wrote in his urban planning Masters thesis...

"Urban streets were minefields that needed to be navigated with the greatest care," the thesis reads.

"'Crossing sweepers' stood on street corners; for a fee they would clear a path through the mire for pedestrians. Wet weather turned the streets into swamps and rivers of muck, but dry weather brought little improvement; the manure turned to dust, which was then whipped up by the wind, choking pedestrians and coating buildings.

"...even when it had been removed from the streets the manure piled up faster than it could be disposed of...early in the century farmers were happy to pay good money for the manure, by the end of the 1800s stable owners had to pay to have it carted off. As a result of this glut...vacant lots in cities across America became piled high with manure; in New York these sometimes rose to forty and even sixty feet."

Worse, manure is breeding ground for flies. And flies spread disease. Typhoid outbreaks, Morris wrote, "and "infant diarrheal disease can be traced to spikes in fly population."

Now times that situation by 30.

It slowly dawned on our intrepid researchers that by 1980, New York's poor sidewalks and streets would gather 144 million pounds of dung... and be awash with 1,500,000 gallons of horse urine.


Every. Single. Day.

But they soon realized that they wouldn't even make it 100 years. New York, they discovered, may not even make it to see the year 1900!

"With the increased need of horses to keep up with the population," author Jess Stibel writes in his book Breakpoint, "even 20 years of growth would put the city knee-deep in sh*t."

A pressing problem, indeed.

And this is great news.

Great news? As you probably know, New York didn't die from an overload of horse manure.

Every decade has an apocalyptic fear just like this one to call its own -- and so far, due to human ingenuity, they've all been unwarranted.

No one could've foreseen that the automobile would soon revolutionize the way New Yorkers got around -- and fix the looming poop problem in one fell swoop.

Predicting 100 years into the future is impossible.We shouldn't even try.

There are obvious reasons for this.

Our natural inclination is to assume that the future will just be more of the same.

"We take what is current," Stibel explains, "and project it into the future. Or we take what is current and apply some flair (think flying cars). Rarely does one take a novel approach to the future, at least without getting ridiculed."

But just as New York City avoided being slathered in horse doo-doo, so will we benefit from new innovations.

Many of which we cannot yet fathom. Just like the quantum leap of picking up our dates in a Model T rather than a smelly horse.

But those types of quantum leaps are difficult -- if not impossible -- to predict.

That story sounds ridiculous to us today but the sad and crazy part is that bureaucrats and government funded scientists and economists are doing the exact same thing today.

The billion dollar, government funded, science behind Global Warming was no different.  Al Gore predicted the world would be devoid of sea ice by this year... yet sea ice is at record highs.  In the UK they predicted that by now there would be no such thing as a snowfall there.  Instead they are regularly digging themselves out from under snowstorms.  They said that devastating hurricanes would be a regular occurence by now yet it has been a record-breaking nine years since a Category 3 hurricane or higher made landfall along US coastlines.  

And all those predictions were only made a decade ago... not 100 years ago.  

In economics, Keynesian central bankers always try to add up all the numbers in the world and make predictions.  Almost, without fail, they are completely wrong.  Ben Bernanke didn't see the housing bubble coming.  Greenspan didn't see the tech bubble.  And now no one seems to see the government debt bubble that is about to burst.

It wouldn't be so bad if these idiotic bureaucrats were only making predictions.  But, based on their analysis they act on it as though their predictions are valid.  In the case of Global Warming, now rebranded "Climate Change" since it has been so brutally cold in the last few years, they tried, and still try, to bring in another tax! A carbon tax!  A tax on the very air that we breathe out of our mouths!

 In the case of central banking they manipulate interest rates wildly and print money at abandon in response to their view that this will improve the economy... which is, at its most fundamental and basic level, impossible.

There will likely always be ignorant humans making unbelievably bad predictions about the future... and that's why we need to take away their centralized control of governing and central banking.  So, at least if they continue to make ridiculous predictions they won't have the power to force all of us to pay for it in one way or another.

This month, in the TDV Newsletter (subscribe here), myself and Senior Analyst Ed Bugos will be making some predictions of our own for the next year... a year in which I expect massive volatility and turmoil in the political and financial arenas.  Unfortunately, I don't think I am going to be too off the mark as much of what I foresee is already baked in the cake and just a matter of time before The End Of The Monetary System As We Know It (TEOTMSAWKI) comes to its ultimate end.

What say you?