Tuesday, June 23, 2009

It was 40 years ago yesterday that Cleveland's lake Cuyahoga caught fire, giving Pittsburgh something to feel good about for years before the Steel Curtain instilled a whole new pride. It's improved a great deal since then, but it does remain on the EPA's polluted list. Frankly, I think it's nice just to see some improvement in the region. Western PA/Ohio has historically had some of the most polluted waterways in the country, stemming largely from industrial sites, many of which are long gone. The region is still paying for it, though (Consider that PA has as many superfund sites as California, for a second, despite having less than a third of the area). So as laughable as the fire was, at least it gave birth to some serious reconsideration on our environmental stance, which we should be grateful for.

Anyway, there's a great article here documenting like 15 other fires that took plce on the river, going back well over a century. Apparently, "Compared to the 1952 inferno, the 1969 fire was nothing special, a freak accident that merited little local concern, but sparked national attention because of increased environmental consciousness throughout the country".

It seems like most of the pictures we see and associate with the 1969 fire (and likely including the one above) were actually from the 1952 fire. Huh.

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