On Saturday, November 15, Dr. Janet Davis presented an invited lecture at the national conference of the Livestock Conservancy right here in Austin. Her talk, entitled “The Cattle Drives of Wall Street and Other Stories of Urban Livestock: 1866 – 1940,” considered how animals that once roamed through city streets disappeared prior to World War II.
See her abstract here:
In the middle of the nineteenth century, livestock were everywhere in the urban United States. In the nation’s largest city, cattle drives plodded through Wall Street and sheep manicured the grass at Central Park. Livestock muscle powered city transportation and commerce. Armies of hogs rooted through mounds of garbage, while chickens scratched for bits of food. In an age before refrigeration, American stockyards, dairies, slaughterhouses, and butcher shops spawned fetid olfactory clouds. Yet on the eve of World War II, the nation’s urban landscape had changed dramatically with the virtual disappearance of livestock. This paper explores the historical processes that led to this disappearance, including motorized transportation and cooling technologies, sanitation reform, and the rise of the animal welfare movement. This paper will also examine the cultural, social, and economic consequences of this transformation, as well as the nascent resurgence of urban livestock today.
For more information about the conference, see the Livestock Conservancy website.