Wiki Wormhole: Take a deep breath and wade into the Great Stink, the Thames at its most fetid

With more than 5 million articles, Wikipedia is an invaluable resource, whether you’re throwing a term paper together at the last minute, or researching the veracity of the claim that he who denied it, supplied it. We explore some of Wikipedia’s oddities in our 5,172,311-week series, Wiki Wormhole.

This week’s entry: The Great Stink

What it’s about: Anyone who romanticizes the Victorian era needs to pause and consider the state of London in the 1850s. The London fog—city smog caused by coal-burning factories’ smoke and other pollution—choked the air, causing respiratory problems for city residents. An alarming amount of industrial runoff was dumped into the Thames, along with more human waste than the city’s aging sewer system could handle. There were regular outbreaks of cholera as a result. Conditions worsened until, in the summer of 1858, temperatures over 100 degrees Fahrenheit …

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