Thursday, January 1, 2015

Poisonous Pea Soup

You all know how fond I am of New York. I don't think I've ever written about my obsession with London. I adore big, sprawling cities that make little sense to outsiders. (Tokyo shares similar charms.) While I appreciate the formal beauty of towns such as Paris, I prefer chaos. I want to be surprised, shocked, or titillated every time I take a turn. London delivers. It's a big, beautiful mess. I wouldn't want to live there, but it's a city I'll never get tired of visiting.

And, of course, London's long history puts New York's four hundred years to shame. I could write a thousand posts on the strange events that have taken place in London, the bizarre figures who have called it home, and the fabulous fictional characters the city has produced over the last thousand years. (This blog is named Bank St. Irregular for a reason.)

But today, I'll focus on pea soup fogs. Like most Americans of my generation (and possibly yours), I always romanticized the fogs that once descended on London. They called to mind natty trench coats and Sherlock Holmes tales. (Not to mention Jack the Ripper.) Of course the London fogs were anything but romantic. "Pea-soupers" were a direct product of pollution. That picturesque fog was poison, and every time it rolled into town thousands of people perished.

The pea-souper of December, 1952 may have killed more than twelve thousand people. (To put that into perspective, it's almost four times the number of people who died here in New York on 9/11.) Fortunately, those deaths led to legislation that eventually cleared the skies over London.

Check out the wonderful Nickle in the Machine blog for more pictures of the 1952 killer fog. I love it when another blog does my work for me (and does a much better job than I would have done).


Ari the Awesome said...

Killer fog...I've never heard of that before. This post makes me want to go to London.

Rachel said...

WOW!!!!! 2 years ago I went on a trip to London and it was amazing!!!!! Sooooo beautiful!

Anonymous said...

One of my cycling friends may be getting a job with the local branch of the state Air Quality Control Board. I'm happy for her, especially since whenever I'm in the San Fernando Valley smog-belt, I can't get over how clear the air is compared to back when.

Robert in San Diego

Toodles*** said...

Wow, my parents met in London, and I've always wanted to go there. And killer fogs- all the term does is send chills up my spine, because of the Hunger Games. So CREEPY!!!

Rob said...

Hey Kirsten, thanks for the link. Much appreciated.

Love your blog too.



Hazel said...

And, of course, what do you do when there's a cold, nasty fog and you don't really understand what caused it? Heap more coal on the fire, of course.

Kitty said...

Funny how my history teacher was talking about it just yesterday XD But that's really creepy but mysterious~

Anonymous said...

Oh yes.....I've read about the fog. If you opened a door, a big slice of it would creep in and float there, eventually dissipating into air. Yuck.

Anonymous said...

Why is it they never mention facts like this in my History class room? Or maybe the problem is me, not listening close enough.
Or maybe the problem is the people who sit next to me talking away, like they're giving some sort of speech.
Details, details.
P.S. I always knew I loved London for a reason, other then the MI6.

Anonymous said...

and you read all those old books about London and how simply delightful it is..... Im rethinking half of my book collection right now.

Anonymous said...

Every so often I'm miles away from a wildfire that leaves an ashfall where I happen to be. The 1952 fog was worse than anything I've seen or been in.

Robert in San Diego