Monday, July 28, 2014

The History behind the Street Sweeper

Unless you’ve literally never been out of your house in your life, there’s a good chance that you’ve seen those hulking, noisy street sweepers that roam either your quiet neighborhood or your city’s bustling streets. But have you ever wondered how the use of those contraptions began?

The modern street sweeper was born out of urgent necessity back in 1843, in Manchester, England. During that time, Manchester had grown to possess one of the largest textile industries in the world, but the streets didn’t fare well as they were absolutely filthy from the byproducts of industrial activity. A man named Joseph Whitworth was the first to come up with an effective plan to remove garbage from Manchester’s streets.

However, it was not until the early 1900’s that Whitworth’s patented mechanized sweeper was improved to the form we are familiar with today. The man responsible for the refinement of Whitworth’s original design was John Murphy, who filed for a patent in Idaho in 1917 to get his version of the mechanized street sweeper recognized. A city sanitation department looked into Murphy’s improved design, and subsequently concluded that the new, motorized sweeper can effectively replace the rather inefficient horse-drawn carts.

Murphy’s machine was specifically designed to be narrow enough to drive along pavements and sidewalks, allowing for more efficient cleaning than its manual counterparts. Since then, Murphy’s design caught on, and has now become a ubiquitous fixture in streets everywhere.


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