In this episode of Distillations we look at the history of smog. Today, of course, we recognize smog as the thick, toxic air pollution that often chokes the skies in places like Los Angeles and Beijing. So it’s hard to believe that smog was once looked at as a sign of progress—visual proof that the gears of industry were churning for a more prosperous future. First, we learn about a painting in CHF’s museum (shown here) commissioned to show the beauty of industrial smokestacks. Then Daniel Tkacik and Ellis Robinson travel to Donora, Pennsylvania, where, in 1948, a deadly smog descended for four days. The aftermath of that event helped kickstart the environmental regulations that ultimately lead to the Clean Air Act.
Arthur Henry Knighton’s Caustic Pot House Stacks, “A” Power Stack, “A” Pump Station, and “A” Evaporator Building. Image courtesy of the Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation. On view in CHF’s museum.