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Smelly Facts About London's The Great Stink of 1858

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The True Royal Family

Many think of the Victorian era as a time of tight-laced corsets and formal teas. And it was—but it was also the time of the Great Stink, a two-month stretch of 1858 in which London's primary water source, the River Thames, was so full of untreated sewage baking in the sun that the entire city took on an odious reek. The smell was so bad that it was blamed for illnesses among the upper class, reportedly caused citizens miles away to throw up whenever the wind changed, and eventually lead to the development of the London sewage system.

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