Charles B. Brooks…Cleaning it Up!

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charles b. brooks

Street Sweeper
Patent #556,711
Patented March 17, 1895

Charles B. Brooks lived during a time when our streets were in horrific condition. They were typically cleaned by lone walkers who marched to and fro, picking up debris by hand or sweeping by broom.

This is supposedly a photograph of Charles Brooks, but its authenticity has not been verified.

Brooks devised a machine that had a series of broom-like brushes that pushed trash and debris to the side of the road. The photograph below shows an early street sweeper and the men who manned it.

early streetsweep

Brook’s invention was initially met with great resentment. The men of his day refused to believe a machine could do a better job than a human. Also, having to sweep with a lone broom and pick up garbage by hand guaranteed these men work, but this new contraption threatened their very livelihoods.

Eventually, cities grew larger and filthier, and lone men with brooms could no longer handle the grueling job of keeping the streets clean.

Grudgingly, the workers at last admitted the city’s need for such a machine and the Street Sweeper became indispensable.

Street sweepers are still seen across the United States today.

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