Smoky City

A history of air pollution in Newcastle, NSW

Howard Bridgman, Nancy Cushing

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Geisteswissenschaften, Kunst, Musik / Geschichte


Smoky City takes a both scientific and cultural view at the history of air pollution, through the lens of Newcastle, NSW. The science looks at particle matter: the fine particles created by burning fuel or windblown dust which make up air pollution. The cultural view looks at historical sources, to analyse how Novocastrians and visitors perceive air pollution. Taken together, the scientific and cultural views provide a new perspective on what has been a defining issue for Newcastle for over 200 years, and other industrial cities around the world.

Newcastle, NSW, was long known as the 'smoky city'. Many Novocastrians remember when the BHP dominated the skyline and acrid hazes would regularly descend on the inner suburbs. Smoky City follows the city's history describing how industry, transport, manufacturing, housing and other developments slowly polluted the air, and how that, in turn, impacted people's day-to-day lives - everything from having to bring washing in several times a day to serious health issues, such as eye irritations and respiratory problems.

We meet the Novocastrians who led Australia in their campaigns to clean up the city, and how their activism eventually led to dramatically cleaner air for Newcastle. 

Despite improvements from the city's worst levels of air pollution during the mid 20th century, the battle for clean air continues. Today, residents close to the coal industry's infrastructure live with the constant presence of fine black dust. The authors look to the future and at attempts to manage the air pollution problem.

This book will interest anyone concerned with air pollution and environmental history.



New South Wales, urban geography, industry, environmental science, geography, air pollution, Newcastle NSW, air quality, BHP, pollution, Hunter River, Australian history, coal power, particle matter, dust