According to Elizabeth Royte in her book Garbage Land, “in the mid-19th century, city horses dumped 500,000 pounds of manure a day on its streets, in addition to 45,000 gallons of urine. These were hardworking beasts, and their average lifespan was just two-and-a-half years. In 1880, according to historians, 15,000 dead horses had to be cleared from city streets. A single carter couldn’t lift a horse, so the carcasses often lay around until scavengers and the elements reduced their mass.”
Brownstones were built in the late 1800′s when garbage on New York streets was sometimes two to three feet high; a heady combination of ash, household waste, horse manure and urine… nice. So if you’ve ever wondered why Brownstones have their main entrances on the first floor via “stoops” instead of street level, well that’s your answer.