Urbanization and Public Health: A Spatial Study of Infant Mortality and Land Use in 1880 Baltimore
Sarah E. Hinman
Infant mortality rates remained high in late nineteenth century cities. Industries and residences tended to locate near one another in these cities creating a complex mixture of land uses throughout much of the city. A lack of regulation, beyond nuisance codes, allowed the dumping of household and industrial wastes into street gutters only to have those wastes wash away to the nearest waterway or seep into the groundwater supply. This paper asks if land use is a factor affecting infant mortality patterns in 1880 Baltimore, MD. Using 1880 Vital Statistics Death Records, the 1876 Hopkins Atlas, and the 1890 Sanborn Fire Insurance Atlas, the geographic information system constructed displays the spatial distribution of individual infant deaths and laud use at the block level. The analysis of the resulting infant death and land use data uses spatial statistics, grid, and visual analysis. Industrial land uses in 1880 Baltimore do not appear to significantly affect the infant mortality patterns. The patterns of infant deaths are uneven and tend to cluster in low-lying areas, particularly in Fells Point. The lower elevations of the infant death clusters indicate that in low-lying areas contaminated ground water and increased the amount garbage in the street gutters as it washed downhill may have affected health conditions. This study of infant mortality provides a glimpse into the state of public health, the urban environment, and the urbanization process of late nineteenth century Baltimore.
infant mortality, land use, Baltimore, public health