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Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain
Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

The Aroma of Tacoma: Why One Washington City Is Known For Its Stench

Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain
Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Tacoma, Washington has a rotten reputation. For decades, the city was enveloped in an undeniable stench. In fact, the foul emanation was so bad that Bruce Springsteen said it forced him to leave town early when he was there on tour in the mid-'80s.

The odor—reminiscent of rotten eggs—was partially attributed to the pollution in Commencement Bay, once ranked one of the 10 worst toxic waste sites in the U.S. When the tide was out, the smell was especially pungent. That water pollution combined with the air pollution—industrial smokestacks and animal renderings, in particular—and created a very particular scent. The aroma was so strong that it even inspired a song:

It’s much better these days. In the 1980s, the cleanup of Commencement Bay was placed on the Environmental Protection Agency’s National Priorities list. The EPA spent 25 years working with businesses and the community on various initiatives that would help restore the bay—and their efforts were largely successful.

In the 1990s, the Simpson Tacoma Kraft pulp and paper mill, one of the biggest air pollution offenders, also took a number of steps to reduce their noxious emissions. One of those solutions was upgrading their mill, which was responsible for a massive output of stinky sulfur.

So, the next time The Boss plays the port city, he'll find that the Aroma of Tacoma is now pleasant enough that he can enjoy his entire stay.

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CityWood, Kickstarter
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Art
Laser-Cut Wood Maps Showcase World Cities
CityWood, Kickstarter
CityWood, Kickstarter

You can already express your love for your local geography with a chocolate map or a custom-designed poster. The latest material for immortalizing your home city is laser-cut wood. As Curbed reports, CityWood is a line of striking, minimalist maps currently raising funds on Kickstarter. (The campaign has blown past its original $3000 goal by raising more than $73,000 so far—and counting.)

CityWood offers maps of nearly 100 cities, including New York, Los Angeles, London, and Tokyo. The waterways and city streets of each location are engraved into high-quality plywood using a laser cutter. The map is then put together by hand, and packaged inside a wood frame behind plexiglass.

Customers have their choice of sizes, from a small 5-inch-by-7-inch map for their desk to a 36-inch-by-36-inch display for their wall. Prices range from $29 to $439.

To preorder a CityWood map of your own, you can pledge to the product’s Kickstarter before the campaign ends on February 16. CityWood is also accepting votes on new cities to add to its lineup.

Wooden maps of various sizes.
CityWood, Kickstarter

Wooden map of city.
CityWood, Kickstarter

Wooden map on wall with chair.
CityWood, Kickstarter

[h/t Curbed]

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Douglas Grundy, Three Lions/Getty Images
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geography
This 1940 Film on Road Maps Will Make You Appreciate Map Apps Like Never Before
Douglas Grundy, Three Lions/Getty Images
Douglas Grundy, Three Lions/Getty Images

In the modern era, we take for granted having constantly updated, largely accurate maps of just about every road in the world at our fingertips. If you need to find your way through a city or across a country, Google Maps has your back. You no longer have to go out and buy a paper map.

But to appreciate just what a monstrous task making road maps and keeping them updated was in decades past, take a look at this vintage short film, "Caught Mapping," spotted at the Internet Archive by National Geographic.

The 1940 film, produced by the educational and promotional company Jam Handy Organization (which created films for corporations like Chevrolet), spotlights the difficult task of producing and revising maps to keep up with new road construction and repair.

The film is a major booster of the mapmaking industry, and those involved in it come off as near-miracle workers. The process of updating maps involved sending scouts out into the field to drive along every road and note conditions, compare the roads against topographical maps, and confirm mileage figures. Then, those scouts reported back to the draughtsmen responsible for producing revised maps every two weeks. The draughtsmen updated the data on road closures and other changes.

Once those maps were printed, they were "ready to give folks a good steer," as the film's narrator puts it, quietly determining the success of any road trip in the country.

"Presto! and right at their fingertips, modern motorists can have [information] on any road they wish to take." A modern marvel, really.

[h/t National Geographic]

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