I've told you about the speed of smell thing, right? Maybe. Once I worked in an office building that had been emptied of staff waiting for a reno - except for my corner of one floor and the basement cafeteria. Oddly, they still were cooking for 273 down there even though there were only five of us left and we were mainly eating elsewhere at lunch. One noontime, we headed down to street level by the stairwell and immediately smelled the smell of the fish for lunch. But as we headed down we moved through archaeological strata of smells, eat two floors or so having the aroma of previous lunches. It was weird but they had turned off the air circulation and we had been using the elevator for weeks. I started to wonder about the speed of smell as well as the cultural fact of public smell.
To the upper right is a part of an insurance map of downtown Albany that Craig passed around via email today. Really an atlas, it's from 1892. An insurance map was a mapping of all elements of buildings a fire crew might encounter during a blaze. Building by building. Block by block. For whole cities. The Google maps of their day with interior information The detail is impressive. To the left is a detail of one page of the atlas showing Taylor's Brewing and Malting forty or fifty years after the city may well have been the biggest brewing center in the western hemisphere, pumping out over 200,000 barrels a year and 250 years or so after brewing started there. Taylor's place sat where Broadway met the Greenbush bridge on the waterfront. You can see that it stood five stories, where the cooperage was and that the malting floors were made of concrete. You can see that the hops were stored on the third floor.
Now click on the map above. Every insurance map book starts with an index map showing where all the other maps could be found. I have placed green around the location of the downtown breweries and their likely zones of stinkiness. Around these in red I have place their likely zones of lesser but still significant smelliness. I live in a relatively old place. Settled by the French in 1673 with British population starting in 1783 - when Loyalists from around Albany settled the place. The centers of these communities were smelly stinky places. Not like today. One of the main reeks in Albany in 1892, but by no means the only one, was the stink of the breweries. But it would have been normal.
Cities would have reeked of brewing. Imagine what happened when it was windy or when you walked across town.