Lesson One: Perspectives on economic growth and the environment
Cleveland's Cuyahoga River burned at least 13 times between 1868 and 1969. In fact, fires also occurred on waterways near Buffalo, Detroit, Chicago, New York, Houston, and Baltimore during the 19th and 20th centuries. In many American cities, rivers served as industrial streams and sewers that carried away the untreated waste that came with industrialization. An occasional fire was viewed as an unfortunate side effect of progress and hardly newsworthy.
The Cuyahoga River fire on June 22, 1969 was initially no different. The blaze was relatively minor compared to other conflagrations, extinguished in just thirty minutes before a single photograph could even be taken. However, in August of 1969, Time magazine ran a story titled "America's Sewage System and the Price of Optimism" that thrust Cleveland's burning river into the national spotlight and resulted in calls for more environmental protections.
Some river! Chocolate-brown, oily, bubbling with subsurface gases, it oozes rather than flows. Anyone who falls into the Cuyahoga does not drown," Cleveland citizens joke grimly. "He decays." A few weeks ago, the oil-slicked river burst into fames and burned with such intensity that two railroad bridges spanning it were nearly destroyed.
- Time magazine, August 1, 1969
Compare and contrast the text of the Cleveland Plain Dealer article and the Time magazine article about the Cuyahoga River fire of 1969. Read with a pen in hand and answer the following questions:
- Identify the source.
- When and where did the article appear?
- What factual information is conveyed in this article?
- What is not said in the article?
- What is the author’s tone?