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Driven by FearEpidemics and Isolation in San Francisco's House of Pestilence$
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Guenter B. Risse

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780252039843

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252039843.001.0001

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Not in My Backyard

(p.78) Chapter 4 Location
Driven by Fear

Guenter B. Risse

University of Illinois Press

This chapter discusses the problems of pesthouse siting. For more than half a century, strong, collective feelings of fear, anger, and disgust drove the relentless opposition to the various sites suggested for San Francisco's pesthouse. San Franciscans continued to appeal to miasmatic theories of disease to justify threatening to burn down and destroy existing structures. Political decisions about “place making” for an institution housing “loathsome” bodies were always highly emotional, contentious, and bitterly fought. Eloquently expressed at neighborhood meetings and in lobbying efforts, these sentiments suggest the presence of an emotional climate that developed within the context of nineteenth-century dangers associated with urbanization and industrialization in San Francisco.

Keywords:   place making, urbanization, industrialization, isolated areas, pesthouse siting, pesthouse locations, isolation facility

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