About Filthy Cities

Historian and broadcaster Dan Snow dredges up the stinking past of London, Paris and New York to show just how dirty these modern metropolises once were

Dan Snow

Modern London may be polluted in parts but it has come a long way in recent years

Once upon a time, city dwellers had to dodge the contents of bedpans or step over rotting corpses on their way to work. These germ-ridden and nose-offending obstacles may be a thing of the past for many us living in modern, 21st-century cities, but way back before we knew how to keep our streets clean and dispose of our waste, things were very different.

In this series, historian and broadcaster Dan Snow brings these cities’ stinking histories vividly to life from the bottom up. Taking the travelogue in a whole new direction – look out for extraordinary, hands-on demos and stunts and revolutionary CGI – Dan excavates the murky past in gruesome detail during defining periods in history. We’ll discover how modern capitals were forged in the muck of the past, emerging from ‘filthy cities’ into three of the world’s biggest metropolises.

Dan Snow delves into the dirty secrets of the streets of Paris

Dan Snow delves into the dirty secrets of the streets of Paris

Dan begins his trawl through the dirt of metropolitan history in London, and transports us back to the 14th century to see how the capital was forged, while trying his hand as a medieval muckraker, and trying a pair of wooden platform shoes to elevate him from the filth that covered the floor.

Then it’s off to Paris to discover how the insanitary living conditions helped start the French Revolution, and finally to New York where Dan discovers what it was like in the overcrowded city at the height of the Industrial Revolution.