A Brief History on Street Sweepers

Person sweeping street | A Brief History on Street Sweepers | Wafer Brushes used by New York City Street Sweepers | Smith Equipment

Street sweepers silently play a huge part in our society. You probably don’t often think of the history of street sweepers, but our quality of life can be determined by many factors like clean water and clean air which are big ones! Street sweepers now use advanced technology to clean our streets and preserve aquatic wildlife, prevent flooding, and keep our breathing air safe. It was not always this way though, it is actually in the recent 30 years that we have become this good with our street sweeping technology.

The first ever street sweeper

According to vacuumcleanerhistory.com, the first street sweeper was not invented until 1843. The patent was named “The Patent Street Sweeping Machine of Manchester” and brought forth by Joseph Whitworth. In America, six years later, C.S. Bishop patented a street sweeping machine. Both of these machines were horse-drawn. There would not be a motorized version for more than sixty years!

It was not until 1911 that John M. Murphy invented a motorized version of the horse-drawn sweeper on paper. Together, the American Tower and the Tank company of Elgin, Illinois were convinced and funded the Elgin Sweeper Company. And after 2 years, the first one was purchased by the City of Boise, Idaho.

Very old street sweeper | A Brief History on Street Sweepers | Wafer Brushes used by New York City Street Sweepers | Smith Equipment

When the first street sweeper was needed

The need for a mechanism to clean the streets came after the industrial revolution in the 1840s in Manchester England. This city was known to have been the most developed but also was very trashed. The unhealthiness of the city was from having the first passenger railway service and the largest textile industry in the world at the time. The development was leaving a lot of trash and debris behind and the city needed a way to control this.

The evolution of street sweeping

Street sweepers remained the same until the 1990s and they mainly removed large items. The reasoning was that if the larger things were removed, the rain would take care of the rest. It was not found out until later that the little things are what get into our local water supply through storm drains and contaminate aquatic life.

Now, we have street sweepers that can clean debris so small, that there are some certified to pick things up as small as a micron! That is the size known for some items to get into our lungs. It is thanks to advances in street sweeper technology that we have machines that are highly capable of preventing storm drain pollution. Smith Equipment is one of the companies that make this possible by supplying brooms and accessories for many different kinds of street sweepers. Contact our team for a quote today!