Royal Iron Foundry near Gleiwitz – Rear View (c. 1850)
Austria had only ceded the province of Silesia to Prussia after the First Silesian War in 1742. During the period of industrialization, the town of Gleiwitz (Gliwice) became an important site for the iron and steel industry that flourished there. This lithograph offers a rear view of the Royal Iron Foundry established in 1794. Parts of the complex are obscured by emissions from the factory’s numerous smokestacks, clear evidence of one aspect of this industry’s negative impact on the environment. Other, less visible forms of pollution affected the water supply, since liquid waste from manufacturing processes was usually channeled directly or leached into lakes or rivers. Viewers of this scene might be rightly concerned about the carthorse that drinks from the water behind the foundry. Lithograph by unknown artist, c. 1850.