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Back in January a librarian at the Brooklyn Public Library unearthed a fascinating article from 1951 about New York City's effort to eradicate tons of marijuana growing in the wild in the five boroughs. First printed in the now-defunct "Brooklyn Eagle" newspaper, the feature claims marijuana was "growing like a jungle" in empty lots in Brooklyn during the summer of 1951. All things considered, the NYC sanitization department eradicated 41,000 pounds of marijuana in 274 lots that summer. More details below.
Here's some more details via Patch.com's summary:
Marijuana “plantations,” both wild and cultivated, became the target of massive raids by the Department of Sanitation and the NYPD, who sought to eradicate the narcotic growth, said Gocker. In the summer of 1951, sanitation workers dug up and incinerated 41,000 pounds of marijuana from 274 lots around the city. Queens produced the largest crop, at 17,445 pounds, while Brooklyn was a close second, with 17,200 pounds.
The New Yorker magazine accompanied Department of Sanitation Chief Inspector John E. Gleason on one of his Brooklyn sweeps for an article in its August 11, 1951 issue.
“We can’t hope to wipe it out entirely,” Gleason told the magazine’s reporter. “A lot of it is planted, but the weed grows freely here, and most of the marijuana in the city is probably in the back yards of people who don’t know what it is, and therefore don’t report it. Each plant bears clusters of seeds that are blown away by the wind and sprout elsewhere.”
Somewhat less convincingly, an NYPD narcotics squad spokesman told a Brooklyn Eagle reporter in 1947 that “the weed is liable to pop up wherever flaxseed is fed to pigeons and wherever it falls on fertile soil.”
That same article describes a mile-long stretch along Newtown Creek where the weeds were thriving. Local factory owners had complained to their police precinct about the growth, fearing that its consumers “might go berserk and break into the factories.” Locals also reported “crazed” cats and dogs roaming the area.
Downtown Brooklyn saw its share of illegal agriculture, too. In 1951, a bold band of farmers cultivated a 300-pound patch in the middle of the building site for a new Civic Center, according to the Brooklyn Eagle. The following summer, a crop was found growing right beside the Brooklyn Federal Building, a block north of Tillary Street. Click here to keep reading...
Read more about it at the library's Brooklynology blog.
4:20 Joint of the Day
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