Map of the 1873 Cholera Outbreak

This map was created by Jefferson County physician Mortimer H. Jordan in the aftermath of the Birmingham cholera epidemic of 1873. Cholera is a waterborne pathogen, and Jordan used his map to trace the path of the outbreak along the city's creeks and streams (dotted lines with drainage flowing to the left), which were too often used as dumping grounds for human waste among the poor. The outbreak spurred city leaders to improve Birmingham's sanitary systems and create the Birmingham Water Works to provide residents with clean, safe water.

Courtesy of the University of Alabama at Birmingham