New York City residents produce 11,000 tons of garbage every day. Every day! This astonishing statistic is just one of the reasons Robin Nagle started a research project with the city’s Department of Sanitation. She walked the routes, operated mechanical brooms, even drove a garbage truck herself–all so she could answer a simple-sounding but complicated question: who cleans up after us?
Robin Nagle is an anthropologist with a very particular focus… garbage
Talking trash during the dog days: A brief history of sanitation in New York City
Without modern sanitation, life would be nightmarish—human and animal wastes would fester on the streets along with garbage and food scraps, producing a stench so foul that you’d want to keep your windows closed even in the sweltering heat of summer (for the moment, envision lacking the luxury of air conditioning). The offensive odors and accumulating muck would be the least of your worries, however—preventable diseases such as cholera and yellow fever would be rampant, your life expectancy would be extremely short, and infant mortality rates would be staggeringly high.
This is what life was like for many of the previous inhabitants of what is now New York City, from the arrival of the Dutch in the 1600s until the establishment of an official Department of Street Cleaning in the late 19th century.
Robin Nagle, professor of anthropology at New York University, chronicled this fascinating history of sanitation and public health in an illustrated lecture July 26 at N.Y.U.’s School of Medicine. Nagle’s talk, “How Street Cleaners Saved the City: Garbage, Government, and Public Health in New York,” was dotted with vivid descriptions of how the burgeoning sanitation system was influenced by underhanded dealings, two wars, repeated outbreaks of communicable disease, devastating fires and water crises.
Boy George is saying thanks to the city’s sanitation workers with a concert.
Boy George is putting down his broom and picking up a microphone.
The flamboyant singer plans to hold a private concert for city sanitation workers and their families in August to thank them for treating him kindly during his five days of community service in 2006.
“The people I worked alongside showed great kindness to me at a very difficult time and I wanted to thank them all in a way that would show my appreciation,” the “Karma Chameleon” singer said.
He was sentenced to the cleaning detail after falsely reporting a burglary at his Manhattan apartment where police found cocaine.
After five days, a bruised and blistered Boy George told the sanitation workers how much he appreciated their hard work.
“Keeping New York City safe and clean is a daunting challenge – as Boy George well knows – and we welcome his generous offer,” said First Deputy Sanitation Commissioner Michael Bimonte.
Read More – Daily News
There are lots of problems with public toilets in New York City, starting with the fact that there aren’t any.
New Yorkers have long been promised relief in the form of high-tech European toilets that take coins and clean themselves, but even though a few demonstration models have been installed here and there, they have never been able to multiply to critical mass the way, say, fiberglass cows and Duane Reade drugstores have.
Now there is bad news from Seattle, which is abandoning its experiment with five public toilets because they appear to do in that city precisely what some people fear they would do here — break down, promote prostitution and drug dealing, and somehow lead to more human waste on the streets, not less.
Read More – New York Times