|Garbage picker, Lower West Side, 1915, Lewis Hine.|
|Department of Sanitation "White Wings" sweeping up— linen-suited and pith-helmeted, |
they were a public relations coup and a success for decades. Photos by Alice Austen
|Part of a map Encroachment of Nuisances upon Populous Up-town Districts, 1865; A pig in a bakery cellar, 1902; |
Fifth Street, March, 1893. From the brochure to the New York Public Library exhibition Garbage! (1994)
|From the brochure to the New York Public Library exhibition Garbage! (1994)|
Nineteenth century New York City would probably be unbearably offensive to 21st century sensibilities. For instance, in 1880, 15,000 horse carcasses had to be retrieved from city streets along with tons of manure from those thousands of beasts that were still alive. (Though we perhaps still face other noisome assaults, sanitation workers--and citizens--do not have to deal with too many carcasses or dung heaps anymore.) Manhattan street sweepings including manure and ash would be carted to dumps lining the periphery of the island. There, the contents of innumerable wagons was spread by "trimmers" into 100 x 30 x 9 foot scows used to dump the trash out at sea. On the West side there were dumps at Canal, 30th, 47th, 79th, 97th, 134th Streets keeping real estate prices down, on the East side there were those at Jackson, Stanton, 30th, 46th, 60th, 80th, 107th, and 139th Streets. And that was only the Manhattan river dumps-- there were land dumps, incinerators, grease skimming and bone boiling plants, and horse rendering factories pocking the landscape through out the boroughs. Brooklyn and Queens marshlands were “reclaimed” and made “valuable” with trash dumps. With a history like that no wonder New York turned away from its waterfronts for decades. It is only in recent years New Yorkers have had access to the riverside—or would even want to.//
You might be surprised to learn just how many books there are on garbage—and I just came across a review of another, Picking Up, by Robin Nagle, the Department of Sanitation's official anthropologist in residence. I'd like to spend a day with her.
|Garbage scows like these hauled trash out to sea from stations along the waterfront.|
The last scow to dump garbage set forth on June 28, 1934.
Excessively watermarked image from the Municipal Archives.
|Garbage picker under the 30th Street dump, Jacob Riis, 1890s. From the New York Public Library exhibition Garbage! (1994)|
|Barren Island relics, 2013. 'Garbage' I picked up on one of my excursions...|