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A Story When No One Cleaned New York Streets for 9 Days

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 Society / Culture   |   Environmental   |   Science   |   Social Science
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Have you ever wondered what your city would look like if no one picked up the trash for two days? Doesnt sound too bad? And what if it got left out for a week or longer? As disgusting and unimaginable as it seems, thats what happened in New York once.

It all happened in 1968. The sanitation workers back then were all part of the Uniform Sanitation Mens Association. In May 1967, their official contract with the city ran out, and after 6 months with no contract, their leader threatened a strike. What they wanted was a $600 raise, and when they realized they wouldnt get it that easily, they got really mad. About 7,000 sanitation workers got together in City Hall Park and started their strike.

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What caused the strike 0:44
But it wasnt just about the money 2:18
What was happening on NY streets 2:34
What the governor came up 3:15
How the people reacted to that mess 4:51
Dirty New York of the end of XIX century 5:30
How much money the city spends on this work now 6:52
...and how all this happens 7:52

#newyork #NYC #funhistory

Preview photo credit:
Trash on the streets of the Lower East Side after the 1968 garbage strike in NYC: By Larry Mulvehill/Science Source/EAST NEWS,,
Animation is created by Bright Side.

Music by Epidemic Sound

- The workers were going strong with their strike. It wasnt just about the money. They saw it as a way to show everyone that even though they worked with trash, they shouldnt be treated as such.
- In a huge city like New York, with millions of inhabitants, trash piles up quicker than you can imagine. After 3 days of the strike, on February 5, there were about 30,000 tons of trash.
- The workers didnt feel like giving up, but neither did mayor Lindsay. He decided that if words wouldnt help the situation, maybe physical power would. He threatened to bring in the National Guard and make truckers do their job.
- In the meantime, Rockefeller came up with a different plan. He decided the sanitation department should answer directly to the state, and not the city.
- As the city was getting covered deeper and deeper in a blanket of trash, and nothing was done to resolve the crisis, other city unions threatened they would all go on a general strike.
- And, can you imagine there was a time when there were no city sanitation services in New York whatsoever? In fact, the Department of Street Cleaning, as you already know, was only created in 1881, but it didnt start working until 14 years later.
- Until 1895, New Yorkers had food waste, urine, and scraps of furniture just to name a few, up to their knees whenever they went for a walk in the city. Fortunately, it all changed when William Strong became mayor of the city.
- More than a century has passed since, but the mission of what is now The New York City Department of Sanitation remains essentially the same: they keep the city clean, sweeping the streets, figuring out how-to pick-up trash and where to take it.
- Keeping up all that work costs the city around $16 million a year. Sanitation workers travel around 47,400 fixed routes covering a total distance of over 6,000 miles (9,656 km) a day, every day.
- Staten Island used to be the burying ground for trash for many years, but that area was turned into a beautiful park that smells like wildflowers. These days, private companies transport trash to other states on the Eastern Seaboard and in the Midwest.
- The New York City Department of Sanitation only takes care of household trash, and private companies are responsible for servicing businesses and restaurants and taking out construction and demolition debris.

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