Talking Trash: The NYC Department of Sanitation


Manage episode 239514780 series 1530999
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EPISODE 296: Picture New York City under mountains of filth, heaving from clogged gutters and overflowing from trash cans. Imagine the unbearable smell of rotting food and animal corpses left on the curb. And what about snow, piled up and unshoveled, leaving roads entirely unnavigable?

This was New York City in the mid-19th century, a place growing faster than city officials could control. It seemed impossible to keep clean.

In this episode, we chart the course to a safer, healthier city thanks to the men and women of the New York City Department of Sanitation, which was formed in the 1880s to combat this challenging humanitarian crisis.

Along the way, we'll stop at some of the more, um, pungent landmarks of New York City history -- the trash heaps of Riker's Island, the mountainous Corona Ash Dump, and the massive Fresh Kills Landfill.

PLUS: We'll be joined by two special guests to help us understand the issues surrounding New York City sanitation in the 21st century:

Robin Nagle is a Clinical Professor at NYU and the Anthropologist in Residence for New York City’s Department of Sanitation, and the author of "Picking Up - On the Streets and Behind the Trucks with the Sanitation Workers of New York City".

Maggie Lee is the records management officer in the Sanitation Department, and also serves as the deputy director for Museum Planning for the Foundation for New York’s Strongest. She has helped organize “What is Here is Open: Selections from the Treasures in the Trash Collection” -- an art show centered around pieces thrown out with the trash, which is currently running at the Hunter East Harlem Gallery at 119th and 3rd Avenue through September 14, 2019.

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