5 Fascinating Facts About NYC’s Department of Sanitation (DSNY)

5 Fascinating Facts About NYC’s Department of Sanitation (DSNY)

Sometimes the greatness of a city can be measured by what we don’t see rather than what we do. The infrastructure of the biggest cities often entail fascinating worlds of their own, hidden completely out of sight for everyday citizens. It might not be something most of us think about often, but NYC generates garbage and waste on a nearly unimaginable scale, requiring a force of nearly 10,000 to take care of everything busy New Yorkers leave behind. Known as NYC’s Strongest, the Department of Sanitation (DSNY) is responsible for the estimated 12,000 tons of refuse and recyclables that New York discards every day. Here are 5 fascinating facts about one of the city’s grittiest and most essential agencies.

 

They Took Over a City Besieged by Trash

Before modern sanitation systems, the city’s streets and waterways were New Yorkers’ sole repository for garbage and waste. This means, yes, that the sidewalks (especially in poorer areas like Manhattan’s Lower East Side) were piled high with unthinkably unsanitary messes. The existing Street Cleaning Bureau was dreadfully inadequate, and a new streamlined Department of Street Cleaning was established in 1881. The current name was applied in 1929.

 

Their Giant Salt Crystal Houses the City’s Supply

At the western end of Canal Street, adjacent to the West Side Highway, sits one of the city’s most visually remarkable buildings. With no windows, you might guess this 70 foot high jagged, ultra-modern building was an art gallery or cutting-edge condominium rather than a municipal storage facility, but the Spring Street Salt Shed is the rare utilitarian building with high-art aesthetics. This unmistakable structure, completed in 2015, was designed specially to house the 5,000+ tons of salt the city keeps on hand for dispersal when snow strikes.

 

They’re Not Alone in Fighting Garbage Growth

While the Sanitation Department’s (mostly) white trucks are ever present in the city, it may surprise the uninitiated to know that they don’t collect nearly all of the waste created here. In fact, the Department’s collections are limited to private homes and buildings. 248 private collection companies supplement the work done by the DSNY by picking up the garbage created by private businesses from office skyscrapers to mom-and-pop bodegas.

 

They’ve Inspired Top Designers

It might sound like someone’s idea of a joke, but the world of haute couture is no stranger to the Strongest’s fashion sense. In 2016, designer Heron Preston introduced a line inspired by Sanitation workers’ uniforms just in time for New York Fashion Week. Eager trend-hoppers lined up around the block for Preston’s unique rollout at the Spring Street Salt Shed, with entertainment provided by the DSNY Pipe and Drum Band.

 

They’re Unlikely to Remain Underappreciated for Long

The ranks of the Sanitation Department aren’t strictly comprised of office workers and trash haulers. Since 2006, NYU Anthropology and Environmental Studies professor Robin Nagle has served as the agency’s official anthropologist, an unpaid position dedicated to studying the impact and future of refuse collection. Her work includes performing research on the waste-management ecosystem and acting as custodian of DSNY’s culture, with an Oral History and Museum of Sanitation in the works. Soon enough, thanks to Nagle’s work, the Department of Sanitation will have the citywide recognition it so richly deserves.

How NYC Streets Got Their Names

How NYC Streets Got Their Names

The history of New York City often lays unnoticed in the names of the streets and avenues that comprise it. From its origins as a colonial trade outpost to its current status as the cultural capital of the world, the oft-traveled thoroughfares of the five boroughs are a living history of the area’s influences and interests. These are just a few of the fascinating street name origins that have probably gone under your radar.

 

Bowery

A one-of-a-kind street in Manhattan, the Bowery’s name has meant plenty of different things to different eras of New Yorkers. From the punk rockers of the 1970s and 1980s to the chic types who populate its hip bars and restaurants today, no street’s denizens better exemplify the rapid speed of change in NYC. Perhaps that makes it strangely ironic that the name comes from the first and oldest use of this avenue, which was full of quiet, pastoral farmland. In fact, the name comes from the Dutch word for farm: bouwerij. The spelling was anglicized after the Dutch left town and has remained that way ever since.

 

Broadway

Manhattan’s most famous thoroughfare, like the similarly named Bowery, comes from the language of the city’s Dutch founders. Brede weg, simply meaning “wide road,” was an appropriate enough name, and remains so to this day. While it’s best known for being the home of the Theater District, the street doesn’t end on the island. While there are separate Broadways in Queens and Brooklyn, only the Bronx can say their version is truly part of the prominent one in Manhattan. In fact, the street runs even further north than that, extending 18 miles into Westchester County, finally ending in the town of Sleepy Hollow.

 

Canal St

Modern visitors to this Chinatown thoroughfare are awash in traffic and aggressive handbag sales but had they visited about 200 years ago they’d more likely be traversing this block in a canoe. Yes, similar to Wall Street to the south, Canal Street got its name from an actual canal, built to handle runoff from the swamps and marshes that occupied this area before urbanization. By 1820, the swamps were gone, and the canal had been paved over to become the island-spanning street we know today.

 

Kissena Boulevard

One of Queens’ oldest and longest roads, Kissena Boulevard connects Flushing and Jamaica while running directly down the center of the borough. The name comes from the Chippewa word meaning “it is cold,” derived by the lake of the same name found in Kissena Park. The street is not only an important landmark for New York City travelers but Rock and Roll historians as well. According to legend, Queens-born KISS guitarist Paul Stanley got the idea for his band’s name by shortening that of the street he traveled on as a child.

 

Eager for more etymological entertainment? Read our How NYC Neighborhoods Got Their Names or The Most Popular Dog Names in NYC.

The Transformations Behind NYC’s Hottest Music Venues

The Transformations Behind NYC’s Hottest Music Venues

New York is truly a city constantly in flux. Among the most exciting recent changes to the NYC landscape have been spaces fallen into disuse and reimagined into homes for the most thrilling music the world has to offer. These are the city’s latest and greatest major music venues, each borne from an old building transformed into something more vibrant and new.

source: bkmag.com

source: bkmag.com

Brooklyn Steel

The latest venue opened by Bowery Presents (owners of the Bowery Ballroom, Webster Hall, Terminal 5 and others), this former steelworks factory in East Williamsburg has been converted into the mid-sized concert hall of Brooklynite’s dreams. No longer will trips into Manhattan be necessary to see the likes of Elvis Costello, MGMT, and Godspeed You! Black Emperor on their NYC tour stops. The site’s repurposed metal fixtures, exposed pipes, and rugged factory-grade windows and ceiling fans are a reminder of what once was while giving big-name bands the Brooklyn edge they’re looking for when they swing into town.

source: foresthillsstadium.com

source: foresthillsstadium.com

Forest Hills Stadium

Named for the cozy Queens neighborhood it calls home, Forest Hills Stadium has a history matched by few venues in the five boroughs. Once host to shows by Frank Sinatra, the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Diana Ross, and countless other megastars, the stadium fell into disuse by the 1990s, necessitating a full renovation to get it back to its past glory. That happened in 2013, and reopened with a rousing show by Mumford and Sons to signal that Queens was once again a destination for music’s hottest acts.

source: kingstheatre.com

source: kingstheatre.com

Kings Theatre

The crown jewel of Flatbush Avenue, the Kings Theatre finally reopened in 2015 after a meticulous renovation. Formerly a vaudeville theater turned movie house, crowds came from around Flatbush and surrounding neighborhoods to enjoy the regal building until it was shut down in 1977. A renovation plan approved in 2010 and completed in 2015 restored the Theatre to its rightful place among the city’s finest seated music halls, even serving as host for Mayor de Blasio’s State of the City Address in 2018.

 

NYC style isn’t restricted to the bands that pass through town. Read our guide to 5 Architectural Styles that Define NYC or Public Artworks that New Yorkers Must See to Believe for more on the aesthetics of the city.

5 Public Artworks that New Yorkers Must See to Believe

From the Statue of Liberty to the Washington Square Arch, public art is an inextricable part of the NYC landscape. Outside of these established landmarks, there’s never a shortage of intriguing and thought-provoking pieces popping up across the five boroughs. These are a few public artworks currently on display around the five boroughs that help keep New York a vibrant center of culture, showing you don’t always need to visit a museum to get in touch with the world of art.

Source: upi.com

Source: upi.com

Various neighborhoods

Good Fences Make Good Neighbors

The sometimes controversial Chinese dissident’s latest piece uses the entire city as its canvas. At sites across Manhattan and Brooklyn, Ai Weiwei’s Good Fences Makes Good Neighbors serves as compelling commentary on the borders and separations that define our lives. Consisting of steel fences and pictorial banners strategically placed across the city, this piece is just the latest example of global artists using the city’s streets to make a vital statement.

source: brooklynjewish.org

Source: brooklynjewish.org

Brooklyn

OY/YO

On the more lighthearted side, this bright yellow construction consists of just two letters that carry a multitude of meanings for countless people. The 8-foot tall aluminum piece, depending on where on the Williamsburg’s North Fifth Street Pier and Park you’re standing, reads “YO” as in “I” in Spanish, or the slang “hey” salutation familiar to just about all New Yorkers. From the other side, the two letters read “OY,” perhaps a nod to the city’s many Jewish residents. Either way you choose to look at it, this piece by Deborah Kass is worth experiencing in person.

 

source: nycgovparks.org

Source: nycgovparks.org

The Bronx

Flying High for Equality

A highlight of the City Parks Department’s Art in the Parks initiative, Flying High for Equality sits perched on the southern slope of Joyce Kilmer Park along East 161st Street in the Concourse Village neighborhood in the Bronx. A flock of multicolored sparrows representing the varied communities found in the city overlook the colorful neighborhood adjacent to Yankee Stadium.

Source: risapuno.com

Source: risapuno.com

Queens

Common Ground

Another piece sponsored by the Parks Department brings vivid color to the green parks of New York. Queens’ Rufus King Park in Jamaica already stands out thanks to a colonial manor central to the park, and Common Ground brings a more down-home feeling to the compact park space. Brightly colored benches featuring mosaic designs comprise this utilitarian piece of art, providing a place that encourages park visitors to come together and enjoy friendship and camaraderie any time of year.

Source: untappedcities.com

Source: untappedcities.com

Staten Island

Eyes

The work of Polish-born artist Fitzhugh Karol, this highly interactive piece forms steel silhouettes into something new. Part public art, part playground, these works invite visitors to play and enjoy them while offering a highly unique aesthetic to Stapleton’s Tappen Park. Drawing inspiration from the freighters in nearby New York harbor, Eyes combines steel material with bright color.

Valentine’s Date Ideas for New Yorkers

Valentine’s Date Ideas for New Yorkers

Looking to do something beyond the usual for this upcoming Valentine’s Day? Luckily for you, NYC has tons to offer couples who have had their fill of candlelit dinners and ice skating trips. Here are a few fun ideas that your sweetheart will remember for years to come.

Take ‘Em to the Top

Even the most jaded New Yorker can appreciate the stunning view from one of the city’s high vistas, and The Top of the Rock above Rockefeller Center stands as a favorite for those in the know. Easier to manage crowds than the Empire State Building (with the advantage of being able to see the Art Deco masterpiece) and shorter waiting time than it’s more famous counterpart make this an underrated destination on any day, let alone the most romantic one of the year. If there was ever a place to make an unforgettable proposal, it’s here with the entire city at your feet.

Cupid’s Undie Run

This now-annual event takes full advantage of the adventurous spirit of many New Yorkers. Specifically, the ones willing to get down to their skivvies for a good cause-raising money for the Children’s Tumor Foundation. Cupid’s Undie Run takes participants on a mile-long jaunt around Pier 84 (just south of the USS Intrepid) on the Saturday closest to Valentine’s. So you and your partner can get on your favorite underthings and get moving! The after-party is sure to outlast the race itself and should be almost as breathtaking.

Robert Plant

There’s sure to be a “Whole Lotta Love” in the air as the former Led Zeppelin frontman brings his solo act to the Beacon Theater on February 14. Whether you and your date are diehards or casual fans, spending your special day with a rock and roll icon is certainly something that’ll outdo the usual candy-and-roses routine. This is one plant that won’t end up wilting after a week. Tickets are sure to go quicker than restaurant reservations, so hurry up and get your seats.

 

Still not sure where to spend this Valentine’s Day? Read up on some fascinating museum exhibits or unconventional activities that can double as great date ideas!

Famed Authors and the NYC Neighborhoods They Called Home

As a center of culture, it should come as no surprise that some major literary names have called New York City home. From natives to visitors, there are plenty of different kinds of NYC authors throughout history, and many neighborhoods make up a vital part of their histories. These are just four of the many acclaimed writers who inhabited some of New York’s most beloved neighborhoods.

bcb-property-management-mark-twain

 

Mark Twain

From the Mississippi River to Salt Lake City, there’s almost no corner of this country that the famed writer and humorist didn’t at least visit during his 74 years on Earth. His first visit to NYC at age 17 sparked a lifelong love of the Big Apple, and later in life, Twain lived in different addresses across the city: in the West Village, Gramercy, and even Riverdale in the Bronx, overlooking the Hudson River.

 

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Pete Hamill

For a certain generation, the story of New York City is found in the words of this Park Slope-born author, whose memoir A Drinking Life recalls his youth and misspent adulthood in Brooklyn during the 50s and 60s. Hamill, whose brother Denis is a regular columnist for the Daily News, cut his teeth in regional papers like the News, the defunct New York Herald Tribune, the New York Post, Village Voice, and Newsday. He now calls Prospect Heights home.

bcb-property-management-jd-salinger

 

J.D. Salinger

This Catcher in the Rye author was famously reclusive, so it’s no wonder his time on the Upper East Side was somewhat brief. Salinger rented an apartment at 300 East 57th Street right after Catcher was published, and stayed in his sparsely furnished pad for only a year before he moved to obscurity in New Hampshire. He would remain there until his death in 2010, never seeing the city again.

bcb-property-management-Herman_Melville

 

Herman Melville

The Moby Dick and Billy Budd author fed his nautical passions on merchant ships out of New York Harbor in the early to mid 1800s. Born into wealth in Lower Manhattan, his family suffered during recessions and Herman was forced to find work as a crewman, giving him the inspiration to write his beloved masterpiece in 1851. Unappreciated in his time, Melville died in his borough of birth in 1891 and was buried in the Bronx.

 

5 Unmissable Winter Events in 2018

5 Unmissable Winter Events in 2018

Temperatures are dropping, but that won’t give New Yorkers any excuse to stay in this winter. The 2018 calendar is already chock-full of great events and activities and these are just a tantalizing few of what the city has to offer in the coming cold months:

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David Bowie is – Brooklyn Museum

He left us behind in 2016, but the Starman’s memory still lives on into 2018 and beyond. Celebrate the artist’s multifaceted legacy at the Brooklyn Museum starting on March 2, when the David Bowie is exhibit returns stateside for its final display after a worldwide tour of 11 countries. The show will last into the summer, but die-hard fans will be bundling up to make the trip down Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn to pay their respects and celebrate a career that touched the outer reaches of the universe.

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Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show – Madison Square Garden

Every year, the floor at the World’s Most Famous Arena is ceded to the most celebrated collection of four-legged competitors this side of the Kentucky Derby. An NYC tradition since 1877, the Dog Show features feats of agility and discipline that put most dogs to shame, with plenty of intrigue and suspense as the awards are handed out. Will terriers continue their reign of dominance over Best in Show? Is this the year we see a Golden Retriever finally grab the crown for the first time? Get your tickets and be the first to find out!

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Madison Street to Madison Avenue Lunar New Year Celebration – Midtown East

January 1 is hardly the end to the fun of ringing in the New Year in NYC. This year’s Lunar New Year falls on February 16, and a week earlier on the 10th in Midtown East, a 20-block cultural celebration will commemorate the occasion, running from 54th to 77th Street. Welcoming the Year of the Dog means revelers are encouraged to bring their (perhaps award-winning?) four-legged friends to enjoy the food and festive performances. Participating retailers will be sharing proceeds from the festivities with The Animal Medical Center of New York, so even those pets who couldn’t make it will enjoy the benefit of this great event.

bcb-property-management-central-park-winter-jam

Winter Jam – Central Park

If you’re looking for something a little more hands-on, head on over to Central Park’s Bandshell Area near the East 72nd Street entrance. That’s where you’ll find Winter Jam, the now-annual celebration of winter sports you’d be hard-pressed to find elsewhere in the Big Apple. An artificial snowfield from the experts at Gore Mountain is the setting for skiing, snowshoeing, sledding, and even arctic golf. Even if you’re not feeling so athletic, expert ice sculptors crafting spectacular works and the Taste NY Winter Market will give guests something to look at, eat, and enjoy without breaking a sweat. The fun happens on January 27th, so have your coat and gloves ready.

bcb-property-management-restaurant-week

Restaurant Week – Citywide

Starting January 22, foodies and casual diners alike will take part in 2018’s first Restaurant Week, where a curated selection of restaurants open their doors for fixed-price 3-course meals that amount to a sumptuous discount over their usual prices. This year features $29 Lunches and $42 Dinners at what promises to be the most tantalizing collection of fine eateries in the country. If previous years are any indication, even the hardest-to-please eaters will leave with stomachs (and wallets) satisfyingly full. Can’t wait to dig into the city’s best eats? Read up on some of the international favorites you’ll find around the five boroughs any time of year in our Food Enclaves series.

The Best New Year’s Celebrations That Aren’t in Times Square

The Best New Year’s Celebrations That Aren’t in Times Square

There are few NYC images more iconic than the ball dropping in Times Square on New Year’s Eve. It’s been happening since 1907, and some say the first partygoers there are still waiting to get on the train home. If standing in the cold crowds for 5+ hours isn’t your thing, these are a few fantastic options for ringing in 2018.

The Midnight Run in Central Park

This New Year’s option will have you burning calories rather than packing on the hors d’oeuvres. New York Road Runners’ “Midnight Run” starts once the ball goes down, so you’ll want to speed through the 4 miles if you’ve got another party to get to. This run through Central Park’s inner loop counts towards credit to run the NYC Marathon next fall, so get the jump early on the competition with the first race of the calendar year.

Singles NYE at The Stitch Club

Got nobody to plant a kiss on when the clock hits 12? You’ll be in good company at Stitch Club’s annual New Year’s Singles Party. Put on your finest and get ready to mingle with NYC’s most eligible professionals, with icebreaker games and an open bar at the Midtown West nightspot. Complimentary champagne at midnight will assure you’ve got something to hold no matter what happens.

Coney Island New Year’s Eve Celebration

This summer destination lights up the wintertime for one night only, with free rides and ice skating to satisfy children of all ages. You might not be up for taking a dip, but dress warmly and the fun of Coney Island comes alive without the summer sun. Bring a blanket or just sit on the boardwalk under Brooklyn’s premier fireworks display, with live sideshow performances and entertainment to keep you thrilled up until the main event.

Circle Line New Year’s Eve Cruise

What’s better than watching the fireworks in a sea of people? How about watching them on the sea! The Circle Line hosts this city-spanning trip with some unbelievable views of the night’s revelry. Not to be outdone, the boat itself is a floating fete with DJ, food and open bar included with your ticket.

6 Great Museum Exhibits to Warm Up With in 2018

6 Great Museum Exhibits to Warm Up With in 2018

Summer weather is a distant memory by now, but NYC’s best museums have tons of great exhibits to get us through the winter. In a city with a huge range of things to do and see, these presentations show why these museums are cherished by New Yorkers old and new. Check out some of the featured collections that will make trekking through the cold well worth it in 2018.

Museum of Modern Art – Thinking Machines: Art and Design in the Computer Age

New York’s premier Modern Art museum can always be relied upon for a look at the most cutting-edge and thought-provoking works, and this exhibit running until April 8 is no exception. Thinking Machines gathers artworks designed by computer software and even formulated with artificial intelligence. This collection promises a fascinating look at the implications of computer learning-if they can create art, what else are machines capable of?

Metropolitan Museum of Art – Celebrating the Year of the Dog

What better way to ring in the year of the dog than an artistic tribute to our four-legged friends? Humankind’s best friend for millennia, dogs have inspired artisans and artists throughout history, appearing in everything from practical metalworks to regal earthenware statues. Visitors to the collection are sure to gain a newfound appreciation for their loyal pooches. This exhibit gathers a wide spectrum of East Asian canine pieces from the Met’s extensive archives just in time for the Lunar New Year on February 16.

Museum of the Moving Image – Video Arcade

In their heyday, video arcades were the premier place to discover the latest and greatest games. While that action has moved to our living rooms, visitors to the Museum of the Moving Image can step back in time into a faithful recreation of the fun centers of the 1980s (minus the cigarette smoke). Games ranging from early classics like Defender and Frogger sit here alongside 90s favorites Mortal Kombat and NBA Jam, making this interactive exhibit a mecca for gamers of any age. Arcades like this are a thing of the past, and this exhibit will be the same at the end of January 2018. So gather up those quarters and hop the R train to Astoria before it’s too late!

Museum of the City of New York – Mod New York

1960s counterculture lives in NYC in 2018, thanks to this exhibit featuring the fashions that shocked one generation and thrilled another. The Mod look, originating in London, hit its stride on these shores with even First Lady Jackie Kennedy (she of Hamptons high society) trying on the revolution in self-expression. In addition to an extensive clothing collection, talks and film screenings bring the spirit of the anything-goes 1960s to the Museum’s Upper East Side address through April 1.

New York Public Library – Picturing the City: Illustrated Maps of NYC

The evolution of New York City is an endlessly fascinating subject for many, and this exhibition gives visitors a bird’s-eye view of those changes. Curated by historian and author Katherine Harmon, Picturing the City promises an illuminating look at the entire history of Manhattan’s growth from Dutch trading post to the cultural capital of the world. A special emphasis on creative maps adorned with rich illustrations and the character of the city makes what could be a dry presentation to a fun and engaging survey of shifting attitudes and the unique character of the streets of NYC.

Food Enclaves of NYC: Greenpoint

Food Enclaves of NYC: Greenpoint

One of Brooklyn’s most appealing neighborhoods for its proximity to Manhattan and relative affordability compared to it’s neighbor to the south, Williamsburg, Greenpoint is home to some of the most intriguing food options in NYC. Long a beacon for Polish immigrants, this area is home to some of the finest pierogies, kielbasa, and other favorites this side of Gdansk.

Source: Yelp

Source: Yelp

Polish and Slavic Center Cafeteria

Untouched by the new wave of residents, this old-fashioned ethnic hall serves up untouchable ethnic favorites in a declasse, cafeteria setting. The prices are nearly as pleasing as the food, with affordable options in old-country comfort food to rival any hipster cafe. The stark decor and still atmosphere mean you might not be coming here on a first date, but this is the kind of place you bring them once you’ve got someone special. These pierogies are so good, you’re not going to want to share them with just anybody.

Karczma

Looking for something a little more modern? Opened in 2007, this popular rustic-looking Polish restaurant brings to mind an old country farmhouse, with the sumptuous dishes that could have come straight out of your babcia’s kitchen. Garnering praise from locals and tourists alike, Karczma stands out for having a friendly, knowledgeable staff and a wide array of menu options. If you’re looking to come by on a weekend, get here early! The only downside to the great food and atmosphere is that the place fills up quick.

 

Source: amny.com

Source: amny.com

Kiszka Meat Market

If you came to Greenpoint looking for a piece of Polish heaven to bring home, look no further than this deli and meat market in the heart of the neighborhood on Manhattan Avenue. Regulars come here to fill their freezers with the best fresh sausage, bacon and pork cuts at throwback prices. Even your vegetarian friends will love to come by Kiszka, with the city’s most tantalizing cabbage rolls on order.

Loved this culinary round-up? To see more great NYC food enclaves, check out our trips to Jackson Heights in Queens, the Bronx’s Arthur Avenue district, and Caribbean favorites in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.