Ah, summer in New York City! It simply can’t be beat—even when you’re beating the heat. Grab a treat from an ice cream truck, nap in Central Park, have a ball on Fire Island, and much, much more. Do you feel that NYC summer groove yet?
From cultural festivals to happening concerts to refreshing swims, the big city offers it all during this time of year. Without further ado, let’s take a look at six summer events in NYC that you absolutely have to attend. You should probably start requesting vacation days…like right now.
1. Experience literary masterpieces at Shakespeare in the Park
All summer long at Delacorte Theater in Central Park
Even if you didn’t forget all those awesome lines from Macbeth, Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, and all the other great works, you know Shakespeare is best enjoyed live. Bring some popcorn and soda to the 1800-seat Delacorte Theater in Central Park and enjoy a professionally-performed Shakespeare play—for free!
Free tickets are distributed every day there is a performance starting at 12 p.m. Check the performance calendar in advance, as tickets go fast.
2. Listen to the music at Panorama Music Festival
July 27-29 at Randall Island’s Park
Though Panorama Music Festival just launched in 2016, it’s already one the biggest music festivals in NYC. It’s easy to see why, with some of the biggest names in hip hop, electronic, and rock music coming to perform.
This year’s lineup is stacked. Feature acts include Migos, Gucci Mane, David Byrne, Charlotte Gainsbourg, DJ Python, Jhene Aiko, The War on Drugs, Lil Wayne, and numerous other great groups and individual talents. Clearly, you should be there, too! Grab a shiny glow stick, some retro sunglasses, and whatever other concert gear you need—and go.
3. Dance the night away at Midsummer Night Swing
June 26-July 14 at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts
Remember this saying: Summer is for dancing. Wait, is that a saying? Regardless, take those words to heart—and head to Midsummer Night Swing during late June and the first half of July.
The dance floor at Lincoln Center opens each night at 6 p.m. There are group dance lessons from 6:30-7:15 p.m., which are then followed by live sets. There’s also a silent disco party that starts at 10 p.m. (it’s quite the scene). Be sure to book your tickets in advance, as they sell quickly.
4. Watch pro eaters at Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest
July 4 at noon. at Coney Island USA
Admit it: You’re intrigued by what it takes to win the Mustard Belt. In the men’s competition, Joey Chestnut won the 2017 Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest by eating an event-record 72 hot dogs in 10 minutes; in the women’s competition, Miki Sudo won by devouring 41 hot dogs in 10 minutes. Yes, those amounts in that time frame are mind-boggling—which is why the event is a must-attend. The contestants have a unique mix of true grit and highly expandable stomachs that you just won’t find anywhere else.
Even better, you can combine attending the hot dog eating contest with spending a day at Coney Island. Just thinking about all the candy, rollercoasters, and sand to enjoy at Coney Island should have you jumping for joy already.
5. Get out in the streets for the NYC Pride March
June 24 at noon, beginning at 7th Avenue and 16th Street
The NYC Pride March began in 1970, and is now the biggest Pride celebration in the world. In 2017 alone, there were more than 450 marching contingents. Famous celebrities, politicians, activists, and artists are always in attendance.
The 2018 theme, “Defiantly Different”, is about showing power and togetherness in the face of adversity. There are expected to be more than 40,000 marchers and 100-plus colorful floats. Grand marshals include Billie Jean King, Kenita Placide, and Tyler Ford. The march ends at 29th Street and Fifth Avenue, so look for a spot early somewhere along the parade route (or march in it!).
6. See dragons on water at the Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival
August 11-12 at Flushing Meadows Park
The traditional Chinese Dragon Boat Festival (‘Duanwu’ Festival) commemorates the ancient poet Qu Yuan’s suicide with a spirited aquatic racing competition. In 278 BC, out of concern for his homeland, Qu Yuan jumped into the water and drowned himself. Local fishermen attempted but failed to save him by throwing rice dumplings to feed the fish (so the fish wouldn’t eat the poet). This is the history behind Dragon Boat Racing.
Each year in Queens, this history is remembered with the Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival, where roughly 180 dragon-boat teams from around the globe race for glory. While attending, enjoy traditional food, martial arts demonstrations, lion dance performances, and more.
Visitors from around the world come to New York City in droves to take in the sights and sounds of Broadway, with over 11 million theater fans visiting in 2017. But for one night, all those stars hop over to the screen for a celebration of everything that makes Broadway theater an exciting tradition.
This year’s 72nd Annual Tony Awards will be hosted by Sara Bareilles and Josh Groban and air live on CBS from Radio City Music Hall on June 10th at 8PM EST. And yes, those are facts the casual observer may already know. But here are 8 some theater lovers may not!
Who is Tony?
The prestigious award was posthumously named after Antoinette “Tony” Perry, an actress, director, producer, and co-founder of the American Theatre Wing. The award was named to honor her for her charitable work with the ATW during WWII.
Tony, She Hosts
Angela Lansbury, best-known for her portrayal of J.B. Fletcher in Murder, She Wrote, has taken to hosting or co-hosting duties more than anyone else: a record 5 times in 1968, 1971, 1987, 1988, and 1989. Neil Patrick Harris and Hugh Jackman are right behind her with 4 hosting appearances each.
The Music of the (Tonys) Night
To date, the Best Musical with the longest run on Broadway is Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera. The iconic show opened in 1988 and has garnered 7 Tony Awards so far.
All In The Family
Amanda Plummer, best known for her film roles in Pulp Fiction and the Fisher King, is the only Tony Award winner whose parents, Christopher Plummer and Tammy Grimes, are also Tony winners for their contributions to the stage.
What Goes Around…
What a whirlwind the Tonys are–the award night and the award itself. The pendant-like trophy emblazoned with the masks of comedy and tragedy on one side, and the name of the winner and the year on the other, has been in ‘rotation’ since 1967. Though the trophy itself didn’t always move, the addition of a curved iteration lets Tony spin!
Lucky Number 6
2018 is sure to make history (or herstory?) at the Tonys. For the first time ever, six women have been nominated in the Best Leading Actress in a Musical Category. Having six nominees in any category is uncommon, so this is a powerful testament to how much talent roamed the stages this past year. The first time six performers were nominated for a single category was for Best Actress In A Play. The winner that night was Julie Harris for The Lark in 1956.
The Night of the Big Show
The first ever Tony Awards were presented at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City on April 6, 1947. At the time, anyone could purchase a ticket to attend the ceremony for $7. Those hoping to get a ticket this year to see the show at the Radio City Music Hall would need to shell out more than a hundred times that amount.
Lights! Cameras! Tonys!
The Tonys were broadcast to TV audiences for the first time in 1956. At the time, the award show could only be seen by those tuning into the now-defunct DuMont Network–a CBS rival at the time–where the Tonys currently air.
Regardless of whether they’re attending the show in person or from the comforts of home, New Yorkers and their fellow Broadway aficionados are sure to enjoy this annual night at the theater!
New York. It’s a dog-eat-dog town. If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere. And if you own a dog, most likely, your dog can accompany you here, there, and everywhere. One walk down a main drag and it’s clear: New Yorkers love their mutts. From prize-winning Afghan Hounds in the UES to Shiba Inus in Brooklyn, New York is a pretty dog-friendly place–which is a good thing when dealing with the hustle and bustle of the city. So, let’s take a look at just 10 places your dog is welcome in the Big Apple.
1) Union Square – William Secord Gallery
If you love art as much as you love your pooch, you’ll appreciate the William Secord Gallery which is a one-of-a-kind space that sells nineteenth and twentieth century animal paintings. Founded by William Secord in 1990, it is a rare and popular destination for those looking to combine their love of the obscure, their dogs, and art–including paintings, sculptures and art on paper. To memorialize your visit, you can also commision a portrait of your pet.
2) Tribeca – Water4Dogs
If your dog is disabled or injured, swimming and hydrotherapy is great for bonding and healing for pets. This Tribeca doggie rehab center is a special place that offers a fully-equipped facility with a wide-range of services dedicated to the recovery of your wo(man)’s best friend. The team of highly experienced vets and physical therapists are knowledgeable in the latest rehabilitation techniques so your dog will be in good hands.
3) Williamsburg – Lucky Dog
You lucky dog! Now, you can combine the things you love: Mr. Peepers, games, and a place to whet your (dog) whistle. As the name suggests, dogs are more than welcome here. Known as a favorite neighborhood dive on Bedford Ave in Brooklyn, they serve dog owners as well as people with a great beer selection. The non-stuffy atmosphere and backyard make it a favorite for pooch-lovers.
4) East Village – d.b.a.
What’s in a name? The moniker, rumored to stand for “does business as” may be lowercase but this bar continues to be a big deal for dog-lovers. Open since the mid-90s, d.b.a.’s European and domestic microbrews is 20-deep in its draft selection. Beers like Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier from Germany and stateside Southampton Imperial Porter are a refined beer connoisseur’s dream. Add Fido for company, and all is good in the world.
5) Gowanus – Mission Dolores
Though you’ll still be safely in New York, the name is borrowed from the oldest Catholic outpost in San Francisco, California. Mission Dolores is an auto-shop turned beer courtyard and dog-friendly bar. Constructed like a glass greenhouse with rustic touches, this unique place is perfect for you and your unique dog.
6) Greenwich Village – Cornelia Street Cafe
The restaurant and bar with the same name as the street it resides on is a staple of Greenwich Village. Opened in the summer of 1977, the cafe is known as the birthplace of the Monday night songwriter’s workshop which became known as The Songwriter’s Exchange. With impressive past performers like folkstar Suzanne Vega, this place is a great way to teach your dog a little NYC history while you eat.
7) Kips Bay – Dog and Bone
Dog and Bone pretty much sums it up. With a dog named Winston for a manager and an outdoor patio, dogs and their persons are welcome to eat side-by-side though the meals are not for dogs. With casual fare like bangers and mash and other sausage-centric plates on the menu, you’ll flock to this place like a dog with a bone.
8) South Street Seaport – Fresh Salt
Inside the historic Smokehouse Building lays a restaurant and bar that is a fan of its furry friends. With outside service perfect for a spring or summer meal with your dog, Fresh Salt is a fresh take on American comfort food like mac and cheese, meatloaf sandwiches, as well as cocktails, wine, and beers.
9) Midtown East – Parnell’s Pub & Restaurant
Have a pint and a meal at this traditional Irish pub with dog-friendly outdoor seating. With an extensive menu, the welcoming establishment serves everything from mussels to marinated pork tenderloins—as well as crowd favorite fish and chips.
10) All Over NYC – Dog Parks
If there was any doubt that we love dogs in New York, just look at this list of dog parks all over the city in almost every neighborhood. So take advantage of it, and take your four-legged roommate for a run or a walk in the park.
This winter’s weather has been memorable to say the least, but where does it fit historically? If you think 2017-18 was especially brutal, you’re right, but you might be surprised at how it stacks up against previous NYC winters.
While it may have felt like the cold temperatures were the definition of extreme, the 2017-18 season didn’t break any records. Average monthly record lows continue to stand at 14 degrees for November (1955), 0 degrees for December (1989), -4 degrees for January (1994), -3 degrees in February (1979) and 5 degrees for March (1981). But averages don’t provide us with the jaw-dropping figures we really want: the lowest temperatures ever recorded. Somewhat disappointingly, however, even within this context, 2018 didn’t break any records. NYC’s lowest ever recorded temperature is -15, which happened on February 9th, 1934. This winter didn’t register any frigid days that broke the top ten coldest days ever ranking.
Snow was a slightly different story, although none of this past winter’s storms were the largest ever. Still, 2017-18 was the fifth consecutive season that at least 30 inches of snow have fallen in NYC (the average snowfall per season since 1869 has been 28.8 inches). The only other time it snowed this much for five consecutive years was back in the 1880s.
This year, we also managed to beat per month snowfall averages in January, March and April. And, we’ve had 40.9 inches of snow in total, making it the 32nd-most snowiest season in the past 149 seasons, which is as long as we’ve kept track. NYC’s record for snow in a single winter is 75.6 inches, set in the 1995-96 season. Our record for snow in a single month is 36.9 inches, set in February 2010.
The biggest snowstorm on record to ever hit NYC occurred on February 11, 2006, when it snowed 26.9 inches in two days. 2016’s January 22-24 storm ranks just .1 inches behind at 26.8 inches. Other historic snowstorms occurred in December 1947, March 1888 and February 2010.
This winter NYC did manage to break one notable record, although it wasn’t for the cold. On February 21st, the city hit 78 degrees, breaking the previous record for that day, which had been 68 degrees set back in 1930. It was the warmest February temperature ever recorded in Central Park, breaking an 88-year record; the previous all-time high had been 75 degrees.
So, no, it wasn’t your imagination: it snowed A LOT this winter. And this year was part of the aforementioned snowier-than-usual trend that we’ve seen for the past five years. But as much as it might’ve felt like it was the coldest, fiercest, snowiest winter on record when our toes were going numb during our daily commutes, it wasn’t the worst we’ve seen. Not even close.
Looking for something to do now that the winter is (hopefully) over? There are still a couple of our Spring Events yet do go down, and the warm weather is always a good reason to check out one of NYC’s impressive (and free) parks for a productive springtime workout!
New York is always changing, and the Brooklyn getaway once known as “America’s Playground” is no exception. Once considered past its prime, Coney Island has recently transformed from a shadow of its former self to an entertainment destination worthy of its legendary name. As the springtime thaw warms up the city, many are likely to find themselves drawn back to NYC’s great beach escape. These are just a few of the exciting recently-established attractions that await them.
Coney Island Museum
This neighborhood is good for much more than a day at the beach. This museum, operated by the Coney Island USA nonprofit, houses artifacts of the old Coney Island and in their words, “defends the honor of American pop culture.” Here, Coney Island’s truly unique character shines through in collections and exhibitions that show off the creative character that has made this beachfront area a beacon for artists and sunbathers alike for over 100 years.
Ford Amphitheater at Coney Island Boardwalk
Nothing draws in visitors like a good show, and this cutting-edge venue, opened in 2016, has already brought in some star-studded attractions far from the clubs and theaters of Manhattan. With room for 5,000 fans and proximity to plenty of public transportation, it’s no wonder the Ford Amphitheatre has already carved out a place among the best music venues in NYC. The Beach Boys, Daddy Yankee, and Willie Nelson among many others, took the stage over the amphitheater’s first two summers to thrill thousands of fans, and this year’s slate is sure to keep the thrills coming for music lovers of all types.
Thunderbolt Roller Coaster
Anyone who knows anything about Coney Island is surely familiar with the famed Cyclone thrill ride, but some may not be aware of its once-great predecessor. The original wooden Thunderbolt, built in 1925 and dismantled in 2000, shares only a name with the new kid on the block: a modern steel coaster featuring all the loops, corkscrews, and dives that present-day riders love. Since it went up in 2014, the Thunderbolt has lent the Coney Island ‘skyline’ a reminder that the area’s prime years of amusement are not behind it.
Coney Island Brewery
Right in the shadow of MCU Park (home of the Brooklyn Cyclones) sits one of the city’s finest breweries. Their beers are on tap citywide but there’s no place like the source itself, especially on a hot summer day right off the boardwalk. Perennial beer lovers need not worry, for even during the cold Coney Island winters this destination is open for business. That means any time of the year is just fine for visitors to warm up with a pint or two at the Brewery.
NYC is already a foodie paradise-with more restaurants than you could visit in a lifetime-but who’s to say you can have too much of a good thing? More and more developers across the five boroughs are opening food halls, dedicated spaces featuring a variety of food options under one roof. These are 3 of our favorites!
Dekalb Market Hall – Downtown Brooklyn
Sited in the basement of the remodeled Albee Square Mall, CityPoint features a new Target, Century 21, and Alamo Drafthouse movie theater, but the biggest attraction sits in the basement. This bustling hall holds 40 vendors representing the spectrum of Brooklyn eats, from tacos to pierogis and everything in between. Perhaps the most enticing option are the mile-high pastrami sandwiches from Katz’ Deli-available outside of the Houston St. original for the first time ever.
Hudson Eats – Battery Park City
Underneath the picturesque Winter Garden Atrium in Battery Park City’s Financial Center, Hudson Eats boasts perhaps the city’s most massive food hall, with big names suitable for the enormous space. Mighty Quinn’s BBW, Dos Toros Taqueria, and Blue Ribbon Sushi are just a selection of the top-quality fare to be found in the shadow of the Freedom Tower, located just across West Street.
Shops at Queens Crossing – Flushing
Arising from a former mall food court, the Shops at Queens Crossing feature a major upgrade from the fast food of yesterday. Appropriately enough for the majority Asian neighborhood, Flushing’s brand new food hall features foodie-grade bubble tea, Hawaiian poke, Japanese sushi, Chinese dim sum, Thai ice cream, and even some French and British options. For New York’s most diverse borough, it’s only right that an international flavor is in the offering.
Springtime means baseball season is in full swing (among other things), so fans can settle in for another summer of hardball action in all corners of New York City. Whether at Yankee Stadium, Citi Field, or one of the hundreds of sandlots and park diamonds around the five boroughs, New Yorkers can’t get enough of America’s Pastime. With a rich history spanning the very earliest recorded games to the present day, New York has been the site of some of the most thrilling and memorable happenings in the major leagues. Read on for our list of the 5 biggest baseball moments in NYC history.
The Shot Heard ‘Round the World
Before they packed up for the West Coast, the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants continually gave National League fans all the entertainment they could hope for–without having to trek to Broadway (or the Bronx). The Polo Grounds in Harlem, the Giants’ home turf, was the site of this rivalry’s most unforgettable moment. With the 1951 League Pennant (the big prize in those days) on the line, this final game of the season came down to the most famous home run in history, as Bobby Thomson crushed Ralph Branca’s pitch down the short left field line, cementing the Giants’ snatching victory away from the then-dominant Dodgers.
Bums No More
Brooklyn’s Dodgers may have been perennial National League champs, but when it came to the subsequent World Series against the American League’s number one, the Yankees had their number. The Bronx Bombers beat out Brooklyn’s “Bums” in 1941, ‘47, ‘49, ‘52 and ‘53, leading many an Ebbets Field regular to wonder if they’d ever bring the trophy home to 55 Sullivan Place in the neighborhood of Flatbush. Appropriately enough, it was 1955 when manager Walter Alston, star second baseman Jackie Robinson, and the rest of the Dodger squad finally toppled the Yanks in 7 hard-fought games to attain the crowning achievement: a World Series championship for Brooklyn.
A Miracle in Flushing
Once the Giants and Dodgers fled for California, National League fans didn’t have to wait too long before a new squad popped up to rival the AL’s Yankees. Unfortunately, what they got (initially) was a series of disappointments. The expansion-team Mets set a new standard for hopelessness, losing an MLB record 120 games in their 1962 debut season. By 1969, the Flushing, Queens-based team had shockingly turned things around, culminating in a thrilling Fall Classic showdown with the Baltimore Orioles. Led by Hall of Fame pitcher Tom Seaver, the newly nicknamed “Miracle Mets” pulled off one of the greatest upsets in World Series history over the previously dominant Orioles, winning the Series in 5 unforgettable games.
Mr. October Goes Deep
After a (relatively) long championship drought, the Bronx was itching for a winner. Fiery manager Billy Martin and star outfielder Reggie Jackson had brought plenty of drama to NYC’s tabloid back pages, but it was in 1977 that this pairing finally paid off with a championship win for the pinstriped Yankees. The Los Angeles Dodgers gave them all they had, but it wasn’t enough to overcome Jackson’s legendary Game 6 breakout. His three home runs in the game are still a World Series record and an undeniable feat in baseball history that has yet to be matched.
Two New Cathedrals
In a city that sees new and spectacular structures built on a seemingly daily basis, it may have been a little surprising that no major sports facility had gone up in New York since the current Madison Square Garden opened in 1968. By 2009, it was time for NYC to get a double dose of modernity, as the new Yankee Stadium and the Mets’ Citi Field both opened their doors for the first time. Replacing the House that Ruth Built and lovable Shea Stadium in fan’s hearts would take some time, but if any group can handle change, it’s the loyal baseball fans of New York City. Less than a decade later, each building is solidly home for each franchise, having hosted a World Series apiece with many more sure to come.
A day at the park doesn’t have to mean leisure time. Many New Yorkers, eager to make the most of their workouts, hit the city’s many parks to get and stay fit all throughout the year. These are four spots across the city where fitness freaks can get an intense workout while enjoying the city’s best green spaces.
Running Track – Van Cortlandt Park
The Bronx’s showcase (and third largest park in NYC), Van Cortlandt Park is home to a golf course, cricket pitch, bocce court, and even a Gaelic football field, but those looking to work up a solo sweat will find it in the park’s southwest corner, just south of the tennis courts. The Van Cortlandt Stadium on Broadway between 240 and 242nd street is the perfect staging area for cardio at any level, from marathoners to weekend warriors. Test out your speed on the 400 meter track, or run up the concrete stadium steps for a vertical element to your workout.
Swimming – Flushing Meadows Corona Park
If you’re looking to burn some calories and build muscle without getting drenched in sweat, the pool is where you belong. Queens’ biggest park is home to a state-of-the-art aquatics center with an Olympic-sized pool, with all levels of swimmers welcome. A nominal membership fee (much lower than typical gym fees) will get you in for swimming year-round and seasonal ice skating at the attached rink-the best of both worlds in recreation and fitness.
Hanging Bars – Tompkins Square Park
Alphabet City’s green oasis is also home to one of New York City Parks’ most well-known and tough public fitness areas. What at a glance might look like a garden variety jungle gym is, in fact, an adult-ready set of steel frames to test even the most accomplished pull-up champ. Bring your A-game to this array of multi-colored hanging bars in the northeast corner of the park, or risk getting squeezed out by the park’s ultra-toned regulars.
Watersports – Marine Park
If your interests tend a little towards the unexpected (for NYC, at least) a ride down to Marine Park for some kayaking and paddleboarding is well worth the trip. This far-flung Brooklyn neighborhood’s namesake park (reachable by car or bus, but not subway) features not only 530 acres of grassland, but the Gerritsen inlet, a purpose-built launching spot for small boats and watercraft. Bring your own or rent one from a nearby kiosk and get your blood pumping while enjoying a day on the water!
The snow is finally melting and that means one thing across New York City: a multitude of great springtime festivals that cater to every interest. As we look for more reasons to spend time outside, there’s no shortage of great events to plan those longer days around. Here are just a few of the offerings at hand for the warmer months ahead.
While NYC’s many art museums are generally open year-round, Frieze New York is a weekend-long festival that offers the chance to see high art while simultaneously enjoying the spring weather, a rare opportunity. While it’s primarily a showcase for collectors and dealers, this tented art fair on Randall’s Island welcomes art lovers of every stripe to enjoy the thousands of works on display. More than a simple market, the Frieze Fair features site-specific and groundbreaking new works. For NYC’s rapidly evolving art scene, nothing less will do.
Stretching all the way from 42nd to 57th Street (Times Square-area to Columbus Circle-area, roughly), this long-running food fest has enough room for the best tastes from around the globe. From French Crepes to Indian Curry to South America Pupusas, New York’s international character perhaps sees its best representation in Ninth Avenue’s bustling yearly fair. If the good isn’t enough to entice you, there are vendors and games to keep you around even after you fill up on the goods.
March 25 – April 8
Nothing says spring like flowers, and nothing says NYC like Macy’s, so what better way to celebrate the season by enjoying the best of both? Macy’s isn’t just the host of the annual Thanksgiving Day Parade down 5th Avenue, but their cherished flower show festoons the aisles of their landmark Herald Square location with a spectacular array of fresh flower arrangements from floor to ceiling. This parade-worthy display is only up for two weeks, so hop on the train and pay them a visit-no purchase necessary.
For 5 years running, this celebration has drawn the crowds looking for the most creative takes on breakfast’s favorite cocktail. Featuring live music, food tastings and more, this event promises the best brunch of the spring. This year’s event will host 17 masters of the Mary at Park Slope’s regal Grand Prospect Hall, so feel free to dress in your Sunday best as you sip the finest vodka-and-tomato juice cocktails the city has to offer.
Since the 1870s, New Yorkers have shown off their finest at this Easter celebration where too much decoration is almost never enough. This solemn holiday celebration has morphed over the years into a colorful display of creativity with bonnets with every color and ornamentation imaginable, even with live animals festooning some of the more outlandish designs. Centering (naturally) around St. Patrick’s Cathedral on 5th Avenue and 50th Street, the festival is just part of a larger parade that runs up to 57th Street. Even if you can’t make it into Mass, getting to the church is enough to take part in or simply witness the festivities.
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.