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Sanitation on the Hudson River Waterfront

OK, let’s face, it, nobody likes to talk about or think about sanitation.

source: nyc.gov

Well, I shouldn’t say “nobody.” I know someone who not only thinks about and talks about sanitation, she is passionate about sanitation. Her name is Dr. Robin Nagle, and she is Anthropologist-in-Residence with the New York City Department of Sanitation. (It’s a volunteer position; she is not on the city payroll.)

This unique item on her résumé has put Robin in the position to point out to us that, while we may not care to think about sanitation, we should. Without the work of the NYC Department of Sanitation, this city would grind to a halt. A messy, smelly, garbage-filled halt. Oh, and don’t forget, these are also the people who plow and remove the snow, too.

Robin’s book, Picking Up: On the Streets and Behind the Trucks With the Sanitation Workers of New York City is a revealing look at the day-to-day operations of this dangerous but necessary occupation. Last July, she presented a program for GVSHP about the history of sanitation, with a focus on Greenwich Village. And in January she returned with a look at the history of snow removal. Robin has an amazing collection of historic images that she shared with us.

Did you know that one of the results of the famous “Blizzard of ‘88” was that the city of New York moved all utility cables (phone, electricity, etc.) underground?

source: Museum of the City of New York

This Thursday evening, Robin will present her third program for GVSHP about the long history of the Greenwich Village Hudson River waterfront and sanitation. Currently there is a very busy sanitation facility on the Gansevoort Peninsula, aka Pier 53, which happens to be surrounded by the Hudson River Park. A lot of things have changed about the Hudson River waterfront in Greenwich Village over the years – even in very recent years – and they will continue to change. Robin will give us a detailed look at the history and the current state of affairs, and talk about some possibilities for the future.

If you would like to attend this program, please rsvp, and we’ll save some lemonade for you.


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