Brief

DSNY helps protect Times Square NYE celebration — then cleans up after it

Dive Brief:

  • In addition to performing its annual duty of cleaning up after the New Year's Eve celebration in Times Square, New York's Department of Sanitation also helped protect the estimated one million people that attended it. For the first time at this event, the agency provided 65 sand-filled trucks to act as protective barriers, as reported by NY1 News.
  • Cleanup operations began shortly after the ball dropped and DSNY crews worked into the morning. According to the department there were 235 sanitation workers, 45 officers and two deputy chiefs on hand for the task. 
  • In order to get the square clean by 7 a.m. they used 27 mechanical brooms, 39 collection trucks, 60 back pack/walk behind blowers, 54 hand brooms and other assorted street cleaning equipment. DSNY workers collected 47.25 tons of debris. This was up from 44.34 tons in 2016, though still below the 48 tons collected in 2015.

Dive Insight:

New York's Strongest began playing an added security role last year by deploying sand-filled trucks along the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade route and outside Trump Tower starting on Election Day. When filled with sand each truck weighs about 30 tons and is meant to serve as a deterrent for anyone inspired by the deadly terrorist attacks in Nice, France or Berlin.

DSNY crews clean up after numerous parades and events throughout the year, but aside from the occasional home team victory parade, the New Year's Eve celebration is usually their biggest task. Crews must contend with confetti, hats, party favors, bottles and many other forms of litter among crowds that are slow to disperse and staging that takes time to dismantle. 

As described in the book "Picking Up" by DSNY's anthropologist-in-residence Robin Nagle, this often involves a multi-pronged approach. Workers push or blow material off the sidewalks for the mechanical brooms to pick up and empty into collection trucks. Gutters must be dug out with hand tools and the process is repeated over multiple hours. The whole operation can be complicated by any type of precipitation which turns confetti into a mash that looks like "oatmeal made with Pepto-Bismol" and makes workers' uniforms "look like Jackson Pollock had been experimenting with them as canvases."

The entire area is expected to be clean before the next shift begins and the daily throng of people fills up the Crossroads of the World once again.

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Filed Under: Collections & Transfer
Top image credit: Anthony Quintano