The Sanitation Worker Closet, Ctd

In a review of Robin Nagle’s book on sanitation workers, Lawrence Biemiller praises the work’s historical perspective:

A Civil War-era report found that more than 3,200 cases of smallpox and well over 2,000 cases of typhus a year—many of them fatal—could have been prevented by better sanitation, but it wasn’t until 1881 that the Department of Street Cleaning was organized. Fifteen more years passed before an election ousted the last of the corrupt Tammany Hall politicians and brought a new sanitation commissioner, Col. George E. Waring Jr., who drew on his Civil War experience to establish what Ms. Nagle calls “a military-style order.”

Within a matter of months, Waring succeeded in ridding New York’s streets of ash, manure, trash, and myriad other kinds of filth, and the department has never looked back—unless you count occasional strikes, which serve to remind New Yorkers what a mess the city would be without DSNY. On an average day, the department’s 7,400 uniformed employees and 1,800 civilians are responsible for collecting some 11,000 tons of household garbage and 2,000 tons of home recycling, in addition to emptying litter baskets and sweeping many of the city’s 6,000 miles of streets.

Earlier Dish on Nagle’s book here and here.