photo exhibition on nyc sanitation workers


From today’s New York Times:

Rare Portrait of the People Who Keep the City Clean

a brief writeup on a photo exhibition of sanitation workers opening this weekend in Noho.


1 Comment»

  jennykane324 wrote @

This exhibit is great – amazing stories and photographs from this 2yr in the making project. What comes through clearly is how much both the writer and photographer like and respect the ‘san-men’ and are committed to getting their stories into the public view.

I’ve always felt that the NYDS wasn’t properly acknowledged for it’s role after 9/11. The department faced the overwhelmingly massive task of clearing and cleaning the streets and neighborhood after the disaster and transporting all the remains to Fresh Kills. The rescue/recovery operation initially had staging areas from the river to Broadway and south of Canal St. and the dept. was pressured by Guiliani (who claimed that the air quality and the area were safe – they weren’t) to work fast so that the streets around the WTC could be re-opened.
(I volunteered at Ground Zero with other film people to run generators and set up lights for rescue work, staging, red cross stations, food areas, etc. There was initially no power down there and the streets and building were dark; the big musco stadium lights lit up some of the areas but we brought lights and power into the areas they couldn’t reach.)
In the early days before proper masks were readily available (the way it seemed was that masks were one place, canisters another and hard hats somewhere else, and you walked through layers of debris trying to get anywhere) the ‘san men’ were there, 24hrs a day, often working only with brooms and barrels. It was the Sanitation department that set up (I think after a week or so??) the spraying stations so that all vehicles were cleaned before leaving the area and you could wash your boots. (There was the awful feeling that you were walking in a giant cemetery, the ashes mixed with the debris and clinging to your boots.)


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