So Clean You Could Eat Off Them: What Goes Into Clean Streets? [Infographic]

Since the advent of urban population, sanitation has played an important part in the general health, wellness, and aesthetic appeal of cities. It’s easy to take for granted, so let’s look at how our streets stay clean.

what goes into clean streets?

George Waring, Jr.: The Man with the Sanitation Plan

1878 – A yellow fever outbreak, incorrectly believed to be caused by inadequate sanitation, kills over 10,000 citizens in Memphis, Tennessee.

  • Enter George Waring, Jr.
    • Native of Pound Ridge, New York
    • Agricultural and drainage engineer for New York City’s Central Park since 1857
    • Attained rank of colonel in Union Army during Civil War
  • Waring designs a new system that separates sewage from regular runoff.
  • The new system is implemented throughout the country, and Waring earns a national reputation.

1895 – William Lafayette Strong (mayor of New York City) appoints Waring as commissioner for the Department of Street Cleaning. Waring’s work eventually leads to modern systems of:

  • Cleaning city streets
  • Collecting and sorting garbage
  • Recycling

The Modern Unsung Heroes

Garbage Collector – Collects trash and moves it to the dump, landfill, or other disposal area.

  • Participates in emergency response and cleanup
  • Plows and salts snowy streets
  • Removes downed tree limbs
  • Hauls debris

Garbage collection is a dangerous job. Workers are subject to:

  • Car accidents
  • Toxic chemicals
  • Cuts from rusted metal
  • Objects shooting out of truck compactors

Street Cleaner – Operates a street sweeper truck designed to scrub streets, place dirt and debris in a pile, and suck the dirt into a receptacle for proper disposal. Street cleaners prevent environmental contamination by picking up:

  • Trash
  • Dirt
  • Chemicals
  • Motor oil
  • De-icing solution

Sewage Drain Cleaner – Cleans storm drains using a powerful vacuum attached to a truck, preventing trash, debris, and filth from clogging sewers and polluting beaches and oceans. Sewer Inspector – Inspects sewer tunnels to find cracks, clogs, and other structural issues, keeping water sources and streets clean.

Reasons to Keep Cities Clean

Keeping cities clean:

  • Promotes tourism, increasing the city’s economy
  • Encourages good health
  • Preserves the environment
  • Attracts new businesses
  • Opens up new employment opportunities
  • Allows for more space

Cleanliness is a community effort. You can do your part by:

  • Disposing of trash in appropriate receptacles
  • Recycling
  • Setting up a home compost bin
  • Finding alternate means of travel

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