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Full text of "Street-cleaning and the disposal of a city's wastes: methods and results and the effect upon public health, public morals, and municipal property"

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From the collection of the 


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San Francisco, California 










Copyright, 1897, by 








I. HISTORY . . . .\ , . . . . . 1 






V. STREET-SWEEPING . . . . . . . 37 

VI. CARTING . . ....... . . 43 





By Major H. C. Gushing, Assistant Superintendent. 

XI. THE REMOVAL OF SNOW . .... . 91 

By H. L. Stidham, Snow-inspector. 





By David Willard, D. S. C., Supervisor. 

XV. CONCLUSION -. . . . . . .187 

APPENDIX . ... . . ~; ... . 193 

INDEX. ....... . . * . 225 




THE ANNUAL PARADE . ... ). . . . 3 
IN FRONT OF No. 9 VARICK PLACE, MARCH 17, 1893 between pp. 6, 7 
THE SAME STREET, MAY 29, 1895 . . . . between pp. 6, 7 

BLEECKER STREET, MARCH 17, 1893 . . . between pp. 8, 9 
THE SAME STREET, MAY 29, 1895 . ; . > between pp. 8, 9 
A SECTION FOREMAN . . ... . . . 39 

SWEEPERS' TOOLS . .... . . . . . 41 


WITH FORKS . . . . . .. . . . 69 


"CINDERELLA" ..... ~ .. . . . 71 

LOADING A Scow WITH REFUSE . . .... 75 







UP to 1881 the cleaning of the streets of New York 
was under the charge of a bureau of the Police 
Department. There is little to be found in the 
city's records as to the manner in which the work was 
done, but it was evidently very unsatisfactory to the 

In 1881 the Department of Street-Cleaning was created 
by law, and Mr. James S. Coleman was made the first 
commissioner, being appointed by the mayor, with the 
approval of the Board of Health. He held the office for 
nearly nine years. In 1882 he let out the cleaning of 
the streets south of Fourteenth Street to contractors, 
doing the work north of that street with his own forces. 
The contract system was continued through nearly his 
whole term. He said : 

" Broadway below Fourteenth Street is not included in 
the contractors' districts. Nominally it is cleaned partly 
by the city and partly by the Broadway and Seventh 
Avenue Railroad Company, the charter of the latter 
obliging it to clean that portion of the roadway which 




lies between the car-tracks and within two feet of them 
on either side; the Department of Street-Cleaning has 
charge of the remainder. As a matter of fact, however, 
the whole work is done under a special agreement 
whereby the possibly conflicting and complicated double 
work by the railroad company and the department is 
avoided." This contract is still maintained. 

In Mr. Coleman's report of 1889 he speaks of numerous 
aggravating impediments to good work, many of which 
still exist. Laws and ordinances seemed to have had no 
effect on the people. Mr. Coleman says: "A good deal 
of time might be employed in the enumeration of cul 
pable acts and shameful delinquencies on the part of the 
merchants and householders. It has frequently happened 
that the street-sweeping machine has passed down the 
street, and before it has reached the nearest corner men 
and women have been seen deliberately emptying recep 
tacles full of refuse and rubbish from their shops or 
residences upon the pavements just swept. Handbills 
and other printed matter distributed to pedestrians were 
thrown on the sidewalk or street. . . . Such things were 
not done, perhaps, because the offenders had resolved 
to be blameworthy and contemptuous, but because they 
were imbued with the spirit of indifference to the public 
welfare and had long been accustomed to do such things 
without fear of the law." He estimated that there were 
" close to fifty thousand " vehicles in the streets, while 
the law regulating the deposit of building-material and 
rubbish was notoriously disregarded. Gutters were ob 
structed by such material, stopping flowage and causing 
pools of stagnant water to stand on the street. 

Mr. Horace Loomis held the office of commissioner 
from January 17, 1890, until April 4 of the same year, 



when Mr. Hans S. Beattie was appointed. He was suc 
ceeded by Mr. Thomas S. Brennan, September 17, 1891. 

In 1892 the department was entirely reorganized, as 
the result of a careful investigation of the whole subject 
made by a committee appointed by Mayor Grant. Mr. 
Brennan was reappointed under this law. He was suc 
ceeded by Mr. William S. Andrews, July 21, 1893, and he 
by the writer, January 15, 1895. 

The report of Mayor Grant's committee is very full 
and instructive. It shows practically that the depart 
ment was not efficiently managed, and gives ample details 
as to its defects. The committee reached the following 
general conclusion: " With good labor, skilfully organized 
and properly superintended, the streets can unques 
tionably be kept clean. With labor employed on the 
present methods, no organization, however skilful, and 
no superintendence, however faithful, can produce en 
tirely satisfactory results." 

After reciting the laws and ordinances, the committee 
expressed its opinion that New York should be one of 
the cleanest cities in the world. " Practically it is one 
of the dirtiest, because they are so habitually violated 
and so feebly enforced as to become dead letters." 

Concerning the cost of the work it is said that " this 
sum of more than a million and a quarter of dollars, 
however, by no means represents the total amount ex 
pended for street-cleaning and removing refuse. It is 
well known that many householders, in order to secure 
clean streets in front of their premises, employ private 
street-cleaners; others employ private ashmen to take 
their ash-barrels from within the gate under the stoop, 
so as to avoid putting the ashes out in front of the 
house; and still others fee the public ashman to perform 


this service a practice which, it is stated, makes the 
position of ashman on certain routes much sought after." 

This committee set forth with emphasis the serious 
objections to the universal practice of standing trucks 
in the streets. 

It also conducted an experiment in the sweeping of a 
certain district by the " block system." This portion of 
its report is worthy of very careful consideration, be 
cause it resulted in the adoption of the system now in 

The reports of Commissioner Coleman and of Mayor 
Grant's committee are copiously quoted in the Appendix, 
and those readers who are interested in anything like a 
careful study of the subject will find reference thereto 
most important. 

The more recent history of the department and its 
operations relates to the conditions existing immediately 
prior to the inauguration of Mayor Strong and to what 
it has since done. This is given in the following chap 
ters relating to specific branches of the subject. 



HAVING thus stated the prominent historical facts 
in connection with the Department of Street- 
Cleaning of New York, attention will now be 
given to the conditions which obtained under the ad 
ministration of the new law of 1892, this being during 
the last fourteen months of the administration of Com 
missioner Brennan and all of that of Commissioner 
Andrews, or from May 9, 1892, to January 15, 1895, 
when the control of the work fell to me.' 

The very unsatisfactory condition of the streets, and 
the demoralization of the department at that time, were, 
and still are, matters of notoriety. The character and 
the causes of this condition are sufficiently shown in the 
preceding chapter. 

The kernel of it all lies in the fact, especially set forth 
by Commissioner Beattie, that men were not employed 
for work in the Department of Street-Cleaning because 
they were suitable for the work, but because their ap 
pointment was urged by politicians and for political 





The necessary result of such a state of affairs appeared 
very fully in the illustrated description of the condition 
of the streets, and of the degree of their encumbrance 
and their neglect, made by a committee of the City Club, 
with a view to securing the removal of Commissioner 
Brennan for neglect of duty. 

A large number of photographs were taken, showing 
the condition of the streets in March, 1893, and affidavits 
were published, describing the manner in which the work 
of street-cleaning was done and neglected. 

Two of these are reproduced here, in contrast with pho 
tographs of the identical spots taken the end of May, 1895. 

Such illustrative contrasts might be duplicated for 
the entire collection of the City Club, for every block in 
New York is now as clean as those shown here. The condi 
tion of the streets as photographed in 1893 was further 
set forth in the accompanying affidavits, which testify 
to the inefficiency of the department at that time. 
These affidavits are very voluminous, and they relate to 
some hundreds of different points. 

The photographs were taken at a time when the 
snow and ice had not entirely melted, and due allowance 
is to be made for this. 

The following are some of the descriptions set forth 
in the affidavits: 

" Opposite No. 379 [East Fourth Street] there was about 
a ton of ashes, garbage, old cloth, tin cans, and five old 
barrels. ... In front of Nos. 344 and 346 there were 
seven barrels, refuse overflowing all over the sidewalks. 
. . . The general condition of this street was bad. I 
have enumerated the most filthy places; but all along 
the street it has the appearance of being the dumping- 
ground of the whole ward. 


"This street [Pitt Street] was also very dirty; mud, 
ashes, filth, and garbage lay all over it to the depth of 
about eight inches. 

" On Ludlow Street, from the corner of Stanton, the 
street is very filthy. Trucks, wagons, and carts were 
standing in filth of every kind from one to two feet deep, 
and the street was covered with old paper, rags, ashes, 
garbage, straw, and general refuse. 

" On the west side of Thompson Street, from Houston 
Street north, were piles of snow, ice, mud, garbage, ard 
general filth, from three to four feet high, on which 
trucks and wagons were piled. Opposite nearly every 
door there were overflowing barrels of refuse. On 
Sullivan Street, from Houston to Bleecker, barrels of 
ashes and garbage were in front of nearly every door; 
and along the side of the street piles of garbage, old 
rags, tins, oyster-shells, old paper, and general refuse, 
from two to four feet high, from which a bad stench 

" On Bedford Street, in front of No. 139, were two 
barrels of refuse on the sidewalk, and about three barrels 
more dumped around them. . . . This street was dirty all 
along. I have specified the worst places only. 

"A man named Calder, of 688 Washington Street, 
volunteered the information that the ashman had not 
been there for six weeks. 

" The whole block [in Greenwich Street] was in as 
bad a condition throughout, and twenty-one trucks were 
stationed upon it. In No. 395 a woman informed me 
that ashes had only been taken away twice in two weeks. 
The box in front of this house has the refuse of four 
houses dumped into it, and she said it should be emptied 
at least three times a week to keep the refuse from being 

MARCH 17, 1893. 



scattered over the walk. At this time a heap of ashes 
lay in front of the house on the street. 

" There was a pile of garbage in front of Van Holten 
& Bay's store at 500 Ninth Avenue. A clerk in the store 
said that people had to dump the garbage in the gutters, 
because the carts of the Street-Cleaning Department did 
not take it away. He could not remember the last time 
the block was cleaned." 

I remember, as a characteristic incident, that a few 
days after my appointment I drove down-town with my 
wife, and passed through Elizabeth Street, which was no 
worse than most other obscure streets of the city. She 
begged me to resign at once and go back to Newport, 
saying, "It is utterly hopeless. You surely can never 
clean Elizabeth Street; you will only disgrace yourself 
by trying to do it." This street was lined on both sides 
at midday with unharnessed trucks; the sidewalks were 
thick with overflowing ash and garbage receptacles; black 
mud was several inches deep in the street, and the side 
walks themselves were slimy with the filth tracked on to 
them from the crossings. The people had a squalid and 
hopeless air, and the outlook was certainly very dis 
couraging. The same condition prevailed throughout 
the more densely peopled quarters, and even in the 
relatively quiet and respectable streets running from 
Bleecker Street toward the North River there was little 
evidence that systematic cleaning had been carried on 
for a long time. 

I have no knowledge of the methods prevailing under 
the predecessors of Commissioner Andrews; but I do 
know that he had done the best that he could, under his 
limitations, to improve the situation. The department 
still feels, and always will feel ? the influence of his in- 


telligence and zeal in the theoretical part of his work. 
He secured the passage of several amendments to the 
law organizing the department which are of the greatest 
value amendments which could be obtained now only 
by an influential Republican politician, and without which 
good work would be almost impossible. 

He told me during my tutelage many things confirma 
tory of what is said in the following chapter as to the 
effect of political control. He had been promised abso 
lute independence in the matter of appointments and 
dismissals. He very early found it necessary to dismiss 
an important member of the clerical force, whose habits 
made him practically worthless. He immediately felt 
the weight of a higher authority, and was told, " So-and- 
so is my man; you must take him back." He did take 
him back, and he took a back seat from that time for 
ward. I have recently been told by a stable foreman, 
who is a "hold-over from Tammany times," and who is a 
most excellent and efficient officer, that it was absolutely 
impossible to get work properly done under the old re 
gime. For example, a man had been sent to him to be 
put " on the floor," meaning that he was to be used as a 
general utility man about the stable. The foreman found 
him inefficient, and told him he must go to work. The 
man replied, "I did n't come here to work." He was 
reported at once for dismissal, and was suspended. He 
returned the next day, reinstated and irremovable. 

I could give a hundred instances of similar cases, but 
the above are sufficient. Reasoning backward, one could 
now reconstruct, by restoring the former methods, the 
same horrible condition of the streets that then existed. 
That condition was a natural consequence of the stultify 
ing of the efforts of any commissioner by the superior 


power of ward politicians and their superiors. The 
streets of the city are now measurably clean cleaner 
than they have ever been before; but if the hands of the 
commissioner and his staff were tied by the absolute 
destruction of discipline which political control must give, 
they would relapse into their former condition within 
three months. 

The records show that at the end of Commissioner 
Andrews's term the uniformed force consisted of the 
following: 1 general superintendent, 1 assistant superin 
tendent, 11 district superintendents, 58 foremen, 1275 
sweepers, 908 drivers. As to the plant, there were 684 
horses, 619 carts and trucks, 87 sprinkling-wagons, and 
76 sweeping-machines. 



THE tendency to ascribe former defects of the 
Department of Street-Cleaning in New York City 
to one political party, as such, seems to me not 
to be fair. I had this prevailing tendency myself when 
I first took office; but experience has taught me that it 
was a question, not of party, but of politics. I have no 
reason now to suppose that matters would have been 
in any wise better had the other party been in control of 
the city government. Whatever may be the differences 
of their members in avocation or in attainments, when 
it is a question of the government of the city by the 
spoilsmen for the party, there is nothing to choose be 
tween political organizations. 

I am, to this extent, no more an anti-Tammany man 
than I should be an anti-Republican man if Republicans 
had brought about the same defects had their party been 
in power. In describing the former condition of the 
streets and of the department, I am making no criticism 



of Tammany Hall, only of politics as the ruling factor in 
city government. The improved present condition could 
not have been brought about without an absolute disre 
gard of all political considerations in the management of 
the business. My work has succeeded because it has 
been done for its own sake alone. The same success 
awaits any competent man who will manage any other of 
the city departments on the same principle. 

If the whole city is ever so managed the people will be 

Whatever the cause, no one will now question that the 
former condition of the streets was bad very bad. No 
one can question the truth of the following description: 

Before 1895 the streets were almost universally in a 
filthy state. In wet weather they were covered with 
slime, and in dry weather the air was filled with dust. 
Artificial sprinkling in summer converted the dust into 
mud, and the drying winds changed the mud to powder. 
Rubbish of all kinds, garbage, and ashes lay neglected 
in the streets, and in the hot weather the city stank with 
the emanations of putrefying organic matter. It was 
not always possible to see the pavement, because of the 
dirt that covered it. One expert, a former contractor 
of street-cleaning, told me that West Broadway could 
not be cleaned, because it was so coated with grease 
from wagon-axles; it was really coated with slimy mud. 
The sewer inlets were clogged with refuse. Dirty paper 
was prevalent everywhere, and black rottenness was seen 
and smelled on every hand. 

The practice of standing unharnessed trucks and 
wagons in the public streets was well-nigh universal in 
all except the main thoroughfares and the better resi 
dence districts. The Board of Health made an enumera- 


tion of vehicles so standing on Sunday, counting twenty- 
five thousand on a portion of one side of the city; they 
reached the conclusion that there were in all more than 
sixty thousand. These trucks not only restricted traffic 
and made complete street-cleaning practically impossible, 
but they were harbors of vice and crime. Thieves and 
highwaymen made them their dens, toughs caroused in 
them, both sexes resorted to them, and they were used 
for the vilest purposes, until they became, both figura 
tively and literally, a stench in the nostrils of the people. 
In the crowded districts they were a veritable nocturnal 
hell. Against all this the poor people were powerless to 
get relief. The highest city officials, after feeble at 
tempts at removal, declared that New York was so 
peculiarly constructed (having no alleys through which 
the rear of the lots could be reached) that its commerce 
could not be carried on unless this privilege were given 
to its truckmen; in short, the removal of the trucks was 
" an impossibility." 

There was also some peculiarity about New York which 
made it inevitable that it should have dirty streets. 
Other towns might be clean, but not this one. Such 
civic pride as existed had to admit these two unfortunate 

The average annual death-rate from 1882 to 1894, in 
clusive, was 25.78 per thousand persons living equal to 
more than fifty thousand deaths in the year on the basis 
of the present population. Eye and throat diseases due 
to dust, and especially to putrid dust, were rife. No 
effort was made to remove snow for the comfort of the 
people, only for the convenience of traffic. But little 
more than twenty miles of streets were cleared after a 


snow-storm. As a result, the people, especially the 
poorer people who could not change their wet clothing 
and could not buy rubber shoes, suffered to an alarming 
degree from colds and their results. 

The department itself was such as its work would in 
dicate. Like all large bodies of men engaged in any 
stated duty, its force had much good material, but it was 
mainly material gone to waste for lack of proper control. 
It was hardly an organization; there was no spirit in it; 
few of its members felt secure in their positions; no 
sweeper who was not an unusually powerful political 
worker knew at what moment the politician who had 
got him his place would have him turned out to make 
room for another. A ledger account of patronage was 
kept with each Assemb n y district, and district leaders 
are even said to have had practically full control of the 
debit and credit columns, so that they could deposit a 
dismissal and check out an appointment at will. Useful 
service can be had from no force thus controlled. 

Nearly every man in the department was assessed for 
the political fund. I have seen an order, signed by one 
of my predecessors, practically directing every sweeper 
and driver to pay to the chief clerk a certain percentage 
of each week's pay. This was to be used for " political " 
purposes how or by whom or for whom was not stated. 
The working-men of the force generally were in a miser 
able condition; they were the objects of ridicule and 
scorn, and they knew it. They did such work as they 
were compelled to do, and, as a rule, they did no more. 
Nominally, they wore a uniform, but they were not dis 
tinguished by it. The district superintendents and 
foremen, as a rule, either could not exercise effective 


control over their men, or they did not take the trouble 
to do so. Nothing was done with a will ; the organiza 
tion, as a whole, was a slouch. 

The stock and plant were what they might have been 
expected to be under these conditions. In some of the 
stables there was not even an extra set of cart-harness, 
and some that were in use were mended by the drivers, 
on the streets, with bits of wire and string. Disorder 
and demoralization were the rule. 

This is a severe condemnation of a department that 
spent $2,366,419.49 in a year (in 1894), as against $2,776,- 
749.31 in 1896, and did ineffective work with it; but it is 
just. The condition of the streets, of the force, and of 
the stock was the fault of no man and of no set of men. 
It was the fault of the system. The department was 
throttled by partizan control so throttled it could 
neither do good work, command its own respect and that 
of the public, nor maintain its material in good order. 
It was run as an adjunct of a political organization. In 
that capacity it was a marked success. It paid fat trib 
ute; it fed thousands of voters, and it gave power and 
influence to hundreds of political leaders. It had this 
appointed function, and it performed it well. 

When I took charge of the department I found the 
district superintendents and foremen more or less uni 
formed. Few, if any, of them wore the complete uni 
form, and still fewer had a promising look. They seemed 
to be an easy-going, happy-go-lucky set of men, who had 
made up their minds that it was not possible to improve 
the state of affairs, and who had learned to make the 
best of the situation. The sweepers wore a sort of 
brownish suit, save when they found it more convenient 
to wear something else, and, pretty generally, grayish- 


brown caps with the letters " D. S. C." on the front. 
They kept their tools at home, in cellars under saloons, 
in yards behind corner groceries, in livery stables, or 
wherever else they could get permission to store them. 
Their roll-calls were at the street-corner or on the gut 
ter. They had no habitation, and they seemed hardly 
fit to have a name. 

Commissioner Andrews had inaugurated a system of 
section stations, by which the men of each two sections 
adjoining would have a place of meeting and storage- 
room for their tools in a room of their own; but this 
custom had by no means become general at the time 
when he left office. The stables were ill kept and dis 
orderly, and were largely the resort of friendly idlers of 
the neighborhood. 

It is hardly necessary to extend this description. The 
only thing that could be said in favor of it was that it was 
quite uniform in its lack of uniformity. There was little 
evidence of a controlling central authority. 

As I have since had ample occasion to learn, very 
many of the officers, and of the men as well, were first- 
rate material, who needed only proper guiding to become 
effective. In fact, it is not too much to say that the 
best of the workmen and some of the best of the officers 
of to-day were among those described above. 

There seems to have been no effort made to restrain 
the tendency for drink, which was conspicuous, especially 
among the drivers. Dismissals in the working-force for 
gross drunkenness were, of course, frequent; but a man 
could safely drink pretty steadily throughout the day 
without endangering his position. The neighborhood of 
the various dumps to which the drivers take their loads 
of refuse used to be specially valuable as sites for the 


liquor traffic. One owner tells me that in 1894 opposite 
one of the dumps he had four saloon-keeper tenants, 
whose rents ranged from eleven hundred to fifteen hun 
dred dollars per annum. There-is now only one of these 
saloons left open, and that pays a rental of only four 
hundred dollars per annum. 

My early acquaintance with the department was not 
without its amusing incidents. I found, for example, 
that the general superintendent had an unusual capacity 
for handling the roughly organized force employed in the 
removal of snow. He had been reported to me as a 
Tammany captain, and as one of the chief agencies 
through which his political organization had worked the 
department. He was strongly recommended for dis 
missal. Remembering the wise injunction " not to swap 
horses when crossing a stream," I waited until the snow 
season had passed. I then sent for him, and told him 
that he had been represented as a "rank Tammany 
man," etc. 

He said with mild submission, "Whenever you want 
my resignation, it is at your service." I said, " Don't be 
quite so fast; let me hear your version of your case." 
He said, " Do you know what a Tammany man is? It is 
a man who votes for his job. I have been a Tammany 
man, and a faithful one. I have worked for the organi 
zation; I have paid regular contributions to it. But I 
am a Waring man now." He probably saw an unex 
plained smile on my face, for he said, " Don't misunder 
stand me. If Tammany comes into power again I shall 
be a Tammany man again." This frankness met its re 
ward, and I have had the great advantage of Mr. William 
Robbins's active and earnest assistance from that day to 
this, and I trust to have it for many a long day yet. 



I ACCEPTED the commissionership of street-cleaning 
with the positive assurance of Mayor Strong that I 
should not be interfered with in the matter of ap 
pointments and dismissals, and that I should " have my 
own way " generally. His power to dismiss me is un 
limited, and he could get rid of me any day if I did not 
suit him; but so long as I should remain I was to be the 
real head of my department. The mayor has lived up to 
his promise from that day to this. I have sometimes 
been a sore trial to him, especially in my relations with 
certain pensioners and labor leaders, and he has wished 
he might wash his hands of me more than once; but he 
saw reasons for bearing with my conduct until the storm 
blew over. He has never tried to influence me in the 
matter of " patronage," nor has he ever insisted on con 
trolling the policy of my work. If he had done otherwise 
the result would not have been the same. 

At the outset the employees of the department ex 
pected to be turned out, as a matter of course. Their 
positions were spoils which belonged to the victors, and 




they were filled with apprehension as to their future 
bread and butter. They knew the public would not 
longer put up with unclean streets, and that the clean 
sweeping demanded might properly begin with them. 

Knowing that organizations of men are good or bad 
according to the way in which they are handled, that " a 
good colonel makes a good regiment," I paid attention 
first to those at the top to the colonels. I found the 
general superintendent to be an excellent man for his 
duties, while most of the others were from very indiffer 
ent to decidedly bad. These were got rid of. In filling 
their places I sought men mainly with military training 
or with technical education and practice, not one of 
whom had any political alliance which he was not willing 
to sever. They were nearly all young men. 

When the important offices had been filled attention 
was turned to the rank and file of the working-force. 
The men were assured that their future rested solely 
with themselves; that if they did their work faithfully 
and well, kept away from drink, treated citizens civilly, 
and tried to make themselves a credit to the department, 
there was no power in the city that could get them out 
of their places, so long as I stayed in mine. On the 
other hand, if they were drunkards, incompetent, black 
guards, or loafers, no power could keep them in. When 
they found that I really meant what I said and it took 
them some time to get such a strange new idea into their 
heads they took on a new heart of hope, and turned 
their eyes to the front. From that day their improve 
ment has been constant and most satisfactory. Their 
white uniforms, once so derided, have been a great help 
to them, and they know it; and the recognition of the 
people has done still more for them. Indeed, the parade 


of 1896 marked an era in their history. It introduced 
them to the prime favor of a public by which, one short 
year before, they had been contemned ; and the public saw 
that these men were proud of their positions, were self- 
respecting, and were the object of pride on the part of 
their friends and relatives who clustered along their line 
of march. 

What has really been done has been to put a man in 
stead of a voter at the other end of the broom-handle. 
The " White Wings " are by no means white angels, but 
they are a splendid body of men, a body on which the 
people of New York can depend for any needed service, 
without regard to hours or personal comfort. A trusted 
sweeper, for example, will stand on a windy dock-log all 
night long, and night after night, protecting the city 
against the wiles and tricks of the snow-carters. He 
gets no extra pay for this, but his extra service and his 
hardship are compensated by the consciousness that he 
is doing good work, that his good work is appreciated by 
his officers, and that the force to which he belongs is 
winning public favor partly because of what he himself 
is doing. In other words, the whole department is 
actuated by a real esprit de corps, without which no 
organization of men can do its best, either in war or in 

The discipline is rigid and uniform. It is regulated 
and enforced according to these rules, which are posted 
in all section stations and stables: 

The following abstract of the offenses of drivers and sweepers in the de 
partment, and the penalties prescribed therefor, is published for the infor 
mation and guidance of all concemed. Hereafter any offense will be reported 
(on the prescribed form and in the existing manner, through the stable fore 
man in the case of drivers, and through the section foreman, approved by the 
district superintendent, in the case of sweepers) as a first, second, third, or 


fourth violation of Rule , and the recommendation for punishment must 

not exceed the code of penalties. 

When the prescribed penalty is dismissal, the offender may be suspended 
without pay, awaiting the action of the commissioner. A fourth violation of 
rules, of whatever character, will indicate that the man is incorrigible, and he 
may be dismissed. 

Except in the case of men recommended for dismissal, there will be no 
suspensions. The punishment will be forfeiture of pay, and men who refuse 
to work while subject to such forfeiture will be at once dismissed. 

This order will be posted on the bulletin boards at stables and section 
stations, and every employee of the department will be assumed to under 
stand it. 

Explanation : " D " means dismissal. 1, 2, 3, 5, and 10 mean the forfeiture 
of so many days' pay. 



1st 2d 3d 

1. Absence for more than five days without authority 

of the commissioner ....... D 

2. Failure to report or send notice to foreman when sick 1 3D 

3. Absence from roll-call at proper hour ... 1 23 

4. Failure to return to stable or section station prompt 

ly after work is over and reporting time to stable 

foreman, section foreman, or clerk . . . .2 3 5 

5. Failure to provide himself with the prescribed uni 

form, oilskin suits, sweater, and badge after rea 
sonable time D 

6. Failure to wear prescribed uniform and badge while 

on duty in the manner directed by orders . . 3 D 

7. Neglect to keep uniform and cap in neat condition 1 23 

8. Failure to keep horse, harness, cart, machine, etc., 

in good order, and failing to report injury to them 

to foreman at once .....".. 1 35 

9. Driving, using, or interfering with any horse, cart, 

harness, machine, etc., not assigned to him by 

proper authority, without good reason ... 1 35 

10. Neglecting or abusing a horse, whipping or striking 

a horse, using a horse which is sick or lame, and fail 
ing to take such horse to stable or reporting him 
to foreman D 

11. Neglecting to adjust harness properly while at work 1 35 

12. Neglecting to have lost shoes replaced on horse at 

nearest department stable as soon as practicable .1 35 

13. Leaving cart, etc., and horse unattended in street 

without good reason . . . . . .1 3 5 

14. Failure to feed horse properly during swing . . D 

15. Failure to water horse properly during work hours . D 

16. Failure to remove bits and to dump carts while feed 

ing at noon 5 D 

17. Deliberately trotting or galloping a horse ... 5 10 D 

18. Failure properly to care for horse, harness, cart, etc., 

before leaving stable after return from work . D 

19. Loitering at work . . " . , , -.%. , .2 5 D 




| 1st 2d 3d 4th 

20. Failure to clean up his route or area of streets as 

signed, properly, by reason of neglect or loafing .3 5 D 

21. Failure or refusal to obey orders of superiors . . D 

22. Having a helper or conductor with him without au 

thority D 

23. Sorting over or picking over refuse or permitting 

others so to do D 

24. Neglecting to pick up and remove small stones found 

on route, and failing to report large ones or other 
obstructions lying in the street, ~such as gutter- 
planks, etc., to section foreman .... 1 3 5 D 

25. Taking up anything but ashes, garbage, and street- 

sweepings, except where they are mixed in small 

quantities in a receptacle or ash-barrel ... 2 5 D 

26. Removing the contents of more than one receptacle 

so mixed, from one place, and neglecting to report 

such condition to section foreman .... 2 5 D 

27. Mixing ashes and garbage together in districts where 

it is forbidden 5 D 

28. Neglecting to report to district superintendents, sta 

ble foremen, or section foremen, where suitable 
receptacles are not provided, where they are im 
properly filled, and where refuse is spilled on side 
walks or streets . . . . . . .3 5 D 

29. Neglecting to keep load covered and allowing it to 

blow or spill on street . . . . . .3 D 

30. Failing to have cart number exposed . . .3 5 D 

31. Failing to provide himself with the proper imple 

ments to perform the work assigned him . 1 3 5 D 

32. Accepting or demanding a fee or gratuity for work 

done D 

33. Entering a liquor saloon during work hours . . 3 D 

34. Being under the influence of liquor while on duty . D 

35. Using abusive or threatening language to a superior D 

36. Failing to turn over his dump ticket at end of day's 

work to foreman or clerk at stable .... 3 D 

37. Failure to report promptly defects in brooms or 

mechanism of machines to foreman ... 1 3 5 D 

38. Neglect of driver or sweeper to water street properly 

to lay the dust 3 5 D 

39. Using machine before street is sprinkled . . . D 

40. Neglect to close hydrant after use . . . .2 5 D 

41. Failing to report change of residence to foreman . 5 10 D 

42. Removing improper material . . . . . 5 10 D 

43. Being boisterous or using profane language or any 

incivility to citizens 13 5 D 

44. Failure to keep gutters and culverts clear and clean 1 2 3 D 

45. Failure to keep dirt-piles at the regulation distance 

from the curbstone 1 2 3 D 

46. Failure to sweep properly . ... . , : .1 2 3 D 

47. Failure to take proper care of department propeity 2 3 5 D 

48. Absence from post of duty without reasonable ex 

cuse .23 5 D 




1st 2d 3d 4th 

49. Failure to clean up any dirt, ashes, or garbage left 

or spilled upon the street or sidewalk by any de 
partment driver or drivers; or failure to report 
the facts to the foreman on same day, giving name 
or names and badge number or numbers of the 
driver or drivers, if known, with the exact place 
and time, as near as possible, at which such ashes 
or garbage was spilled or left upon the street or 
sidewalk 1 3 5 D 

50. Failure to replace receptacles within the stoop or area 

line after emptying the contents of same into cart 1 3 5 D 

During the first year of my administration as commis 
sioner of street-cleaning I found that in the maintenance 
of discipline frequent appeals from my decisions were 
made by the men. These decisions were necessarily 
based mainly on official reports. In order that no em 
ployee should be treated unjustly, I undertook, in the 
beginning, either to give each complainant a hearing 
myself, or to deputize some other official to do so for me. 
This occupied so much time as to interfere with the regu 
lar department business, and was not always satisfactory 
to the men themselves. 

After a study of the Belgian method of " arbitration 
and conciliation," and of the experiences in this country 
of the mason builders and the bricklayers, I conceived a 
scheme which would afford the men an ample hearing 
before a competent and unprejudiced committee of their 
own creation. The earlier stages of each investigation 
would be absolutely under the control of this committee, 
and the entire force would be in close touch with its 

The feature of this scheme which requires a prelim 
inary consideration of all questions, whether personal or 
general, by a body constituted entirely of representatives 
of the employees themselves, is, I believe, original. 

Early in January, 1896, I addressed the following 


unofficial communication to the " Employees of the 
Department " : 

In order to establish friendly and useful relations between the men 
in the working-force and the officers of the department, I shall be glad 
to see an organization formed among the men for the discussion of all 
matters of interest. 

This organization will be represented by five spokesmen in a " board 
of conference," in which the commissioner will be represented by the 
general superintendent, the chief clerk, one district superintendent, one 
section foreman, and one stable foreman. 

It is suggested that the men who gather at each section station and 
the men at each stable (with the boardmen from the nearest dumps) 
each elect one of their number to represent them in a general commit 
tee of forty-one (thirty-two from section stations and nine from stables), 
and that this general committee elect the five spokesmen by whom it is 
to be represented in the Board of Conference. 

The general committee will meet in a room, to be provided for it, 
at 2 P. M. on every Thursday, except the third Thursday of each month. 
The members will not have their time docked for this. Their meetings 
will be secret, and they will be expected to discuss with perfect free 
dom everything connected with their work, their relations with the 
commissioner and his subordinates, and all questions of discipline, 
duties, pay, etc., in which they are interested, or which their sections, 
stables, and dumps may have submitted to them. 

The Board of Conference will meet at 2 P. M. on the third Thursday 
of each month, or as near to this date as the exigencies of the work 
will allow. 

The ten members of the Board of Conference will be on a perfect 
equality. It will establish its own organization and rules of procedure, 
and will elect one of its members permanent chairman and another per 
manent secretary, one of these to be chosen from the five officers, and 
another from the five spokesmen. 

It is hoped that this board will be able to settle every question that 
may come up to the satisfaction of all concerned, because most differ 
ences can be adjusted by discussions in which both sides are fairly 

Should any matter arise as to which the board cannot come to a sub 
stantial agreement, the permanent chairman and the permanent 


secretary will argue the case before the commissioner, who will try to 
reach a fair conclusion upon it. 

In conformity with the foregoing call, the sweepers and 
drivers organized the Committee of Forty-one, represen 
tatives being chosen entirely by themselves. This com 
mittee, after several meetings, elected from its number 
five men three sweepers and two drivers to represent 
it in the Board of Conference. 

The Board of Conference held its first meeting Febru 
ary 20, 1896. Every appointee was present, and in or 
ganizing the board a sweeper was unanimously chosen as 
permanent chairman, and the chief clerk as permanent 

The following is taken from an account of the opera 
tions of the system, written by the secretary of the Board 
of Conference : 

" From the beginning it was evident that a large num 
ber of the men had a very full appreciation of the purpose 
of the plan. They welcomed it in a manly spirit, and 
entered heartily into every detail of organization. This 
was the more strange in view of the radical change of 
venue, as it were. A large percentage of the men were 
members of, and amenable to, organizations which had 
existed in the department under former administrations, 
and the influence from these sources could not be ex 
pected to cease without an effort on the part of those 
whose success depended upon dissensions which might 
occur, or which they could create, between the commis 
sioner and the men, and who often deceived and misled 
into serious and embarrassing situations those whose 
interests they were supposed to have at heart and to 


"Aside from those identified by membership with 
these organizations, there were many, not members, 
who held a latent sympathy with the old system of set 
tling difficulties by strikes. <In fact, it was generally 
understood that wrongs must be either borne or righted 
by coercion. Arbitration was looked upon as a far-off 
theory, applicable, perhaps, at times, somewhere, and 
under certain conditions; but the idea of its adaptation 
to and adoption by a municipal department of the city of 
New York, and especially by the Department of Street- 
Cleaning, where political preference was the only rule 
they had ever known, had never entered their minds. In 
fact, they were warned by skeptics, both outside of the 
department and among themselves, to ' look out for War 
ing; this is one of his tricks/ That any commissioner of 
street-cleaning, even though he were an ' angel,' should 
honestly intend and honestly endeavor to deal fairly with 
the rank and file of those under him was too much to 
believe. There must, they thought, be some sinister 
motive behind it. 

"Gradually, however, the better element among the 
men did believe in it; and as their faith grew stronger 
the malcontents were either converted or thrust out, and 
slowly but surely the Committee of Forty-one became a 
body of earnest and honest cooperators with the com 
missioner toward the mutual confidence so essential for 
contentment on the part of the men, and without which 
the best results from the combined efforts of the com 
missioner and themselves could not be expected. 

" A very false impression obtains among the public at 
large that the men constituting the membership of the 
department sweepers and drivers are below the average 
in intelligence and acumen. This is not the case. Not 


all of them have enjoyed the advantages of a scholarly 
education (although some of them have), but it would be 
a happy day for this country were the average legislator 
to display the fairness and judgment of these men who 
have been chosen by their respective constituents as 

" Of course, in the beginning, and while the proposed 
plan of arbitration was an unknown quantity to the men, 
and they themselves unknown to each other, dead-wood 
drifted in and disturbing spirits appeared; but, as inti 
mated above, this element was soon* detected and in an 
orderly manner eliminated. 

" The Committee of Forty-one has, since its first meet 
ing, met every Thursday, except the third Thursday in 
each month. Its meetings are held with closed doors, 
and its discussions have, therefore, been free from any 
surveillance or influence, and, as was intended, entirely 
private and unrestrained. 

"Perhaps the best way of explaining the general 
character of the work is to cite illustrating sample cases. 
For instance: 

" Driver A of Stable has been reported by an in 
spector as entering a liquor saloon during working-hours 
and in full uniform, and remaining inside for ten minutes 
this in violation of a very important rule, the penalty 
for the second offense being dismissal. Driver A admits 
entering the door of the saloon, and also admits remain 
ing inside for ten minutes, but has an explanation to 
make as to his reasons for so doing. Argument in all 
such cases cannot be allowed, lest the officers of the de 
partment would have time for little else than to listen 
to lame excuses and bogus explanations. Driver A has 
now, however, another recourse. He calls upon his rep- 


resentative in the Committee of Forty-one and explains 
the matter to him fully, confirming his statement in 
writing. His representative submits the case at the next 
meeting of the committee, and there the plea of A is read 
and discussed by his co-laborers. His explanation is that 
the door which he entered is one of two leading to the 
saloon, but which also leads to a tenement in the rear of 
the saloon, in which he has his home. It appeared from 
his explanation that his wife had been confined recently, 
and that, as his home was on his way to the dump, his 
natural anxiety prompted him to stop for a moment. He 
submitted, in confirmation of his statement, the certifi 
cate of a reliable physician in the neighborhood, in whose 
hands his wife's case was, and, having requested his fore 
man to accompany him to his home, submitted a letter 
from him substantiating his statement. He also pro 
duced letters from both his foreman and his district 
superintendent stating that he was never known to have 
been under the influence of liquor, nor had he ever been 
charged with entering a saloon before. These officials 
said that he was a reliable and careful driver. 

"At its next meeting the committee investigated 
the matter, and after gathering confirmatory testimony 
is persuaded that A's claim is a just one, and there 
fore referred the case to the Board of Conference, with 
such additional light as it had been able to obtain. This 
board is so constituted that no matter what the charac 
ter of the case referred to it by the Committee of Forty- 
one may be, there is always one member representing 
the commissioner qualified by his position and experience 
to judge of its merits. 

"The man has now taken his case two steps toward 
the commissioner, and thus far without the latter's 


knowledge. To facilitate quick adjustment, these mat 
ters are, before being considered by the board, referred 
in an informal way to one of its official members. This 
official brings with him to the meeting the result of his 
informal investigation and copies of the department 
records relating to the case. Thus the board is able to 
consider A's claim impartially, and also to determine its 
truthfulness. After due consideration the matter is re 
ferred to an official in the department having charge of 
such business, with the recommendation that the fine be 

" By the foregoing process a budget of papers relating 
to each case is arranged in chronological order and sub 
mitted to the commissioner, who at a glance can com 
prehend it from beginning to end and quickly decide as 
to its merits. A report of his decision is added to the 
budget, and transmitted by the secretary of the Board 
of Conference to the secretary of the Committee of 
Forty-one, and it, among others, is read to the com 
mittee at its next meeting. In the case in question, 
where the commissioner's decision was in favor of the 
man, the amount forfeited by A was credited to him on 
the next pay-roll. 

" The following case is somewhat different in charac 

" At one of the board meetings a communication was 
received from the Committee of Forty-one calling atten 
tion to an ordinance of the city requiring householders 
to clear snow from the gutters in front of their premises, 
and pointing out the very great saving in expense to the 
city which would result were the ordinance enforced. 
Not only would it be a saving to the city, but it would 
afford quick relief to the public at cross-walks, which 


would otherwise be flooded in wet or thawing weather if 
there were snow on the ground. This matter was care 
fully considered by the board, and referred direct to the 
commissioner, with the suggestion that he request the 
assistance of the Police Department. The commissioner 
thanked the committee for its suggestion, and imme 
diately took the matter up anew, having already con 
ferred with the Police Department on the subject. 

" It might appear at first glance that the machinery, 
as indicated above, is cumbersome and the process slow. 
Such, however, is not the case. The system is so pre 
cisely arranged that when once a case has been started 
it goes along without delay. No case need remain un 
settled for more than thirty days after its submission to 
a representative or to the Committee of Forty-one direct, 
and, as a matter of fact, very many cases are settled by 
the Committee of Forty-one in half that time, or less. 

" The matters referred by the committee to the Board 
of Conference vary in character. They are not all com 
plaints. The board frequently receives suggestions from 
the men as to improvements in the department service, 
or perhaps for some modification or change of a rule. 
A number of these suggestions have been approved and 
adopted, and the service has been benefited thereby. Of 
course there are many cases submitted to the Committee 
of Forty-one which are so trivial that they are thrown 
out of court at once, and never reach even the Board of 
Conference. Occasionally, however, a complaint of this 
character does get through, perhaps inadvertently, and 
reaches the board; but it ends its career there. 

" Of all the cases considered by the Board of Confer 
ence during its first year, there was but one upon which 
t could not agree. On this case the board was divided 


evenly, the representatives of the men on one side, and 
those of the commissioner on the other. This liability 
to a dead-lock had been anticipated in the original call, 
and provided for; accordingly, the chairman and the sec 
retary of the board argued their respective sides of the 
questioji before the commissioner. This case, occurring 
toward the end of the year, was a novelty; and as the 
members of the board were very earnest in their respec 
tive convictions, the matter was watched with much in 
terest, it being considered, as it were, a test case. 

"The commissioner's decision in the matter was in 
favor of the complainant, and the fine which had been 
imposed was remitted. He stated, however, that * tech 
nically, and in accordance with all rules of discipline, the 
fine was a just one, and should be imposed in all similar 
cases. At the same time, I cannot avoid the feeling that 
this violation was made for no improper reason, and per 
haps with a laudable desire to help the service; and, in 
any case, probably the ends of justice and discipline are 
as fully satisfied by the mental anxiety to which the 
driver has been subjected, and the full discussion the 
subject has received in the Committee of Forty-one and 
the Board of Conference, as they would be by the enforce 
ment of the penalty. I therefore direct that the fine be 
remitted.' " 

The following is a brief statistical statement of the 
year's work of the Board of Conference, and relates en 
tirely to cases referred to it by the Committee of Forty- 
one, or matters brought up by the memiers of the board 
representing the men: 

Matters explained satisfactorily at the same meeting at 

which submitted . " ". _ J 15 
Fines remitted or reduced 22 


Fines sustained 13 

Suggestions from employees for the comfort and conve 
nience of the men, or for the betterment of the depart 
ment service, approved and acted upon by the com 
missioner .. . ... . . .24 

Cases considered by the board, but on which it determined 

that no action should be taken . . . .14 

Employees dismissed, reinstated upon satisfactory evidence 

that the dismissals were unmerited .... 8 

Employees dismissed, but, because of unsatisfactory expla 
nations, not reinstated 17 

The total number of cases considered by the board (an 

average of over ten for each meeting) . . .124 

The above is in no way connected with the statistics 
of cases considered or matters discussed at the meetings 
of the Committee of Forty-one. 

During the year the Committee of Forty-one consid 
ered 345 cases, of which 124 were referred to the Board 
of Conference, 221 being settled satisfactorily by itself. 

So far as I have been permitted to judge, the system 
of arbitration as above outlined has appealed to the men 
as a straightforward and perfectly open channel for the 
communication of their grievances, and the officers of the 
department who are in closest relations with the em 
ployees so describe the generally prevailing feeling. In 
the beginning, however, as has been said already, this 
feeling was tinctured with a quite natural suspicion that 
the scheme was a cut-and-dried affair, and that the 
delegates elected would be so subservient to official in 
fluences that their consideration of the various cases 
coming before them would, under the flattery of implied 
power, be merely perfunctory. In other words, it was 
regarded as a sop to stay the growth of that repressed 



bitterness under injustice and injury real or fancied 
which, in the old days, had so often culminated in an 
outbreak that was the only method known to the men of 
asserting themselves, and whose power for causing han 
and suffering to the people of the entire city they so well 

Except from an occasional malcontent, whose dismissal 
is the consequence of some offense so flagrant and ap 
parent that his case receives but scant consideration in 
the Committee of Forty-one, we no longer hear that the 
delegates are the commissioner's men, and not the 
laborers' representatives. Indeed, the men themselves 
realize that the preponderance of leaning, so far, has 
been toward their side, the five officers representing the 
commissioner in the Board of Conference, in their desire 
to be perfectly fair and to avoid even the appearance of 
arbitrariness, preferring to exercise too much leniency 
rather than too little. 

The Committee of Forty-one corresponds in one way 
to any other representative body; but it is a great deal 
more. Each one of its members is elected by a small 
circle of men to every one of whom he is intimately 
known through the association of daily labor performed 
in common. This man must jealously watch and guard 
the interests of his constituents, or be obliged by them 
to give place to one who will do so. But the most 
marked difference of all lies in the fact that the dele 
gate is forced to present the complaint of any one of his 
constituents to the Committee of Forty-one. He has no 
chance for the display of favoritism, nor can he be the 
recipient of bribes from individuals or lobbies. There is 
always a hearing for any constituent, however weak or 
preposterous his plea. Should he, however, be refused 
by his delegate, or should his case be neglected, he may 


go directly before a member of the Board of Conference 
and receive a sanction for the consideration of his com 
plaint by the Committee of Forty-one. Furthermore, the 
session of the Committee of Forty-one is never adjourned 
sine die, and no case can be crowded out or rushed 
through for lack of time. 

As will readily be seen, a delegate in his daily associa 
tions is under constant surveillance by his constituents. 
All of his working hours are office hours for his fellows, 
and he can escape their importunities only by resigna 
tion. Some of the men who have found the position the 
reverse of the honorable sinecure they were seeking have 
given way to others who are prepared to assume, at a 
considerable sacrifice and with unselfish zeal, the extra 
work and the great responsibility entailed. It is only 
fair to the laboring-man to say that among no other 
class is this disinterested devotion to the welfare of his 
mates more frequently met with. 

The presence of a delegate in each of the divisions of 
the laboring-body is, in its way, a check upon the con 
duct of the foremen. Discipline, which is the life of the 
department, is in no manner interfered with. On the 
contrary, it is effectually freed of the objections so often 
resulting from the excessive use of authority. Harsh 
ness, loud-mouthed profanity, and brutality are not likely 
to be indulged in by foremen, with so powerful an inter 
mediary as the delegate always present. Naturally he is 
not allowed to interfere actively. During his working- 
hours he is a laborer pure and simple, and superiors 
must be obeyed, no matter how unjust or unreasonable 
they may be. His power begins only with his weekly 
appearance as a member in the Committee of Forty-one, 
where, alone with his fellows, he is given the opportunity 
of stating his case with any degree of heat that may 


seem to him fitting, and with the certainty that it will 
be judged by no one but laborers with similar associa 
tions and like sympathies. The committee transmits it, 
divested of all incidents of passion, to the Board of Con 
ference, where the laborer is, for the nonce, on an abso 
lute equality with his officer. 

Thus far our arbitration system has proved a most 
gratifying success, and it is with much pleasure that I 
note its indorsement by practical business men and large 
factory-owners. It has, I am firmly convinced, a bright 
and growing future, not only as far as this department is 
concerned, but in the general adjustment of the labor 
question throughout the country. 

I indulge the hope that the modest experiment here 
described may prove, in its expansion, to be a factor of 
no inconsiderable importance in the ultimate solution of 
vexed questions of difference between employer and em 
ployed. Even if it be shown to be limited in sphere to 
its present field of action, its creation has certainly not 
been in vain. The benefit it has conferred on this de 
partment by suppressing the tendency to strike, by the 
creation of an esprit de corps, and by cementing men and 
officers together in a bond of common sympathy and 
fellow-feeling, has been of incalculable assistance toward 
the results I have striven to achieve. It has not only 
furnished a channel for settling individual grievances, 
but it has prevented misunderstandings between the men 
and their commissioner, and has given him the means for 
ascertaining their real feelings in regard to changes in 
policy, new rules, methods, and equipment. In a word, 
with but little labor and the slightest tax upon his time, 
it has brought him face to face with every one of his 
three thousand employees. 



NATURALLY the most obvious, as well as the most 
important, part of the work of street-cleaning is 
that which is done in removing accumulations 
from the surface of the streets. In New York forty per 
cent, of the entire disbursement of the department is for 
sweeping, and sixty per cent, of the laboring-force is em 
ployed in this part of the work, which here is done entirely 
by hand. 

Machine-sweeping was formerly almost universal, es 
pecially when work was done by contract; and, as a rule, 
contract street-cleaning throughout the country is exe 
cuted in this way. At the beginning of operations under 
the present administration there was still a considerable 
amount of work done by machines, which were employed 
almost universally at night. The dust raised by them, 
even with preliminary sprinkling, constituted such a 
nuisance as to make it improper to sweep by machine 
during the day. After very careful comparisons of cost 
and of the character of the work done, it was determined 
that there was little, if any, economy in using machines 



if they were made to do the best work of which they are 
capable, and that it was not possible, under any circum 
stances, to do such uniformly good work by machinery 
as by hand. In the summer of 1895 the use of machines 
was entirely abandoned. Two years' experience with 
hand-work has satisfied me that it is incomparably more 
advantageous than machine-work, and it is not likely 
that the latter will again be resorted to in this city. 

We have four hundred and thirty-three miles of paved 
streets (which alone receive our attention); and we have 
actually at work, at this writing, about fourteen hundred 
and fifty sweepers broom-men. This gives a little less 
than one third of a mile, on an average, to each sweeper. 
There are naturally great deviations in this respect, the 
actual number used in different parts of the city varying 
about from one to a mile to seven to a mile, according to 
the character of the pavement, the character and density 
of the population, the character of the district, whether 
manufacturing, resident, tenement, etc., and the char 
acter and amount of traffic. It is to be understood that 
under the law our men work only eight hours per day. 
This short time is to an important degree offset by the 
fact that their places are very desirable, and that they 
work hard, and in emergencies for longer hours, in order 
that they may keep their places. It is a further induce 
ment that their positions are permanent. Under the law 
as it now exists, and is likely to remain, an employee of 
the department can only be dismissed for cause. One of 
these causes is incapacity, so that these are by no means 
life-positions, but good only for the effective working- 
years of life. 

That parf of Manhattan Island lying below One Hun 
dred and Fifty-second Street is divided into fifty-eight 



sections, having pretty uniformly seven miles of street 
each. The number of men in these sections varies from 
fifteen to thirty-five. Each section is under the control 
of a foreman, who has one or two assistants. The uni 
form of the foreman consists of a close-fitting grayish- 

brown coat, 
throat, with a 
a shield similar 
The assistants 
form, with a 
delta (A) hang- 
The sweepers 
in white duck. 

buttoned to the 
rolling collar; trou- 
a white helmet; and 
to the police badge, 
wear the same uni- 
small silver-plated 
ing below the shield, 
are dressed entirely 
The coat is a sort of 


Norfolk jacket, with a leather belt and metal clasp, with 
metal buttons; trousers which are rather loose; and they 
wear helmets similar to those of the foremen. Each wears 
on his left breast an oval metal badge bearing his number. 
He is obliged to appear always at morning roll-call in a tidy 
condition. As a rule, the suits are changed on Thursday 
and on Monday, but if soiled from any cause they must 
be changed more frequently. Each suit costs one dollar 



and twenty-five cents. The cost of the entire outfit 
two suits, five buttons, belt and clasp, and helmet with 
monogram is four dollars and sixty-three cents. 

Each sweeper is supplied with the following imple 
ments: a two-wheeled bag-carrier and 
a sufficient number of jute bags for his 
day's work; a 
broom of African 
bass with a steel 
scraper at its 
back, a shovel, 


and a short broom. In summer he carries also a water 
ing-can and a key for opening hydrants. If he has any 
considerable amount of asphalt in his beat, he uses for 
this a steel scraper about three feet broad, which is very 
effective for taking up fresh droppings and other accu 

If the section is traversed by one or more avenues of 
heavy traffic, a number and sometimes all of the men 
of the section are worked in gangs early in the morning 
for the first thorough cleaning of these. After that they 
disperse and go each to his own route. As a rule, this 



route is not changed; the same sweeper is employed upon 
it from one end of the year to the other. He becomes 
familiar with its people, its shops, its stables, and what 
ever else may have to do with the incidents of his work. 
Occasionally, from some 
change of condition, the 
amount of work to be done 
is permanently increased. In 
such cases the length of the 
route may be shortened; but 
ordinarily, if a man grows 
slack in his methods and fails 
to keep the route in good or 
der, he is dismissed and a 
more capable man put in his 

The sprinkler must be used 
always in dry weather, dur 
ing the season when it is al 
lowed to open the hydrants 

from April to November. Fines are imposed for raising 
a dust. The accumulations on the streets, of whatever 
character, are, where necessary, loosened by the scraper, 
and are then swept into little piles within a short radius. 
These are then, with the aid of the broom and shovel, 
transferred to the bag, which is held open by the car 
rier. When the bag is filled it is stood on the edge of 
the sidewalk. In wet weather, when the sweepings are 
in a state of solution, they are allowed to stand in piles 
until the free water has drained away; but even then the 
material is wet and heavy, the bags are much less easy 
to handle, and the cart-horses are apt to be overloaded 
because of this. 



A few remote streets of little population and light 
traffic are kept in suitable condition with one daily sweep 
ing; ordinary streets are swept twice a day, and others 
from three to five times, according to the exigencies of 
the case. 

At present the work is divided about as follows: 

63| miles are swept once a day; 
283i " " " twice a day; 
50J " " " three times a day; 
35J " " " four or more times a day. 

This makes a total average sweeping of 924. This is 
not perfunctory work. The streets are really clean, and 
except for the littering, which the police have not yet 
succeeded in preventing, they always look clean. Mud 
is unknown, and dust is vastly diminished in comparison 
with former conditions. 



NEXT in importance to the sweeping of the streets 
is the work of removing not only the product of 
the sweeping, but all domestic and some trade 
wastes, such as ashes, garbage, paper, and rubbish. In 
the New York department thirty-two per cent, of the dis 
bursement is for " carting," and twenty-five per cent, of 
the laboring-force is employed in this part of the work. 
This includes about six hundred drivers, with horses and 
carts. Most of the stable force is charged to carting. 

The carts start out from the various stables at an early 
hour, and go to the sections to which they are assigned, 
the same men generally working on the same routes year 
in and year out. They first remove a load of ashes. 
After this they devote themselves to the carting of gar 
bage until this is all removed. The rest of the day is 
occupied in collecting the remaining ashes and the sweep 
ings that may have been gathered during the day. As 
the sweeping continues until four o'clock, the cartmen 
are obliged to work much later. They take from one and 
a half to two hours' " swing " at noon, but even so they 



work regularly more than the eight hours required of the 
sweepers. We try to so arrange it that every cart shall 
return to the stable before 6 P. M., but even this is not 
always possible. 

In the down-town district, owing to the crowded con 
dition of the streets during the day, it is necessary that 
both sweeping and carting be done at night. There is 
very little population here, and the material to be re 
moved is mainly incident to business traffic. 

The garbage hauls are very long, as there are only six 
garbage-dumps for the whole city. These dumps are 
supplied with scows or other vessels by the Utilization 
Company. The department loads the garbage upon 
these vessels, and its connection with this portion of the 
work is then at an end. For street-sweepings and ashes 
we have seventeen dumps at different points, so located 
as to be within convenient reach, except in the case of 
the district lying west of Central Park. On that side of 
the city we have no dumping facilities of any kind be 
tween Forty-seventh Street and One Hundred and Thirty- 
first Street, a distance of nearly five miles. The removal 
from the central portion of this district is across the park 
to the foot of Eightieth Street, East River a distance 
of two and a half miles, but over very much better grades 
than the route to Forty-seventh Street or to One Hundred 
and Thirty-first Street. 

The street-sweepings are collected in bags, as described 
in the previous chapter. The bags are loaded on the 
carts without being untied, and are emptied at the dump, 
where they are cleaned and dried for the next day's use. 

Thus far ashes are almost entirely collected from 
metal cans and other receptacles which are set on the 
sidewalk inside of the stoop-line or in the areas in front 


of the houses. It is in contemplation soon to extend 
throughout the city an improved system which has been 
in successful operation for more than a year. Under this 
system, each house is supplied with a can supported on 
a tripod six or eight inches above the floor. It has a 
hinged cover, and the bottom is closed by two flap-doors. 
The cartman takes a bag into the house or area or back 
yard, for it is only required that the can be kept out of 
sight of the street and protected from the rain, passes 
the bag under and around the can, and attaches it to the 
top frame of the tripod. He then closes the cover to 
prevent the flying of dust, and operates the mechanism 
which opens the doors at the bottom. The ashes run out 
into the bag, which is tied and set on the sidewalk to be 
removed with the sweepings. These bags also are emp 
tied only at the dump. 

Formerly the practice prevailed of removing in the 
same cart the sweepings shoveled from little piles in the 
streets and the entire waste of the house, which was put 
indiscriminately into the receptacles garbage, ashes, 
paper, rubbish, and everything, save only such large ob 
jects as furniture, mattresses, etc. In 1896 the separa 
tion of these materials was taken in hand, and has now 
been completely effected. 

The treatment of all other material than garbage, 
sweepings, and ashes remains to be described. The re 
moval of this constitutes what we call the "paper and 
rubbish " service. It is ordered that all wastes of this 
class be kept in the house, or at least under cover and 
out of sight of the street. A cart of special construction 
is used for the removal of this material. It is a very 
large low-hung box on two wheels, and is drawn by a 
lighter and more active horse than is required for the 


heavy loads of the sweepings and ash service. This 
material is called for only on the exposure as in the 
basement window of a special " call " card. This is red 
and of diamond shape, with the letters " P. R." in con 
spicuous form in white on the front. Printed instruc 
tions are given on the reverse side. 

This card relates to the following articles: paper, gen 
eral rubbish, bottles, rags, tin cans, excelsior, pasteboard 
boxes, old shoes, leather and rubber scrap, carpets, broken 
glass, barrels, boxes, discarded furniture, wood, and all 

Thus far the carts carrying these wastes dump their 
loads upon the scows which also receive the sweepings 
and ashes, but measures are now being taken to deliver 
them at " Picking-yards," where a thorough sorting will 
be done and everything of salable value culled out and 
made ready for the market. This is more fully described 
in Chapter X. 



A TIME-HONORED custom of the city of New York 
has been to send its garbage to sea with all of 
its other wastes, save only the fat and bones 
collected by the scow-trimming Italians at the dumps. 
By far the largest proportion of garbage consists of 
vegetable refuse, much of which floats in sea-water. 
As a result of this method of disposal, the bathing 
beaches of New Jersey and Long Island have often been 
made unfit for use by the immense amount of offensive 
material washed ashore, especially during storms, and the 
water in the front of the beaches is often too foul for 
bathing because of the watermelon-rinds, cabbage-leaves, 
etc., floating in it. 

The outcry for years against this fouling of the beaches 
has been loud and strenuous. Efforts have been made 
on the part of the authorities of the State of New York 
and of the United States to seek a practicable remedy. 
This remedy has at last been found in the separation of 
garbage from all other material, and its delivery to a 
company which is charged with its care. My expert as- 



sistants have been actively engaged in the consideration 
of this subject since the very beginning of this adminis 
tration. The result of their investigations is well set 
forth in the following report of Mr. Macdonough Craven, 
in chief charge of the investigation, written in Decem 
ber, 1895, as follows: 





When it was decided, early in the year, to dispose of the city's 
garbage by some better method than the old process of dumping 
at sea, an effort was made to learn what system would be best 
suited to the city of New York, with its limited space and its 
large amount of material to be cared for daily, and what the 
economies of such a system might be. 

Early in March last, therefore, the various companies in this 
country engaged in the treatment of garbage were invited to 
present to this department informal bids showing the prices at 
which they would be willing to receive and properly dispose of 
the garbage of New York City. 

Twenty-six answers were received and opened on March 26, 
but only one company was willing to accept a contract from the 
city without a subsidy to aid in the work. The average of all 
bids from companies which proposed to cremate or destroy by 
fire was ninety cents per ton of garbage delivered, to be paid by 
the city; and from companies which proposed to utilize the gar 
bage, or convert its available parts into grease and fertilizer, the 
average of all bids was fifty-five cents per ton. Only about half 
of the twenty-six bidders were believed by the department to be 
sufficiently experienced and responsible to make offers from them 
acceptable to the city. 

Under these circumstances, it was deemed advisable to make 
an independent investigation of the various methods proposed, 
since, on the one hand, the city should not be allowed to pay 


more than, under economical management, would secure efficient 
service, while, on the other hand, it would be disastrous to ac 
cept a low bid from any company which, on limited experience, 
might have underestimated the cost, and find itself losing money 
and obliged to cease operations. No financial return in the form 
of bonded security could recompense the city if it should find its 
garbage uncared for in the midst of a heated summer. 

Acting upon this theory, a circular letter was prepared and 
sent to each of the companies, proposing an examination of its 
plant and system by two competent men from this department, 
the scope of the examination to include the cost of operation, the 
value of the commercial products, and the very important 
questions of the permissible character of the process and its 
adaptability to the needs of this city; the minimum time of test 
to be thirty days; the salaries and expenses of the examiners to 
be paid by the company; the numerical results of the test to be 
considered confidential information to this department. 

Several of the companies acquiesced in the value of such an 
examination, and expressed their willingness to accede to its 

Competent men were therefore selected for the work, differ 
ent ones being sent to different plants, in order that the exami 
nation might be impartial and unprejudiced, and the result 
obtained within a reasonably short time. The tests were of 
necessity summer tests, when garbage becomes most quickly 
offensive, when any odors arising from the treatment would 
surely be noticeable, and when also garbage contains most 
water and is least valuable for utilization purposes. 

More than three thousand tons of garbage in the cities of 
Buffalo, St. Louis, Philadelphia, Brooklyn, and New York were 
treated by different methods, under the supervision of your in 

One point made clear by the investigation is that when gar 
bage is collected daily from each house, from clean cans, and con 
veyed at once to a properly equipped reduction plant, it has not 
time to ferment, even in summer, before it is safely stowed away 


within the steam-tight cooking-tanks of the reduction plant; and 
that under these conditions, and under experienced management, 
the operations of such a factory can be carried on with little 
more offense than arises from a large kitchen. 

The first difficulty experienced, in the endeavor to operate a 
satisfactory system of collection and disposal, arises from the 
tendency of some householders to consider the cleanliness of the 
private garbage-can as the affair of the city. If the house 
holder daily delivers to the garbage-collector only the table and 
kitchen refuse of the past twenty-four hours, it is evident that 
there cannot be serious offense in what was so lately fit for the 
table; but if the can is not thoroughly cleaned each day after 
being emptied, it will soon give rise to odors and just com 

The second difficulty is found in the natural tendency of men 
engaged in handling such waste material to regard it as essen 
tially unclean, and therefore to fail to maintain in a state of 
cleanliness the carts, wagons, and machinery in use. 

When our observations on this point are condensed, they 
amount simply to a statement of the facts that garbage twenty- 
four hours old is not offensive to the smell, either in small or in 
large quantities, but that even minute remnants do become 
offensive in two or three days, and that only unremitting care 
can keep the cans, carts, and machinery employed in a cleanly 

Kitchen refuse consists of animal and vegetable scrap, con 
taining and mixed with a large amount of water. The animal 
scrap is of value for utilization purposes, because it furnishes 
the principal part of the grease and ammonia which are the 
salable products of garbage; and since the cost of treating such 
waste is approximately the same, be it rich or poor, it is plain 
that the commercial value of garbage varies almost directly as 
its proportion of animal matter. If the amount of grease and 
ammonia recovered are sufficient to defray the expense of treat 
ment, the people of any city may have their garbage disposed 
of without cost; and while this condition probably does not now 


exist anywhere on the continent, it is an end worth striving for 
if it can be accomplished without loss to the householder. 

Some practices of the citizen which affect the value of gar 
bage have been reported. A large proportion of people keep un 
covered garbage-cans or -barrels, and a vast majority of these 
keep them in yards or outhouses, where they are accessible to 
every stray cat or prowling dog that comes, and soon they come 
regularly. Some of the investigators have watched troops of 
cats making their nightly rounds from yard to yard, pulling out 
of each accustomed barrel and can the accessible pieces of meat, 
bone, and other delicacies; and thus not only is a public nui 
sance maintained in the form of a howling mob of homeless cats, 
but the garbage is culled of the only parts that go to make it 
valuable to a contractor or help to reduce the price which the 
city must pay for its disposal. 

The same trouble intensified is found when garbage is col 
lected only three times, or perhaps twice, a week. The cats 
and dogs do just so much more work. And then, too, the tidy 
housekeeper, to whom a waste-can is an eyesore under the best 
of circumstances, gets tired of smelling or imagining the odors 
due to two or three days' decomposition, and begins to consign, 
not to the garbage-can, but to the kitchen fire, all that burns 
most easily of course the scraps containing grease. This is 
waste of good material, but it is much better than foul odors 
and the midnight cat. If in this city, where garbage is collected 
daily, the householder will only keep a cover on his can, he will 
do much toward lessening the cost of final disposition. 

One can scarcely conceive of a crematory which destroys 
garbage by fire becoming a self-supporting concern, since con 
siderable fuel is necessary and the only residue is ashes; but the 
fact that there are garbage " utilization " plants at once sug 
gests that under certain conditions the utilizable material may 
pay for its own extraction. It is perhaps needless to say that 
the word "garbage" which is so loosely used in this and a 
few other cities to denote any kind of waste, or a mixture of 
them all, including ashes and street-sweepingsis for the pur- 


pose of this investigation limited to animal and vegetable refuse 
from markets and kitchens. Only this is desirable in a utiliza 
tion plant. A small admixture of cans, bottles, and berry-boxes 
entails extra expense for separation, but is not prohibitory of 
the process, while any such mixture as we have in New York 
to-day, of ashes, garbage, and a little of everything, is pro 
hibitory. Garbage must be separated from everything else to 
be effectively and properly treated, and the other things must 
be separated from garbage to find, in their turn, any useful 

In connection with the tests, I beg to call attention to the 
uniform courtesy with which the examiners have been received, 
and the willing assistance offered at the various working plants 
inspected. As noted above, the salaries and all expenses of the 
examiners, and the additional costs incidental to the tests, have 
been cheerfully borne by the companies, and no trouble or ex 
pense has been spared by them to further the interests of the 
investigation. The Merz Universal Extractor and Construction 
Company submitted its operations to our inspection for a term 
of four weeks in Buffalo and two in St. Louis; and for a further 
test of New York and Brooklyn garbage, and to demonstrate 
the Preston process, which is controlled by the above company, 
experiments were carried on for two weeks in a special plant in 
Greenpoint, Long Island. The Sanative Refuse Company, at an 
expense of several thousand dollars, equipped a plant in New 
York City and conducted a continuous test of two months for 
the purpose of allowing us to study their system and to learn 
the character and composition of New York garbage. The 
works of the American Incinerating Company in Philadelphia 
treated eighteen hundred tons to illustrate their utilization sys 
tem and the character of Philadelphia garbage, while, for a 
similar purpose in Brooklyn, the American Reduction Company 
reduced eighty-four tons under our inspection. The Holthaus 
plant at Bridgeport, Connecticut, has undergone an exhaustive 
and costly test; and as the company operating this system 
apparently does not receive all the garbage of the city, it is 


working under difficulties and at an unnecessary expense. Not 
withstanding this, however, every facility has been given to the 
department examiners. 

The Standard Construction and Utilization Company of Phil 
adelphia was inspected under the same conditions as the above- 
named companies, but, owing to difficulties unforeseen by its 
managers, it proved impossible to complete the test. 

Systematically arranged, the tests already made appear as 


Merz Universal Extractor and Construction 

Company Buffalo . . June 

Merz Universal Extractor and Construction 

Company St. Louis . July 

Sanative Refuse Company . . . New York . August 

At these three plants grease is extracted by the use of hydro 
carbon oils, and the remaining solids are converted into a 
fertilizer base. 


The Preston process .... Greenpoint . July 
The Bridgeport Utilization Company . . Bridgeport . February 
American Incinerating Company . . Philadelphia July 

At these three plants grease is extracted by mechanical pres 
sure, and the remaining solids are made into a fertilizer base. 


Sanative Refuse Company (Pierce process) New York . September 
American Reduction Company . . Brooklyn . May 

Both these companies make the garbage solids into a complete 
fertilizer ready for the farmer's use, but the first extracts the 
grease by means of a solvent, while the second uses acid. 


The Standard Construction and Utilization 

Company . . t . - , ,, , Philadelphia August 


At this plant the cooking is done in steam- jacketed caldrons, 
the charge being agitated meanwhile, and the grease separated 
by flotation and skimming. 

These comprise most of the best-known systems, and illustrate 
nearly all of what in this country has been reduced to practice 
in the treatment of garbage. As yet we have derived from the 
house and hotel garbage only grease and fertilizer materials. 
Our two best-known means of extracting the grease are (1) by 
dissolving it in some liquid which, after being drawn off, may be 
separated from the grease and recovered, and (2) the mechan 
ical method of forcing out warm grease under heavy pressure. 
During this summer's tests these two methods, and all others 
submitted, were carefully examined as to the cost of operation 
and the results obtained. The importance of this becomes at 
once evident when it is known that the forty to fifty pounds of 
grease in a ton of garbage may be extracted in such condition 
as to sell for three and a half cents per pound, making in value 
about half the available material in garbage, and that if any 
remains unextracted it is doubly lost, since it detracts from the 
selling value of the fertilizer. 

The facts to be learned, then, in reference to grease extrac 
tion by each method were (1) the cost of operation; (2) the 
amount of grease extracted; (3) its condition freedom from 
dirt, water, etc.; (4) the amount unextracted; and by determin 
ing these four points we have not only established the relative 
efficiencies of the different methods practised, but have learned 
the character and value of New York garbage as compared 
with that of other cities. 

A special paper upon the condition and probable future of 
the grease trade has been prepared from information furnished 
by dealers and consumers expert in the business, and this 
enables us to give to garbage grease, offered in small or in 
large quantities, its proper place and value, and to gage the 
accuracy of estimates which determine the figures submitted by 

Regarding the solid matter of garbage, which after being 


cooked becomes tankage or fertilizer base or complete fertil 
izer, there has been established a similar kind of information as 
to (1) the cost of getting rid of the water; (2) the amount of 
dry matter saved (and it is strange that the same kind of gar 
bage shows such various results by diiferent methods); (3) the 
condition of this dry matter whether it is in a form suitable 
for the fertilizer manufacturer (and again it is strange how it 
varies); and (4) the amount of solid matter lost. 

Here, too, a paper on the fertilizer trade, similar to that on 
the grease trade, has been prepared, and from similar sources. 

The relation of these factories to the health of the commu 
nity in which they are situated is determined by the cleanliness 
of the building and machinery, the manner and condition in 
which the garbage water is got rid of, and the character and 
amount of odors which escape. So much progress has been 
made of late years, and so many difficulties have been over 
come, some by one company and some by another, that it seems 
safe now to say that if the best that is known on the subject 
could be put into practice in one factory, that factory could 
with freedom be located in any city on the continent. 

It has been found necessary also to make a detailed study, 
covering several weeks, of the present disposition of the gar 
bage and grease wastes of the city hotels, restaurants, and 
large boarding-houses. Many of these had made contracts with 
private parties for the disposal of their garbage before the city 
was in position to care for it, and even since that time the 
hours of removal by the city have not always met the necessi 
ties of such establishments, and many of the private contracts 
have been continued. This study was part of the general plan 
for determining the character and amount of recoverable 
kitchen waste in this city of meat-eaters not noted for exces 
sive economy, and a valuable part, since in these places the 
separation of garbage from other matters has always been 
carefully made. 

An examination of the libraries has furnished much useful in 
formation from the cities of Europe in reference to the amount 


of their garbage, its value, and the adopted methods of disposal, 
and both prepared the way for a comparison of their methods 
with ours, and enabled us to set a standard below which we 
need not fall. 

The reports from the various examiners, upon being submitted, 
have been collated and corresponding tables prepared. A gen 
eral report is herewith submitted. 

The methods considered cover the hydrocarbon, acid, and 
mechanical processes. 

Hydrocarbon processes extract the grease more thoroughly 
than any other method inspected. 

Acid processes do not, as a rule, give good results as far as 
grease is concerned. 

Mechanical processes extract a fair percentage of the grease. 

The tankage is of varying quality, according to the method 
used and the class of garbage handled. All reduction methods, 
properly conducted, can be made unobjectionable from the 
sanitary point of view. The faults seem to come from a want 
of experience in construction, for what has been found offensive 
in one plant has been so handled in another as to be entirely 
without offense. 

The material received in the different cities shows a great 
difference. This is due to the following causes: 

1. Season of the year! 

2. Geographical and trade location of the city. 

3. Variation of the regulations in force. 

4. Delinquencies of the officials in enforcing proper separa 
tion, and the consequent carelessness of the collectors, resulting 
in the delivery at the dumps or works of many things not prop 
erly belonging to city garbage. 

The different seasons of the year show different classes of 
garbage. During the winter the garbage is less in bulk and 
greater in weight. This is due to the fact that many canned 
and only a few green vegetables are used. During the summer 
the quantity is larger, but the weight in proportion to the bulk 
is less. This is due to the fact that the green stuff or waste 


from fresh vegetables is predominant. During the summer 
months, also, a much larger proportion of refuse incidental to 
the handling of fruits and vegetables is mixed with the gar 
bage. The different seasons may also be divided, as, for ex 
ample, periods covering such as green-corn time, pea-pod time, 
melon time, and so on. 

Geographical location controls garbage to the extent of 
determining the classes of vegetable and animal food that are in 
general use. Furthermore, as all cities are more or less trade 
centers and cosmopolitan in character, the floating population 
varies with the season of the year, and the markets' business 
varies in accordance therewith. The increase in population 
makes an increase in the waste. 

The regulations of the various municipalities in some cases 
permit rubbish to be mixed with the garbage, and the quality 
and quantity of this rubbish are not clearly defined. 

The delinquencies of officials, drivers, collectors, etc., arise 
from carelessness, personal gain by collusion with those inter 
ested in the works or with the householders, or an honest belief 
that they can improve on regulations and benefit the cities 
thereby. The last-mentioned class is very small. 

It is found by investigation that the averages of collection and 
disposal vary. This variation can be traced to several causes: 

1. Method of disposition. 

2. Whether the city or a contractor makes the collections. 

3. The regulations; that is, whether they permit of the gar 
bage being overhauled by rag-pickers, etc. 

4. Frequency of collections. 

If the garbage and general refuse are hauled to dumps, and the 
haul is long, the cartmen or drivers, especially in rainy or 
otherwise disagreeable weather, if opportunity offers, will lessen 
their work by dumping at the most convenient place. 

If the city refuse is burned, the material best adapted to the 
furnace is generally delivered, that is, combustible refuse. 

If, on the other hand, it is reduced, combustible refuse is not 
especially desirable. 


If the city makes the collections, and the cartmen are not 
closely supervised, they are liable to give poor service, and the 
householder, in order to improve on that service, will employ 
private collectors. 

The collections made by private cartmen are not handled by 
the city as a rule, and therefore all record of such collections 
is lost. 

Again, if a contractor makes the collections, it depends 
largely on the basis of payment; that is, if the payments are 
made in a lump sum, the tendency of the contractor is to collect 
as small a quantity as possible, whereas, if the payment is per 
ton or per cubic yard, there is a tendency, to collect everything 
of sufficient weight or bulk to make the collection as large as 
possible. Percentages of collections per capita, therefore, vary. 

The third case under consideration depends on the inspectors, 
police, health board, or whomsoever controls the work or super 
vises it. Should the supervision be lax, or the regulations per 
mit, a large part of the refuse will be culled from the receptacles 
by rag-pickers and scavengers, and- large quantities will thus be 
disposed of in an insalutary manner, also to the detriment of 
correct data of quantity, and the streets will be strewn with 
rubbish as well. 

Nothing better than the method of collection pursued in this 
city has so far presented itself. 

The frequency of collection has a strong bearing on the 
quantity collected. This is shown by the annexed tables, and 
may be due to several causes. Infrequent collection affords 
more opportunities for scavengers, both men and animals, to 
overhaul and deplete the waste. 

The rubbish mixed with garbage is mainly tin cans; besides 
these there are bottles, rags, crockery, berry-baskets (especially 
in fruit season), wood scraps, metal, and all conceivable kinds 
of refuse. A three-foot section of sixty-pound T-rail was deliv 
ered at one of the works as garbage. 

The cans are sold, the solder is in some cases recovered, and 
the body of the can melted down. They are a great nuisance 


to reduction plants, as in several processes they, or a part of 
them, are dumped into the extractors or the driers, as the case 
may be. If these cans do not fall bottom side up in the extrac 
tors, they not only hold what grease is in them, but also what 
ever finds its way into them while in the extractor. The cans 
in quantity in the driers cause considerable wear on the ma 
chinery, which may more than offset their value as auxiliary 
disintegrators, as will be set forth in the discussion on driers. 

Those that are culled from the fresh or green garbage all 
rubbish, in fact, culled from garbage should be disinfected 
before being marketed. 

The next matter of importance, as far as rubbish is concerned, 
is the rags. These rags are in some cases delivered with the 
garbage in large quantities. They are culled for various rea 
sonsfor marketing, to be used as combustibles in furnaces, 
and also to keep them clear of the machinery, which they are 
liable to clog to a great extent, more especially in rotary driers. 

The other rubbish, with the exception of the bottles and 
crockery, is generally thrown into the furnace and consumed. 

The above remarks apply more generally to reduction plants 
than to crematories, as in crematories combustible refuse mixed 
with the garbage aids and cheapens the cost of cremation, and 
tin cans keep the garbage more or less separated, thus permit 
ting the heat to work through. 

Nearly all the nuisances that arise or are complained of in 
regard to garbage originate from the free water mixed with 
the garbage. This drips from the carts, or is spilled from them 
in dumping, in varying quantities. It has that sour or swill 
smell so prevalent and so well known. This free water can be 
traced to three causes: rain, waste water of cooking, exudations 
from the vegetables themselves. 

The rain-water is not, as a rule, of sufficient quantity to de 
mand attention. If, however, the haul is long, the cart open, 
and the receptacles have been standing some time before col 
lection, then the quantity of rain-water mixed with the garbage 
is more than would be expected, and is, in fact, at times very 


large. The usual quantity of free water is in the neighborhood 
of ten per cent, by weight, or from twenty-five to thirty gallons 
per ton. 

The waste water of cooking forms a large part of the ten per 
cent., in fact, nearly all of it, and is something to be avoided. 
Should it go to the sewer? Certainly it should not be permitted 
to pollute the public streets through the bottoms of leaky carts. 

The small quantity which exudes from the garbage itself can 
hardly be considered. 

It is this swill water and the grease which clings to the sides 
and bottoms of the household receptacles and of the garbage 
carts which make them offensive; and if these receptacles and 
carts are not cleansed properly, and as often as necessary, the 
foul odors which arise give constant and just cause for com 
plaint. This free water is not desired by crematories, but is ad 
vantageous to certain reduction plants. 

In connection with the above, it might be well to speak of the 
receptacles and carts in general use. 

The receptacles are not, as a rule, of the proper shape, being 
cylindrical in form and too high in proportion to the diameter, 
making them difficult to empty. A receptacle of wide mouth 
and narrow bottom could be more rapidly emptied, more easily 
cleansed, and would therefore be more acceptable to both the 
householder and the cartman. 

" Galvanized-iron pails with covers are recommended. If the 
contents are kept properly dry, fermentation and the production 
of offensive gases are avoided, even although the temperature of 
the air is high " (" A Treatise on Hygiene and Public Health ") 

The carts in general use are of metal and tight-bottomed. 
The patterns vary; some are covered, some open. 

" Large metal carts, like our ' trucks,' with springs to prevent 
noise, and with close-fitting wooden covers, made in sections, so 
that the entire cover need not be raised for the introduction of 
each pailful of garbage, are most in favor in German cities." 

Daily removal is best. 

After culling, the garbage treated at the different works 


visited was, as a rule, similar in character. It was principally 
summer garbage and largely vegetable and fruit waste. This 
summer garbage, on account of its bulk, has to be handled 
more rapidly than that of the winter. It is therefore not so 
carefully culled, although, as it contains fewer ingredients of 
value, it may be more rapidly worked. 

The winter garbage does not contain so much vegetable 
waste, but on account of the season of the year, and the large 
quantities of ice occasionally contained therein, more fuel is 
necessary to dispose of it; but the value of winter garbage is 
greater than that of summer. 

The variation in the per cent, of useless tailings from reduc 
tion plants is due to the " efficiency of separation " by the cities, 
also to the manner of screening in use at the various works; but 
it is not due to the process. That is, the percentage of availa 
ble solid matter for fertilizer contained in garbage is practically 
constant, but if the authorities permit extraneous matter to be 
mixed with the garbage, or if the mesh of the screen used in 
screening dried tankage is small, then the per cent, of waste is 

These tailings are used for various purposes, but are gener 
ally burned. They have a distinct value, as compared with 
coal, as a fuel. Although the fires have to be carefully cleansed 
after each burning of tailings, still they reduce the price of fuel 
per ton of garbage worked. 

In many of the processes more of the tailings could be used 
for fertilizer if the process of separating them was complete. 
The only question is, Would a more expensive process, and one 
taking more time, pay for the slight additional percentage of 
available tankage over and above the gain made by the tailings 
used as fuel ? 

The gases and vapors that are driven off from the garbage 
during the working of the same are disposed of in two ways 
by condensation and by cremation. 

Vapors that are condensed are liable to be more offensive in 
the end than those that are burned. Condensation also is not 


liable to be very effective, as the foul vapors are driven off to 
gether with large quantities of steam. The steam and vapors 
will naturally mix as far as possible. These vapors, surcharged 
with steam, are carried to the condenser and there expected to 
take up or to be taken up by greater quantities of water. The 
condensed vapors, however, mixed with the water of condensa 
tion, are carried off to the sewer. 

Gases passing over with the vapors would presumably be 
washed in this process; they would not of necessity be made 
harmless, and the water might be very disagreeable. 

Where the gases are burned they are passed directly through 
the furnace fires and thence up the stack to the open air. They, 
together with the vapors, are heated to a high degree of tem 
perature, or burned, and float away over the heads of the 
people, instead of running under their feet, as in the condensa 
tion process. If the stacks are high enough and the tempera 
ture sufficiently great, these heated vapors will float to a long 
distance before cooling and descending to an objectionable level. 
They are probably by that time so mixed with air as to be 
scarcely appreciable. On damp or rainy days, however, they 
would undoubtedly be brought to the ground more rapidly than 
during dry weather. 

Sentiment controls largely the complaints which arise on ac 
count of garbage. 

The householder who properly separates the garbage will not 
find it more offensive than the soiled plates removed day by day 
from his table, and if the receptacle was as religiously cleansed 
as the soiled plates there would be no offensive odors therefrom. 
Fresh garbage is inoffensive. 

Where garbage is collected and permitted to stand in quanti 
ties, it is not generally dangerous to life until it becomes putrid. 
This condition arises, of course, more rapidly during the heat of 
the summer than at other seasons of the year. Where this 
garbage is collected in mass and allowed to stand, disinfec 
tants are undoubtedly necessary. This would also be the case 
where the collections are made, as they are in some cities, at 


intervals of three days or, when Sunday intervenes, four days 

Garbage collected every day can be hauled through the streets 
without being specially disagreeable to the passer-by. It is not 
prejudicial to the public health when fresh, and cannot be gen 
erally considered so until it makes itself offensive. 

Disinfectants in general use are well known chloride of lime, 
permanganate of potash, and the dead oils of tar. A very ad 
vantageous method of disinfecting both carts and garbage is in 
use in Buffalo. Creolin, mixed with water, is loaded in a tank 
charged with compressed air. This tank is fitted with a short 
hose and spray-nozzle and is attached to the cart. When the 
cartman finds a receptacle that, in his judgment, needs disin 
fecting, it is first emptied and then sprayed. The garbage on 
the cart is then sprayed with the disinfectant. This gives, ap 
parently, very good results. 

Dead oils of tar and permanganate of potash are generally 
used in and about the works and on the floors thereof. The 
dead oils of tar, on account of their cheapness and because they 
have no appreciable odor of their own, are in common use. 

In the hydrocarbon processes the hydrocarbons used while 
extracting grease are also well known as disinfectants, naphtha 
being generally used in the preparation of edible greases. In 
the mechanical processes, or steam processes, steam itself is a 
disinfectant. Where rubbish such as tin cans, rags, etc., is 
disinfected, it is generally done with steam. 

Steam at a temperature of 220 F. will destroy all disease 
germs in four hours' time. Steam under pressure is more 
valuable, for the reason that it is more penetrating. Steam in 
motion is also more efficacious than steam at rest. 

Heat is the oldest disinfectant known. It is also probably 
the best, as it is destructive of all organic life. 

The driers in general use are cylindrical driers, steam- 
jacketed, with revolving reels. The shell of the drier is of 
cast-iron or steel plate. The cast-iron shell is preferable, as it 
does not erode as rapidly under the action of the gases or the 


grinding of the material. The shell, also, of cast-iron driers is 
not subject to leakage, as is frequently the case in steel-plate 

The garbage is dried either while fresh or after treatment. 
Where fresh garbage is shot into the driers, the swill water is 
advantageous, because it assists in disintegration. Tin cans and 
other hard refuse, such as crockery, etc., are also advantageous 
to a certain degree, as they help the revolving paddles to grind 
the material. It will thus be seen that a cylindrical drier fills 
three positions when used on fresh garbage: it dries, it grinds, 
and it cooks. The dried garbage, therefore, is pretty thor 
oughly cooked and pulverized when it leaves the drier. In 
general, in this part of the process about sixty per cent, of 
moisture is driven off. 

The operations of driers are continuous. They are loaded 
from the top and discharged from the bottom. There is no 
necessity of shutting them down, except for repairs. 

When the material is dried after treatment the drier also 
acts partialh as a mill, but in this case no cooking goes on. A 
certain proportion of foreign substance is also useful in this 
partial milling process. The work of the drier in this latter 
case is not so great as where the green garbage is first dried, 
nor is the wear and tear on the machinery so great, nor is so 
much heat necessary, as there is a less quantity of moisture to 
evaporate. As will be readily seen, therefore, the number of 
driers per ton of garbage would be less than in the former case. 

The gases and vapors driven off by the driers go to the con 
densers or through the furnaces. In cases where cooking is 
first done, the gases and vapors go from the digesters to the 
condensers or through the furnaces. The lead pipes to the con 
densers or furnaces should be of cast-iron, as wrought-iron has 
not been found satisfactory in actual practice. This is due to 
the erosive effect of the vapors driven off. It is conclusive, 
then, that it would be advantageous to have the driers or 
digesters as close to the furnaces as is practicable. 

The extractors and digesters as a rule are of about five tons, 


capacity, although they are generally considered to hold much 
more. Whether the overestimate is the fault of the construc 
tors or of the operators, it is difficult to ascertain, as the gar 
bage treated therein varies in proportion of bulk to weight 
through the different seasons of the year. Constructors are 
liable to make the extractors as small as possible, on account 
of the room which they occupy in a building. For this reason 
their cubic contents may have been, in some instances, de 

The operators are desirous of showing as large a capacity in 
their plant as possible, and therefore may overestimate the 
weight of green or dried garbage that the extractors hold. 

This portion of the machinery is built of varying weights of 
metal, as different operations and operators use different pres 
sures of steam or naphtha, as the case may be. 

In cases where the grease is extracted by pressure the presses 
inspected have been of the same general character. The re 
sults shown are sufficient to indicate that the pressing process, 
although more rapid than the naphtha process, does not extract 
so large a percentage of grease. Constant advances are being 
made in this direction, however, and the presumption is that 
within a short time much better results will be obtained than 
at present from the press. 

The tankage from the press is generally more noticeable, as 
far as odor is concerned, than that from the extractor in hydro 
carbon or acid processes, the hydrocarbons and acids acting as 
deodorizers. As this tankage has been thoroughly disinfected 
by steam boiling, etc., and has been maintained at a tempera 
ture above 212 F. for several hours, it is presumably as thor 
oughly disinfected as in any other case; but there is a stronger 
odor, which has been so frequently described as that of sweet 
ened coffee, plum-pudding, gingerbread, caramel, etc. The 
choice of a name depends largely upon the last dinner eaten. 

The milling and screening are generally done in separate 
rooms. The finished product is screened in rotary screens, and 
the foreign substances and coarse material separated from the 


fine material. The foreign substances and coarse matter from 
the screen, generally termed tailings, are separated on the tail 
ing-board. The coarse fertilizer stuff is carried to a mill and 
ground. The tailings, composed of combustible and non-com 
bustible refuse (but very little of the latter), are burned or 
thrown away. The product of the mill is mixed with the 
screened material. 

In some cases everything which comes from the drier or ex 
tractor goes through the mill, only the coarser and more appa 
rent waste being separated before milling. This gives a more 
even run of finished tankage, but presumably one that would 
not show so high an analysis, tankage being sold by analysis 
that is, in accordance with the phosphoric acid, potash, and 
ammonia contained therein. 

During the process of milling, care must be taken that the 
finished product does not ignite. There is so much iron and 
metal of other kinds in the finished tankage that care has to be 
observed to prevent firing in the mill. While milling or screen 
ing, also, quantities of fine dust are liable to be freed and mixed 
with the atmosphere. It is this fine dust which carries the 
odor from the factory, especially if the rooms be not closed and 
a breeze has an opportunity to get at this dust. It is a ques 
tion, also, if the insurance companies do not consider that this 
floating material adds to the risk of insurance. That, together 
with the naphtha used in some processes and acids in others, 
would, and probably does, affect the rate of insurance. 

The dust from the mill is taken care of in various ways, 
usually by means of a suction-fan, the mill itself being tightly 
inclosed. This dust, on analysis, shows a higher per cent, of 
merchantable products than the milled stuff itself; but it is so 
small in proportion to the bulk of material handled that it 
would scarcely pay to collect it. 

The screens used are of varying diameters and size of mesh. 
The rapidity with which they are revolved is also another factor 
to be considered. They clog chiefly from nails and rags, and it 
may be found necessary to stop them at intervals in order to 


free the mesh. These rags, by the by, are a difficult factor in 
the working of garbage during nearly all stages of the process. 


Buffalo 0.245 Ibs. per day 

Boston 0.946 " 

Wilmington .... 0.805 " " 

St. Louis .... 0.277 " 

New Bedford . . . 0.890 " 

Cincinnati .... 0.566 " " 

Philadelphia .... 0.332 " " for 3 districts 

Lowell 0.408 " 


Three thousand tons of summer garbage, from different cities, 
treated by different methods, show a general average compo 
sition of 

Rubbish . 7 per cent., or 140 Ibs. per ton of garbage 

Water . .71 " " 1,420 " 

Grease . 2 " "40 " 

Tankage . .20 " " 400 " 

100 " " 2,000 " 

The selling value of a ton of garbage when thus treated is: 

Grease, 40 Ibs., at 3 cents $1.20 

C Ammonia, 13 Ibs., at 8 cents .... 1.04 

Tankage < Phosphoric acid, 13 Ibs., at 1 cent ... .13 
( Potash, 3 Ibs., at 3 cents 10 




THUS far most of the matters collected by the de 
partment carts, with the exception of garbage, 
have been all dumped together on the scows and 
taken to sea. The separate treatment of paper and rub 
bish has been inaugurated, and will before very long be 
come universal, so that it is proposed in this chapter to 
treat the final disposition of street-sweepings and ashes 
as it is to be when this shall have been made com 

At present there are thirteen Barney dumping-boats 
and a varying number of scows used for this service. 
The carts collect ashes and street-sweepings at the same 
time, and dump them together upon the vessels. These 
are towed to a point beyond the light-ship, some ten miles 
outside of Sandy Hook, where they are either dumped or 
unloaded by hand into the sea. When there is a demand 
for this material for filling (as there happens to be at 
this writing), so much of it as is called for is loaded on 
deck-scows and taken by contractors to the lands to be 
filled, and unloaded by them, the scows being returned 



to the dumps. The contractor receives for the service a 
cash sum, which is considerably less than would be the 
cost to the department of towing to sea. 

This whole system is soon to be radically changed. It 
is proposed to use all of the ashes and sweepings collected 


About twenty Italians unload the cargo of a deck-scow in about two and 
one half hours. In 1896 over 760,000 cubic yards of refuse were disposed of 
in this manner, on 1531 scows, at an average cost of 17.9 cents per cubic yard. 

by the department at Riker's Island, in the East River, 
nearly opposite Morris Point, for filling in a shoal behind 
a bulkhead constructed for its protection, or for raising 
the level of the lower part of the land. 

Outside of the bulkhead there will be constructed, with 
suitable piling, a pen or inclosure into which the vessels 
will be taken, their contents being there dumped. Pump- 



ing-machinery will be provided of sufficient capacity to 
take up the material so dumped and move it in a strong 
current of water through the pumps and through long 
pipes or canvas conveyers to the point of deposit. This 
system for moving earth, etc., has been largely and suc- 



The boat has been opened and is being towed along, the seaway washing 
out the load. When empty the boat closes by flotation. The department 
employs a fleet of thirteen Barney dumpers, which in 1896 carried to sea over 
1,440,000 cubic yards of refuse, at an average cost of 13.8 cents per cubic yard. 

cessfully used on the Potomac Flats at Washington, in 
government work at League Island, below Philadelphia, 
and on the Cambridge border of Charles River, near Bos- 


ton. It was also used in the construction of the North 
Sea Canal in Holland. 

It is proposed to employ for this work a type of vessel 


of peculiar construction, known as the Delehanty boat. 
The first of these (the Cinderella) is now in successful 
use for the transportation of sweepings and ashes to sea. 


The department is building two other boats of the same 
character the Aschenbroedel and the Cendrillon. Two 
others, the Cenerentola and the Asschepoester, are to follow. 
This fleet of five boats will be adequate for the entire 
transportation of all of the ashes and sweepings from all 
parts of the city. It would not be profitable to use them 
under the present arrangement of direct dumping from 
carts. Their economical use will require the construc 
tion of elevated " pocket-dumps." One such dump is now 
completed, and is in successful operation at the foot 
of East Seventeenth Street. When all of the dumping- 
places are provided with the new structures, the Delehanty 
boats will be loaded without loss of time, and can make 
from two to four trips per day to Riker's Island. 

The pocket-dump is a steel structure about one hun 
dred feet long and fifty feet high. A continuous link-belt 
conveyer passes under the pockets, into which the carts 
are discharged, continues up past one end of the build 
ing, returning horizontally under its roof, and down at 
the other end. 

It discharges its material into any one of the ten 
elevated pockets provided, as may be desired. These 
pockets have sloping floors and are closed with gates. 
The gates being opened one after the other, the contents 
of the pockets fall into the vessel. 

The Delehanty boat is a catamaran, or double-hull 
vessel, with a space twelve feet wide between the two 
hulls. This space is occupied by pockets rising to a 
considerable height above the deck. The floors of the 
pockets are formed of two doors hinged at the sides and 
opening downward. They are controlled by heavy chains 
worked by steam-power. When they are released they 
fall away and the load is delivered, in the case of Riker's 


Island inside of the dumping-pit above described. These 
boats have two propellers with independent engines, are 
entirely seaworthy, and are easily controlled, so that little 
time need be lost in placing them under the dumps. The 
contract price of the Delehanty boat is $40,000. The 
capacity is about five hundred cubic yards each. 

The pocket-dumps cost something less than $20,000 
each. There will be at least fifteen such dumps provided 
for the handling of garbage, sweepings, and ashes only. 

The cost of delivering material at Hiker's Island 
and depositing it in place will be about one third of the 
present cost of sending it to sea. It is estimated that 
the land thus reclaimed will cost $1400 per acre, and it 
will be worth at least twice that amount for the city's use. 

It is estimated that the fleet of five Delehanty boats 
(with the shorter trip to Riker's Island) will supplant 
thirteen Barney dumpers, thirty-five deck-scows, and the 
equivalent of five tug-boats, in constant use. The cost 
of these going to the light-ship was, in 1896, $308,600; 
the cost of transporting the same wastes by the new fleet 
will be about $96,000; that is, while delivery at Riker's 
Island will cost only 5 TO cents, the cost of delivery at sea 
is 14 cents, per cubic yard. 



WE now come to one of the most interesting 
features of the operations of the depart 
mentan outgrowth of the necessity for 
using hand-labor to " trim the scows." When carts are 
dumped upon these vessels it is necessary, in order to 
keep them on an even keel, to employ shovelers to level 
off the load and distribute it evenly from side to side. 
This is " scow-trimming." 

Some sixteen years ago it cost the city about $11,000 
per year for labor. The work was done by Italians, a race 
with a genius for rag- and bone-picking and for sub 
sisting on rejected trifles of food. These Italians were 
observed by others to have a job which offered great 
advantages. Competition arose and continued until, in 
1894, when the amount of material delivered at the 
dumps had greatly increased, the city received for the 
scow-trimming privilege about $50,000 worth of labor 
free and more than $90,000 in cash. 

The most important item of the scow-trimming re 
covery then consisted of bones and grease. The paper 




dumped with the refuse of the streets and ashes became 
so soiled and wet as to have but little value, and the 


value of even the rags was much reduced by their dirty 
condition. For nearly a year past we have been collect 
ing paper and rubbish separately, so that rags and paper 



are much cleaner; and although fully $50,000 worth of 
bones and fat are now withdrawn in the garbage which 
is sent to the Utilization Works, the city is still receiving 
at the rate of about $50,000 for what is left. As paper 
and rubbish are still dumped upon the ash-scows, much 


valuable material is lost, and much of what is recovered 
is more or less soiled. 

The system has already been well inaugurated of 
transporting the paper and rubbish to picking-yards, 
where it arrives in clean condition, and where all of 
value that it contains can easily be sorted out, the mere 
refuse being either burned or, if not combustible, dumped 
on the scows. 


The yard that has been longest in use is that at No. 
612 East Eighteenth Street. It contains large sheds for 
the storing of material, pens for bottles and for tin cans, 
a " treasury " for the safe-keeping of metals and other 
trifles of value which would tempt pilferers, and the 


machinery that is used in connection with the work. 
This consists mainly of a traveling belt about eighty feet 
long, which rises out of a shallow pit into which the con 
tents of the carts are thrown, and runs horizontally for 
fifty feet between two rows of workmen, each engaged in 
selecting the kind of paper, rag, or other material to 



which he is assigned. The belt rises on a steep angle to 
the mouth of the furnace, where straw, excelsior, bits of 
wood, and worthless paper are burned. In connection 
with this furnace there is a large steam-boiler, which 


furnishes the power for moving the belt, and from which, 
thus far, a great amount of steam under high pressure 
is going to waste. When means are found for utilizing 
this waste steam still further economy will result. This 
yard receives daily about fifty large loads of all manner 
of refuse which householders, storekeepers, manufac- 


turers, and others wish to get rid of. The average sales 
per week during the months of July and August were as 

Paper $128.40 

Rags 89.37 

Other materials 43.47 

Total . . . $261.24 

This is for the collections of ten carts of the one hun 
dred and fifty in use. It is only a general indication. 
The outlook is that the returns will increase. 

The second yard is being provided with a belt and 
small engine only, all wastes being sent to the scows, and 
no account being taken of steam. Still another yard is 
being arranged, where a vastly greater burning capacity 
will be furnished, and where it is thought that two hun 
dred loads per day can be handled. 

The experiments with these three yards will enable us 
to determine which is the more advantageous method to 
be adopted, and especially to decide the very important 
question as to whether this work shall be done in a large 
number of yards within the city, or whether all of the 
paper and rubbish shall be transported to Riker's Island, 
there to be picked over and sorted in one large establish 
ment, for which ample space can be furnished. The sav 
ing in rent would be very great, and the present indica 
tions are that this and the simpler and more economi 
cal administration will outweigh the cost of transpor 

It is impossible to say what will be the amount to be 
received by the city as a profit on these operations; but 
there are already indications that the easy facility 


afforded to householders to get rid of all manner of 
wastes is leading them to discard more and more of 
things that they have hitherto thought worth saving. 
That the profit will greatly exceed any amount hitherto 
received for scow-trimming is already demonstrated. 



WHEN the Department of Street-Cleaning came 
under its present administration the plant 
was inadequate and in bad condition. This 
was particularly the case in the matter of carts, harness, 
and horses. Of the first two items many were out of 
repair and showed a lack of systematic care. A great 
many of the horses were low in flesh and of a class un 
fitted for their peculiar work, being large and long-legged. 
Such animals, when once they get reduced, are very diffi 
cult to recuperate. A new standard was determined on, 
and the horses purchased thereafter were typical cart 
horses, and of such uniform excellence that the expert 
judges who have passed on the merits of the various 
stables at the annual parades have stated that it would 
seem hardly possible to assemble together such an even 

The stables were deficient in the necessary supplies, 
and were run in a very loose way as to discipline. They 
were the resort of the local politicians, and the foremen 



were at the mercy of these. If an inefficient employee 
was laid off or discharged, all he had to do was to go to 
his ward leader to get himself reinstated. This was a 
serious drawback to discipline, for the stable foremen 
could not do what was proper without prejudicing their 
own positions. The very first thing, then, that was done 
was to change the existing conditions entirely. Every 
one in the service, from the highest to the lowest, was 
given to understand that his position implied work ac 
cording to his responsibility; that so long as he did that 
work his personal opinions and politics would not be con 
sidered; and that the stables must no longer be a lounging- 
place for outsiders. A system of day-and-night inspection 
was inaugurated, and at inopportune periods the higher 
officials would drop down on a stable, often discovering 
some one absent or neglecting his duty. 

After preliminary warning, men who were proved to 
be persistent offenders were discharged and their places 
filled by better men. The stable employees soon found 
that all they had to do was to attend to business. New 
material was obtained as fast as possible, that on hand 
was repaired, a sufficient force was placed in each stable 
to keep it in order, and a spirit of rivalry was encouraged. 
The result is that to-day, on the testimony of some of the 
largest and most experienced liverymen, there are no 
public stables run in a more systematic manner than 
those of the department, nor kept in as fine condition. 
One of these gentlemen went so far as to say that he 
doubted if there were ten private stables in New York 
which, in all the essentials of stable management, could 
excel them. 

This result has been secured by the rigid application of 
systematic rules and, furthermore, by the encouragement 


of special prizes of banners, etc., given to those stables 
which, both in the care of the equipment and the condition 
of the animals, exhibited the most merit. After the first 
annual parade, which demonstrated so markedly the con 
dition of the department, it was resolved to send a cart 
from each stable for exhibition at the National Horse- 
show. This innovation at such a fashionable function 
was a decided success and added much to the increasing 
popularity of the department, besides greatly raising the 
esprit de corps of the drivers. 

This, in general terms, shows how the condition and 
morale of the stable department have been raised. There 
are nine stables in all, situated in convenient parts of the 
city, near the water-front, and from Hamilton Street on 
the south to One Hundred and Fifty-second Street on the 
north. One of these, Stable A, in addition to being a 
stable is the great depot and repair-shop. To it all new 
stock is brought, horse-dealers bring their horses for ex 
amination and purchase, and broken carts, etc., are sent 
for repair. It is a very busy place. The other eight 
are purely stables, and only the ordinary harness-repair 
ing and simple work on vehicles are done at them. 

All horses are shod by contract, at a fixed price per 
month. There are three veterinary surgeons on duty 
daily. The assistant superintendent has general charge 
of all stables and of the carting force. He is responsi 
ble for the condition of the men and of the stock; he is 
also charged with the carrying out of all disciplinary rules 
affecting drivers. His immediate assistant is the super 
intendent of stables, whose duties are such as are implied 
by his title. A regular system of reports and returns, 
affecting both the personnel and the material, has been 
inaugurated, similar in all its essential details to that of 


the army. Each stable has a foreman, an assistant fore 
man, clerks, and hostlers. In addition thereto there are 
various stablemen to cleanse harness and carts and to 
do the usual work. The number of these depends on the 
capacity of the stable, i. e., so many horses to the man. 
This force takes entire care of the horses. 

The ash-cart-driver is not required to do anything 
more than to hitch up his team and unhitch it when he 
returns. The morning hitching up is very rapidly and 
systematically done. The carts are grouped in the stable 
according to the sections they work in. When the bell 
sounds for roll-call, drivers fall in by sections, immedi 
ately proceed to the stall floors, harness and lead their 
horses to the cart floor, hitch up, and start off for daily 
work. Frequently the whole force of a large stable has 
been timed as getting out to work in ten minutes or 
thereabouts. After the drivers leave the stable, and until 
they return thereto at night, they are controlled by the 
district superintendents. Their work is of a variable na 
ture. On the outset they remove a portion of the ashes, 
for their second load they take away the garbage, and on 
the last round the street-sweepings. It depends a good 
deal on circumstances as to how long they are employed 
during the day, but no driver may return to the stable 
until he has cleaned up his route. Nor must he mix one 
of the above classes of material with another. At noon 
he has a lay-off or swing of from one and a half to two 
hours. During the day the various officers are moving 
about the streets, and when a driver is found derelict in 
his duty he is reported to the main office for proper pun 
ishment. A specific code of rules governs him, and he 
knows exactly what to expect for violation thereof. The 
lot of a driver is hard as compared with that of a sweeper. 


The latter simply sweeps the street, collects the rubbish 
in bags or piles, and his work is done. The driver has to 
collect all this refuse ; has to have animated conflicts with 
janitors, servants, saloon-keepers, etc., as to whether their 
garbage is garbage or their refuse material " proper"; and, 
finally, has to satisfy exacting foremen by not loitering, and 
critical dump-inspectors as to the character of his loads. 
Then, he must not enter a saloon, nor trot his horse, nor 
do many things. For all that, the position of driver is 
quite popular. It is wider and more varied in its ex 
periences than that of the staid and respectable sweeper, 
who is confined to one restricted locality. A driver of a 
convivial or amatory turn has hazardous opportunities to 
get a surreptitious drink, and can occasionally indulge in 
a brief flirtation. 

There are two classes of drivers regulars and extras. 
The latter are eligible for work only when a regular is 
absent or sick. There are generally about twenty or 
thirty extra drivers on the list at each stable available 
to be called on. Drivers are uniformed in brown canvas 
suits, with brown helmets. It would be impossible for 
them to use the white uniform of the sweeper. The 
same general system as regards the organization and 
discipline above noted of the stable force obtains with 
the sweeper force and the mechanic force. 

To carry on the operations of a department which has 
arisen to such importance and which deals with so many 
problems requires a variety of employees, each of special 
aptitude, from the sweeper who manipulates his broom 
and the driver who handles his ash-can in a workmanlike 
manner, up to the scientific expert who deals with ab 
struse sanitary problems. All have their specified work, 
and all are held to a rigid accountability in the perform- 


ance of it; and the commissioner holds himself to as 
rigid an accountability as any. 

Furthermore, the carrying on of this business neces 
sitates a large plant stables, repair-shops, section 
stations, as well as incumbrance-yards where derelict 
trucks are impounded, yards where the refuse is sorted 
for sale, dumps, scows, etc. Incidental to all this there 
must be special men employed as inspectors to keep a 
watchful eye on everything, and whose timely reports 
may be considered as the lubricant which makes all the 
various wheels turn arcund in unison. 

The department is divided into five great divisions: (1) 
the sweepers, under the control of the general superin 
tendent; (2) the stables and drivers, under the assistant 
superintendent; (3) final disposition, under the superin 
tendent of final disposition; (4) the mechanics, under the 
master mechanic; and (5) the clerical force, under the 
chief clerk. The sweepers are directly under the control 
of district superintendents and section foremen. The 
drivers are under the same control while out on their 
work. The city is divided into eleven districts and sixty- 
five sections. Each two sections have their section sta 
tion, where the sweepers assemble in the morning to be 
sent to work, and where the brooms, watering-cans, etc., 
are kept. There the men leave their ordinary clothes 
and assume their white uniforms. These section stations 
are kept in fine order, and are a vast improvement over 
the old assembling-places at the street-corner. 

The superintendent of final disposition controls the 
movements of the various dump-boats and the final dis 
position of all the refuse. This in winter is sometimes 
a very serious problem. 

Lastly, there is the snow-inspector, a district superin 
tendent detailed for the winter who directs the removal 



of snow and ice and supervises the contractors who 
attend to it. 

The clerical force at the main office is under the 
direction of the chief clerk. Its employees come from 
the civil service, and are engaged in various classes of 
clerical work and the preparation of statistics. This 
bureau, while not impressing itself so markedly on the 
general public as those above cited, is a very important 
one, as may well be imagined. 

Having thus given a general idea of the various de 
partments and duties, it is only necessary to recapitulate 
in the tabular form all the information as to personnel 
and material in the main items to enable the reader to 
understand what an important department this is; and it 
here follows: 




Officers Men 



Commissioner . . $6000 Y. 


Deputy commissioner 4000 Y. 


Chief clerk . . 3600 Y. 


Gen. superintendent . 3000 Y. 


Asst. superintendent 2500 Y. 


Supt. of stables . . 2000 Y. 
Supt. of final dispo- ? 2 QOO Y 
sition . 5 


Assistant supt. of ? -, ^a v 
final disposition 5 


Master mechanic . 1800 Y. 


Private secretary . 1500 Y. 


Time-collectors . IL'OOY. 


Total miscellaneous . 


Controls everything. 

< Assists commissioner ; makes 
\ purchases. 

Charge of clerical force. 
C General executive ; charge 
\ particularly of sweepers. 
C General executive ; charge of 
\ stables and drivers. 

Special supervision of stables. 

< Charge of dumps, scows, and 
\ refuse. 

Assistant to above. 

( Charge of mechanics, con- 
\ struction, repairs. 
C Charge of commissioner's cor- 
\ respondence, etc. 

< Collect time-books ; also spe- 
l cial inspectors. 





Month Officers Men 


General bookkeeper . $1750 Y. 1 

Assistant . . 900 Y. 

Supt. pay-rolls . . 1750 Y. 1 

Assistants . . 900 Y. 

Application and? lcnnv 

registration clerk 3 JU Y ' 

Incumbrance and \ onnn ^ 

contract clerk f zuuu Y< 

Stenographers and$ ^60 \ 

type-writers . } 1500 

Complaint clerk 

. 1000 Y. 1 

Property clerk . 

. 1800 Y. 1 

General clerks . 

C 1500 ) 

< to y.( 

( 900 ) 


Total clerical force . . 6 


j Bookkeeping. 
5 | Pay-rolls. 

< Registration of applications 
\ for position. 

C Charge of seizures made for 

< incumbrance, and of con- 
( tracts and legal business. 

4 Duties indicated. 

Attends to complaints. 
Charge of property stored at 
main depot. 

Clerical work. 


District superinten- ? 
dents . . 5 

1800 Y. 


Section foremen 

1200 Y. 


Assistant section ) 
foremen . . 

900 Y. 


Regular sweepers < 

600 Y. ) 

660 Y. > 
720 Y. > 


Total sweeper force 
Extra sweepers . . 2.00 D. 

Charge of districts. 
Charge of sections. 
Assist in charge of sections, 

detailed men, and various 


Sweeping streets. 

2 19 J Employed temporarily to re- 
\ place absent sweepers. 


Stable foremen . 

1300 Y. 


Assistant stable C 
foremen . . J 

1000 Y. 


Hostlers . 

720 Y. 


Regular drivers < 

600 Y. > 
660 Y. V 
720 Y. $ 



Total driver force 


20 985 

Extra drivers , t 

2,00 D. 



Charge of stables. 

Assist in charge of stables. 

Grooming horses, etc. 
( Driving carts, collecting ref 
use, and detailed work in 
stables and elsewhere. 

040 Employed temporarily to re- 
l place absent drivers, 








Officers I 




. $1200 Y. 


Assistant dump-in- \ 
spectors . . j 

900 Y. 



Tug- and scow -in- i 
spectors . . ! 

> 1200 Y. 



. 110 M. 


Mates . 

60 M. 


Engineers . 

. 100 M. 



60 M. 



40 M. 



40 M. 


Cooks . 

. 30 M. 



Charge of dumps. 

Assist in charge of dumps. 

Charge of tugs and scows. 
On board of Cinderella. 

Total final disposition 

Mechanics . . s 
Mechanics' helpers 5 

Total mechanic force . 

2.50 D. ) 

3.25 D. 
2.00 D. 

General mechanical work. 
General mechanical work. 



Miscellaneous . 
Clerical force . 
Sweeper force . . 
Driver force . 
Final disposition 
Mechanic force 

Grand total 

Officers and men 

Extra sweepers and drivers 

All told, regulars and extras 








163 2869 



Bicycles . . . . . . ... 75 

Brooms . . . .-/'-''"..'. . ^ . - . . . 5,141 
, , . . t . , . 30,769 





Bag-carriers 1,355 

Cans, ash- 681 

Cans, sprinkling- 2,007 

Cans, paper-, fruit- 83 

Carts, hoky-poky 20 

Hose 3,138 

Receptacles 207 

Incumbrance-yards 2 

Section stations . 41 


Ash-carts 875 

Ash-trucks 6 

Wagons 13 

Light wagons 31 

Sweeping-machines 18 

Water-carts 33 

Paper-carts 150 

Trucks 10 

Snow-plows, etc. 20 

Hose-carts 10 

Harness sets 1,31.6 

Horses 945 

Stables 9 


Dumps 14 

Barney dump-boats, hired . 13, 

Delehanty dump-boat 1 

Scows 22 

Crematory 1 

Stake-boat 1 

Tug-boats, hired 4 

H. C. C. 



THE removal of snow has always presented one 
of the most vexatious problems confronting the 
various administrations. The removal of " new- 
fallen snow from leading thoroughfares and such other 
streets and avenues as may be found practicable" is a 
duty made obligatory upon the commissioner by law, and 
with each year the moral obligation to the vast traffic 
interests of congested Manhattan Island becomes more 
insistent. Of late, also, the question of the health of the 
community has entered with great force into any consid 
eration of the subject. With the crowding of the im 
mense tenement population into that human beehive, the 
East Side, there has been an actual bulging out from the 
houses to the now clean asphalt streets. Whether it be 
winter or summer, the people must have this additional 
room opened up for them, and a delay in the removal of 
the almost knee-deep snow and befouled slush is at the 
cost of much sickness, and probably many lives, each 



With such an uncertain quantity to estimate upon as 
the yearly snowfall, the annual appropriations for this 
important part of the department's work have been 
nominal sums of $25,000 or $40,000. Between the years 
1882 and 1892 the annual expenditure was never more 
than $45,000, and averaged nearly within the $25,000 
allowed. In the past three years, with the enormous 
increase in the amounts of snow removed, there has 
necessarily been a much larger annual expenditure. 
Any sums needed beyond the yearly appropriation are 
transferred from other department accounts by the 
Board of Estimate and Apportionment, and are after 
ward replaced by the sale of revenue bonds. 

In the small amounts of snow removed each winter up 
to January, 1895, the work was performed mainly with 
the regular department force, hiring additional laborers 
and carts when the fall was a heavy one. 

The quantity of street area opened to traffic by this 
method was necessarily insignificant, and was centered 
in a small portion of the down-town districts. Here 
nearly all the sweepers from the various sections through 
out the entire city were concentrated into piling and load 
ing gangs, and the department carts in use in the hauling 
of ashes and garbage during the day were sent, with fresh 
horses and drivers, to the snow district for the night duty, 
which constituted nearly all the work. 

In the early months of 1895 the removal by day's work 
was continued, but, for the first time, each of the eleven 
districts did its own work, and its head was made respon 
sible for the hiring of most of the additional carts and 
laborers required. In this the first year of the present 
administration the work was extended materially, and the 
mileage of streets cleared increased in all parts of the 


city, with the securing of many more hired carts than 
were ever used before. 

In the autumn of 1895-96 the first proposal for the re 
moval of snow and ice by contract was advertised for, and 
the contract was let to the only bidder, Herbert Tate, at 
56 cents per cubic yard. No snow was removed under 
this agreement until after the first of the year 1896. 

With the beginning of 1896 a new era began. Quan 
tities hitherto undreamed of were removed in every 
storm, and the mileage of cleared streets increased enor 
mously. The work was done by the contractor in the 
manner and at the places ordered, and a temporary 
bureau was organized and placed in entire charge of the 
burdensome details that had so long hampered the regu 
lar department work. Because of the letting of the 
contract in cubic yards, it was necessary to arrange for 
inspectors at the loading- and dumping-places, to tally 
the loads and to protect the city's interests. All cartmen 
had to get their loads from the regular loading-places 
and dump them into the river before receiving the token 
of the city's indebtedness. Under the contract system, 
the department was relieved entirely of the care and 
labor incident to the hiring of carts and men, keeping 
their time and making up pay-rolls; and the vexatious 
delays in payment of the emergency forces formerly 
attending the removal of snow were obviated altogether. 
The contractor, by paying both cartmen and shovelers 
promptly after each storm, made possible the removal of 
the present extraordinary and constantly increasing daily 
totals. The department laborers were retained in their 
own sections upon the necessary cross-walk and gutter 
work, and the interruptions to the regular department 
routine were reduced to a minimum. Snow removal be- 


came a mere matter of dollars and cents. Much better 
results were secured (by the contractor paying by the 
load) from the limited supply of vehicles at the disposal 
of the city. The drivers, instead of hauling eight or ten 
loads for a day's work and then leaving, as formerly, 
worked continuously and as rapidly as their horses could 
be made to move, in the endeavor to get in as many loads, 
and therefore secure as much money, as possible. 

In the autumn of 1896 there were three bidders for 
the contract for the season of 1896-97, and it was let to 
G. M. Furman for 42 cents per cubic yard. It will be 
seen from the table below that the amount of snow re 
moved under this contract is considerably more than 
the totals for both of the two previous winters. 

The table shows for every winter the official snowfall 
in inches, the number of loads removed by the depart 
ment forces and by the respective contractors, the totals 
for each winter, with the total cost and the cost per load. 
(A load of snow is taken as one and one half cubic yards.) 
The second column comprises the day's work of the de 
partment in every winter, and in addition the removal by 
Contractor Tate for 1895-96 and by Contractor Furman 
for 1896-97. The third column shows the amounts re 
moved by the contractors who, from 1882 to 1888 inclu 
sive, had entire charge of the street-cleaning work below 
Fourteenth Street, and were compelled by their contract 
to cart away snow without extra cost to the city. In the 
fourth column likewise is given, wherever the separation 
could be made, the number of loads removed each winter 
after that of 1885-86 by Holland & Co., who cart away 
all the snow on Broadway from Bowling Green to Park 
Place for the Metropolitan Street-Railway Company, with 
out expense to the city. 



Neither of these columns, then, the third and fourth, 
although included in the totals by winters, enters into the 
costs of removal, which are made up solely from the bills 
presented for the work done by department forces and 
Contractors Tate and Furman, as shown in the second 
column. These costs, also, are all exclusive of super 
vision by the department inspectors, foremen, and super 





















. . 



. . 













































rS gg 








">> 00 







^ * 







,2 J> 

. . 







cS <g 

. . 




1894-95, up to I 
Jaimary 15 . \ 








1894-95, after 1 
January 15 . \ 























It will be noted that in the above table the winter of 
1894-95 is divided into two portions the one before 
January 15, 1895, and the other after that date. In the 
summary of the table these portions, for the sake of 

* These figures are the only ones found in the ' ' City Record, ' ' but the total 
in loads is 5137 less than the number given in Commissioner Coleman's "Re 
view of the Operations of the Department," ptiblished in 1889. 


convenience, are each called a half of a winter. The 
summary is shown below, and is a comparison of the 
period from 1881 to 1895, under previous commissioners, 
with that of the present administration since its inaugu 
ration on January 15, 1895. It gives the totals by day's 
work and by contract, and the entire amounts of snow 
removed for the periods mentioned. The average num 
ber of loads for a winter in each period, with their com 
parative percentages, the total cost of removal, and the 
average cost per cart-load, are also shown. 

MS I! 1 It $ I* 

-X -sl =1 I ll I 

! :!!! ^ir 1! & If S 

* *|J! %! s si 

llil 1-^2 6 3 

g-SS l*aS ^^ > -355 

i5 *5 H ^ M 
From winter 1881- " 

1895 ' 7 " 596 ' 625 153,542 750,167 55,568 11.2 $453,105.79 $.759 

January 15, 1895, ) 

to spring, 1897, V 1,233,412 6,5311,239,943495,977 100 882,980.88 .716 
equals 2| winters \ 

It will be seen from this summary that the amount of 
snow removed in the two complete winters, 1895-96 and 
1896-97, and in the portion of 1894-95, is 1,239,943 loads 
(one and one half cubic yards each), almost twice the en 
tire amount removed in the thirteen full winters and the 
portion of another before January 15, 1895. The aver 
age per winter for the present administration is 495,977 
loads, against 55,568 loads for the winters preceding. 
The total cost of removal under all the former commis 
sioners is $453,105.79, or an average cost per load re 
moved of $.759; under the present administration it has 


been $882,980.88, or an average cost per load of $.716. 
This is over four cents lower than the average for all the 
previous administrations, and would be much smaller 
were it not for the fact that the first contract price, 56 
cents per cubic yard, or 84 cents per load, was high 
only one contractor risking an entirely untried and ven 
turesome experiment even at that figure. Another 
reason for the increased cost in 1895-96 is that in that 
winter the wages of the large sweeping force engaged 
in the cleaning of cross-walks, opening of gutters, etc., 
were charged to the snow and ice account. This has not 
been done in 1896-97. 

Another and most important point that should be 
borne in mind in the consideration of any question of 
cost is the well-known fact that the standard of the size 
of loads set in the years 1895, 1896, and 1897 is far more 
exacting than was ever attempted before. 

As showing most markedly the great increase in the 
amount of snow removed, the following paragraph from 
the report of Commissioner Coleman for 1888 is sub 
joined : 

" A snow-storm of unequaled severity broke over this 
city on March 12, 1888. By reason of its intensity and 
violence it is popularly known and referred to as the 
* blizzard.' The amount of the snowfall was unpre 
cedented, being, according to official figures, twenty- 
two inches, and threatened to affect the business of the 
city to an alarming extent. To meet this emergency 
the physical and financial resources of this department 
were fully tested. The appropriation for the removal of 
snow and ice for the whole year was only $25,000, and 
the greater part of that sum had already been expended 
for work done in January and February. But this de- 



partment made no delay in addressing itself to the great 
task which so unexpectedly confronted it, and worked so 
rapidly that the threatened blockade of the streets and 
stoppage of business were soon averted. Traffic in the 
commercial districts, which had been temporarily sus 
pended, was speedily resumed, and before the expiration 
of one week almost all traces of the memorable snow 
storm had been practically effaced from the streets." 

The total amount of snow actually removed during the 
work on this huge storm, as given by the same report, is 
40,542 loads. This includes the amount removed with 
the department forces by day's work, the amount re 
moved by the contractors below Fourteenth Street, 
and the amount carted away by the contractor hauling 
for the Metropolitan Street-Railway Company on lower 

In every storm of the past winter there were well over 
200,000 loads, and on one day alone 55,773 loads were 
hauled, exclusive of railroad work and the lower Broad 
way contract. This is 15,000 more than the total for 
the entire week's work on the " blizzard." An average 
of the ten largest days' work for the winter of 1896-97 
*gives 40,534 loads. 

A comparison of the mileage of streets cleared per 

TO 1895. MILEAGE, 22.80. 


storm is also of interest. The accompanying map of the 
city shows the streets, in full black, cleared during the 
work upon an average storm in the period preceding this 
administration. The mileage is 22.80 a fair, if not too 
large, average for the storms of varying depth and 
under different commissioners. 

The second map here given shows the streets (marked 
in full black, as before) cleared in the storm from Febru- 

MILEAGE, 144.42. 

ary 12 to February 16, inclusive, 1897. Virtually all the 
street area below Houston Street received attention. 
About one half of the streets between Houston and 
Fifty-ninth streets were cleared of snow, and above Fifty- 
ninth Street the main traffic thoroughfares and some of 
the crowded tenement streets. The mileage of this 
storm is 144.416, one and one half miles less than the 
average for the winter, the snowfalls in which were all 
unusually heavy. 

A very marked difference between the two maps will 
be noticed in looking at the congested tenement district 
east of the Bowery and south of Houston Street. This 
was never touched formerly, while now it is virtually 
entirely cleared in every storm. 

A most important feature of the snow work has been 


the agreements made with the street-railways. Under 
an opinion from the counsel to the corporation, the com 
missioner of street-cleaning has been authorized to enter 
into agreements with the various street-railways in the 
city for the amount of snow removal to be performed by 
them in lieu of that required under the provisions of 
Section 271, Chapter VIII., Revised Ordinances. This 
ordinance demands, upon the part of the companies, 
that they cart away all snow thrown off their tracks by 
their plows or sweeping-machines. A definite arrange 
ment has been made with all the companies, each assum 
ing the entire responsibility for a certain fixed street 
area, from curb to curb, instead of only on its tracks, 
while the city clears the snow from as much of the re 
mainder of the streets through which the company's 
tracks pass as is deemed practicable and necessary. 

Before the inauguration of the present system of re 
moval by contract the procedure was, as already ex 
plained, to hire extra carts and laborers by the day to 
assist the regular department force. Permission had first 
to be obtained from the mayor to hire such additional help, 
and it had to be renewed at the expiration of every three 
days. Before the winter of 1894-95 the hiring of these 
emergency laborers was done indirectly through certain 
bosses or-" padrones," controlling a large number of men 
each. The padrone received from the city $1.50 per day 
for each laborer furnished, and retained from this sum a 
small percentage as compensation for his own services. 
He paid his men daily upon the completion of their work, 
although the city's payment in wages was never received 
by him until some time after each storm. No matter 
how sudden the call for laborers, they were furnished at 


once and in any number desired. Moreover, they were 
all picked men, young and robust, and accustomed to 
the heaviest manual labor. They were chosen without 
reference to their citizenship. 

Strong pressure was brought to bear upon the State 
legislature of 1894 by the labor-unions of this city, and 
a law was passed amending the Consolidation Act so 
that any extra laborers thereafter to be employed by the 
Department of Street-Cleaning in the removal of snow, 
as well as in the regular department work, were to be 
American citizens and residents of the city. They were 
to be paid not less than $2 for eight hours' work, and 
were to be chosen only from an eligible list of men pass 
ing a certain physical examination. 

Thus the opening of the winter of 1894-95 saw the 
padrone system done away with, an increase of one third 
in the wages to be paid for labor, and the initiation of 
complicated and burdensome machinery for the hiring 
and paying of the emergency forces. 

The first two storms after the present commissioner 
took office were less than two inches in depth and were 
followed by warm weather. The department forces and 
their hired helpers worked rapidly, but very much more 
snow melted off than was removed. Despite this patent 
fact, a vast amount of unintelligent praise and unde 
served encomium hailed these first efforts at snow re 
moval. These thoughtless paeans of the press were 
changed into equally hasty and unfounded criticisms after 
the storm of February 7 and 8 a fall of five and a half 
inches, which was followed almost immediately by un 
usually severe and prolonged cold weather. The snow 
obstinately remained on the streets, and the department 
worked continuously for fourteen days in its removal. 


During that time 128.59 miles of streets in different 
sections of the city were cleared. 

The department was deluged with suggestions, ranging 
from the flushing of the streets (with the thermometer 
hovering about zero!) to the use of melting-machines. 
A number of experiments were conducted with different 
appliances, but only two the one with a naphtha melt 
ing-machine and the other with a steam-pitheld out 
any hopes of even moderate value. In the latter, a trial 
concrete vault, eight by two by five feet, with a steam- 
pipe at the bottom, kept covered always with a foot of 
water, and with an outlet connection to the nearest 
sewer, was constructed on Franklin Street. Steam was 
supplied by means of an ordinary boiler mounted on a 
four-wheel truck alongside the pit. The experiments 
were a practical failure the snow shoveled into the pit 
melting very slowly, and the pit soon becoming choked 
with dirt. 

As regards the record of the department under the 
new administration, it more than held its own in the 
eyes of every fair-minded citizen when figures were ad 
duced showing that the various commissioners during 
the five years beginning with 1889 had removed 221,569 
loads of snow, at a total cost of $178,737.34, while there 
were removed, in the five weeks under the new direction, 
253,481 loads, at a cost of $173,839.20. In this short 
time, then, more snow was removed, at less expense, 
than in the entire five years prior to the present admin 
istration, notwithstanding the fact that the department 
had to pay $2 per day for labor, where former commis 
sioners secured theirs for $1.50. 

In a communication at the time the commissioner sum 
marized the whole deplorable situation in the statement 


that the delay in paying " lay entirely at the door of or 
ganized labor," and showed how much better off the men 
would be under the contract system, with their some 
what smaller daily wage paid immediately. Many of the 
shovelers worked only one day, earning $2, and the 
average for all men working on the last four days of 
the January storm was only $3.26. For this pittance 
the 5028 men who had earned it had to stand around 
in the cold or wet, day after day, to get their money. 
Counting the time spent in coming for their pay, these 
innocent victims of an iniquitous law earned not more 
than 50 cents per day. Instead of receiving 50 cents 
per day more than their services were worth in the open 
market, they actually earned only one third of their old 
wages. In other words, the department appeared, as 
compared with the former padrone, in the light of an 
unwieldy concern, whose cumbersome machinery and 
necessary red tape caused its temporary employees to 
work fewer hours than either they or the city desired, 
and not only to receive far less money, but to be com 
pelled to wait for it. 

To one who remarks the ease with which over 50,000 
loads of snow are now removed daily under the contract 
system, it is remarkable to look back upon the strain 
under which all officials, from the highest to the lowest, 
passed the entire winter only two years ago. From the 
18th of January to and including the 21st of February, 
the work of snow removal was prosecuted with but the 
intermission of seven days when no outside work was 
done. The district superintendents and section foremen 
worked on snow removal during the night and until three 
or four o'clock in the morning, and then reported bright 
and early the next day for the regular work of removing 


ashes and garbage, the supervision of sweepers, etc. 
This unceasing toil was kept up day after day, and even 
the clerical force worked twice its usual hours. Certain 
it is that, since the relief afforded by the contract sys 
tem, the department will never again see such a severe 
and long-continued strain, and in the future most of its 
officials, as was the case during the winter just past, 
will be left free to attend to the routine work normally 
heavy in every winter. 

In the event of a snowfall the contractor has ample 
time to get his immense organization in readiness for the 
commissioner's order to begin removal. Usually this is 
not given until the snow ceases, unless the storm is seen 
to be a heavy one. 

When the order is received, operations are begun with 
in a few hours in every district from the Battery to north 
of the Harlem River, and almost simultaneously in each. 
The contractor's trusted subordinates collect large num 
bers of the unemployed at certain fixed meeting-places, 
and gangs are formed of pilers and shovelers. Owners 
of carts and wagons in any number have already been 
told at the beginning of the season where to report in 
the event of a snow-storm, and at any time during the 
removal a man with a vehicle of the required capacity is 
put to work immediately upon application. There are 
always more shovelers applying than can be given em 
ployment, but never enough carts. 

The points at which the work is begun are fixed, and 
the schedules remain the same for each storm. These 
points are chosen as far as possible with regard to their 
relative importance, but with due consideration to the 
practical problem of keeping the gangs well separated, 
at equal distances from the river-front, and in such posi- 


tions that the hauling to the dumps may be fairly equal 
ized according to the capacity of each. 

At each loading-place is a department foreman, who, 
after a cart has been loaded from the street in which the 
work is being conducted, and if the load is satisfactory 
in size, gives to the driver a coupon signifying that the 
snow has been taken under department supervision. At 
the piers used as dumping-points the loaded carts move 
out to the extreme end along one side; the drivers dump 
their snow over the string-pieces into the river, and sub 
mit to the inspection of department subordinates, who 
see that the carts are entirely emptied, that no snow is 
dumped on the pier, and that no false loads are allowed 
for. The empty carts return down the pier in single file 
on the opposite side, passing a department foreman at 
the street end, who receives from the driver his loading 
coupon, and hands to a representative of the contractor, 
standing by his side, an equivalent brass check, properly 
stamped and numbered, as a tally of the city's indebted 
ness. The driver then receives a voucher from the con 
tractor's representative, showing that a load of snow has 
been regularly hauled and dumped, and that pay for the 
same will be given upon presentation of the voucher at 
the contractor's main offices. This is negotiable, as is 
also the similar voucher for hours of labor performed 
which is handed to each shoveler at the close of his 
day's work; and both are honored, to the bearer upon 
demand, at any time afterward. 

The number of brass checks turned in each day by the 
various representatives of the contractor is credited to 
his account by the snow-inspector, and constitutes the 
basis of the bills presented by him for cubic yards 


The above outline will serve to indicate general 
methods, and it is not necessary to describe the num 
berless details connected with the administration of the 
work, all of which, however, are felt very forcibly in the 
labor incident to the removal of over 75,000 cubic yards 
and the clearing of 30 miles of streets daily. 

After the first storm of the winter, for which the de 
partment and the contractor were both unprepared, the 
system of inspection was practically perfect. The load 
ing and dump foremen were exceedingly strict, and the 
loads hauled were much larger than ever before. The 
reports of the various inspectors and detectives were 
most encouraging, and not a suspicion of dishonesty at 
tached itself to any of the transactions incident to the 
loading and dumping. The controller's representative 
was given every facility in his inspections in all the 
districts, and expressed the highest appreciation of 
the manner in which the city's interests were being 

A number of experiments for the purpose of devising 
new methods, reducing costs, etc., were conducted dur 
ing the winter. Plows and the Hudson River ice-scrapers 
(for asphalt streets) were used freely wherever the re 
sults warranted. In heavy storms the plows serve to 
clear a passageway in the street until removal can be 
secured. The scrapers are of most service in piling 
ahead of the loading gangs in light falls. 

The attempts to use sweeping-machines, with specially 
prepared brooms, proved unqualified failures, even when 
begun as soon as the snow commenced falling. 

On Madison Avenue, from Twenty-third to Forty-sec 
ond streets, the snow was scraped to the middle of the 
street and piled in long ridges, with an opening in the 


center of each block for vehicles. It was then allowed 
to remain, with the hope that it would disappear through 
natural causes. It was found, however, that the alter 
nate melting and freezing caused thin runnels of ice 
from the ridge to the- curb on each side, which made the 
street almost impassable late in the afternoon and at 
night, and the department was forced to cart away the 

On the Boulevard from Fifty-ninth to One Hundred and 
Twelfth streets, in the last two storms, the snow was not 
removed, but was pushed from the parkway in the center 
toward the curb on each side and there piled into ridges. 
The street was thus opened to traffic promptly and with 
very little expense. No ice formed, as in the Madison 
Avenue experiment, because the drainage was not across 
the cleared pavement. The only disadvantage of the 
method was perceived some time after each storm, when 
the snow had melted from all the neighboring streets and 
the Boulevard was left with a black, dirty ridge on either 
side for its entire length. This was remedied by scatter 
ing out. 

In the last storm of the season the rapidity with which 
the Boulevard was opened up to bicycling and traffic by 
this method is deserving of mention. Although the 
snow did not cease falling until Friday night, and the 
storm was a heavy one, by Sunday morning the entire 
length of this popular thoroughfare from Fifty-ninth 
Street to One Hundred and Twelfth Street was perfectly 
clean and dry, and was traversed by hundreds of bicycles 
and carriages. 

On all the asphalt and some of the stone streets 
cleared the contractor used the steel-pan scrapers (for 
asphalt sweeping) behind his carts, scraping the thin, 


dirty residue into piles, which were afterward removed. 
Their use was productive of a very thorough and speedy 
final clearing. 

Two types of snow-melting machines were given care 
ful trials during the past winter. Of these the one using 
coke as fuel proved unsatisfactory; but the naphtha- 
burning machine showed a fair efficiency in all three 
storms, and was able, in the last two, to clear a long city 
block in from eight to ten hours. The cost of running 
is given by the superintendent of the company control 
ling the machine as $10.15 per hour, which, from the 
reports of the department inspector in charge of the ex 
periments, is believed to be a fair estimate. With some 
improvements added since the last storm, the company 
claims a cost of $8 or less per hour, and an efficiency of 
a cubic yard of snow per minute. 

The actual average efficiency for the last two storms 
of the winter (the number of yards melted being gaged 
by the loads removed in carts from parallel streets) was 
a little over two thirds of a cubic yard per minute. 
Granting, with the improvements proposed, an efficiency 
of one yard per minute, or sixty yards per hour, at a 
cost per hour (actual running expense only) of $10, the 
melting-machine of this type would dispose of the snow 
at a cost per yard of 16 cents. If a machine were run 
at this rate the complete twenty-four hours without a 
breakdown, it would be equivalent to about thirty single 
carts, working both day and night, with a change of 

During the past winter the actual cost of carting per 
yard (exclusive of the shoveling items, piling and load 
ing) was 25 cents. This would probably be increased to 
30 cents, including the omitted items and taking into 


account the expense of manning and caring for the 
dumps. Considering the items of supervision identical 
in both cases, the showing, therefore, is in favor of the 

H. L. S. 



THE greatest single difficulty with which the De 
partment of Street-Cleaning has to contend is 
that caused by the horrible condition of the rail 
way-tracks in their relation to the pavement adjoining 
them. It is this consideration which first attracted my 
attention to the subject; but all who drive or ride the 
bicycle in the city streets must have had their attention 
called to the subject by their own unpleasant experiences. 
This subject had forced itself on my attention in a 
general way, but had been tacitly accepted as inevitable. 
It was said perhaps very properly that the railway com 
panies had laid their tracks according to some sort of 
agreement with the city, and that they could not be re 
quired to go to the expense of relaying them. It was 
not until I drove in Vienna that the full enormity of the 
situation in New York occurred to me. The railway- 
track there is substantially the same as that in use in a 
portion of First Avenue, recently laid ujider the direction 

* Reprinted from " Harper's Weekly." 


of General Collis. It is shown in Fig. 1. The rail is 
equally high on both sides of the flange-groove. This 
groove is not such as to catch a wheel. The rail is laid 
at the exact level of the pavement, so that one can drive 
across it at any angle without noticing it. There is no 
depression on either side of the rail to hold street dirt 

FIG. 1. 

or to make sweeping difficult. In Vienna, and in other 
European towns, rails of this character are kept clean 
by the railway companies. I saw two men, each with a 
suitable scraper-scoop, running along these grooves at 
an ordinary walking gait. A wheelbarrow, driven by an 
other man between them, received the contents of their 
scoops. At the rate at which they were working, they 

FIG. 2. 

were cleaning at least two and a half miles an hour. 
This seems to me to be as near an approach to civiliza 
tion in the matter of car-track and street pavement as 
we are likely to get, and it is near enough. 

Now let us consider what we have to contend with. 
Fig. 2 shows the cross-section of pavement and rail op 
posite 15 Montgomery Street. There is a pocket for 
street dirt on both sides of the rail, and a serious ob- 


struction to wagon traffic and wheeling is caused by the 
unyielding angular ridge of iron, standing higher than 
the street-line and much higher than the depression worn 
by traffic on both sides of the rail. When water accu 
mulates in these depressions, there being generally a lit 
tle play between the iron rail and the wood to which it 
is spiked, every time the rail is struck by a vehicle or 
depressed by the car-wheel there is apt to be a squirting 
of black juice over the clothing of the unfortunates who 
have not learned to keep a sharp eye out when they en 
counter such a condition. 

Fig. 3, opposite 222 West Fourteenth Street, is differ 
ent, but not better. The car-track seems here to have 

FIG. 3. 

retired modestly to the bottom of its hole, but the power 
for mischief and discomfort is quite as great as in the 
other case. 

Even worse is the condition shown in Fig. 4, opposite 
312 Canal Street. The drop from the top of the pave 
ment to the bottom of the pocket in this case is eight 
inches. This cavern has been worked out by heavy 
trucks, and is so conspicuous that it is avoided by lighter 
vehicles as the edge of a precipice would be, and in so 
far is less annoying to those who care what kind of street 
it is over which they drive. But imagine what a prob- 


lem it offers to the poor "white angel" whose office it 
is to keep this canon clean! 

Opposite 423 Canal Street we have the pleasing com 
bination shown in Fig. 5. 

FIG. 4. 

Fig. 6, opposite 160 West Fourteenth Street, shows 
another similar combination. 

And these are fully matched at 23 Center Street 
(Fig. 7), within a stone's throw of the city hall. 

Opposite 19 West Houston Street (Fig. 8) the difficulty 
is different, but not less. The narrow slot between the 

FIG. 5. 

paving-stone and the rail is too narrow for a sweeper's 
broom, and it is narrow enough to grip a buggy-wheel 
with fatal effect. 

Fig. 9 shows the condition of the Third Avenue track 
at Twenty-ninth Street. Comment is unnecessary; "it 
beggars description." 

These illustrations are selected from a large number 



that have been measured and platted, with a view to 
calling the attention of the different railway companies 
and of the Department of Public Works to the subject. 
Others would be given did space suffice, but surely these 
are enough to elicit the attention of the public; and the 

FIG. 6. 

parallel of the conditions shown may be observed in all 
parts of the city where old tracks are in use. 

It is not worth while here to go into the theory as to 
the manner in which these excavations have been caused 
by these tracks. It is all clearly explainable and easily 
understood. The important fact is that the conditions 
exist, and that the city cannot afford to allow them to 

FIG. 7. 

continue. Consider the great strain put upon all vehicles 
coming in contact with such holes and humps as are 
shown, the serious straining and permanent injury of 
horses due to the sudden dropping of a wheel into one 
of these pits, and the breaking of harness; and then con 
sider what a saving it would be to the people, in the 
matter of dollars and cents, if all of these defective con- 


ditions were obliterated and all rail and adjoining pave 
ment were brought into the condition shown in Fig. 1. 
Consider too and this is a more serious matter than 
would at first appear the amount of profanity and bad 
temper that the universal dissemination of similar con 
ditions is fostering and developing throughout the whole 
driving section of the population. These are important 

FIG. 8. 

considerations, and are of themselves enough to warrant 
the cost of a radical reform; but it is not chiefly these 
that move me to make an appeal to public sentiment to 
exert itself in the matter. The reporters, with their 
invariable certainty of error, have quoted me on several 
occasions as saying that if the proper relation between 

FIG. 9. 

car-track and pavement could be established the $1,200,- 

000 now spent for sweeping might be reduced to $700,- 
000. Of course I never said anything of the kind. What 

1 did say was that if we could secure this condition, and, 
in addition thereto, could have all of the streets of suit 
able grade paved with asphalt, then we could save this 
$500,000 a year. The saving from the mere improvement 


of car-track conditions would be much greater than 
would be supposed by those who have not watched the 
efforts and the various devices of the sweepers to get 
their accumulated dirt across one of these tracks, or to 
clear out the cavities formed beside them. 

The subject need not be enlarged upon; it speaks for 
itself; and I say no more about it, for fear of occupying 
space that ought to be devoted to the illustrations, fur 
ther than to make the remark that if the railway com 
panies cannot be made to remedy the difficulty themselves, 
and perhaps they cannot be, the city could well afford, 
with a view to the saving that would result in the mat 
ter of street-sweeping alone, to make these changes at 
its own expense. Many of the horse roads are about to 
be changed to power roads. In all such cases new tracks 
must be laid, and it is within the power of the Depart 
ment of Public Works to control both track and pave 
ment, as has been done in First Avenue. These roads 
being eliminated, the cost of correcting those that may 
remain will be relatively unimportant. Their correction 
is imperative. 




THE impression produced by the streets of Vienna 
on the newly arrived American is altogether fa 
vorable. The pavement is much more uniformly 
good than he sees at home. There is less asphalt than 
we have, but the granite blocks, which are almost uni 
versal, are very regular and are very closely laid. They 
are perfect cubes of about eight-inch size; their surfaces 
are flat and their edges are sharp. As they are stacked 
in the depot, a dozen rows high and in piles some fifty 
feet long, they lie almost as close and true to line as so 
many pressed bricks. In the streets they are laid, on a 
true foundation of concrete, in diagonal rows, the lines 
of their opposite corners running straight across from 
curb to curb. The surface is as nearly flat as the need 
for drainage will allow much flatter than with us. I 
should say that on a roadway twenty-five feet wide the. 



middle is not more than two inches higher than the edge, 
and there is no perceptible deviation from a true surface 
either crosswise or lengthwise of the street. The joints 
between the blocks do not average more than a quarter 
of an inch. The material is hard, but it seems not to 
become slippery after years of use. The asphalt pave 
ment is equally good, and both are on the average de 
cidedly better than with us. The curbstones are heavier 
and lower, and the sidewalks are very carefully laid 
often with the same blocks as the streets. 

The tracks of the street-railroads are grooved rails, 
somewhat like those on Broadway, but they are heavier, 
and the two sides of the rail are equally high and equally 
broad. The groove in which the flange of the wheel runs 
is narrower than the narrowest carriage-wheel, so that, 
in driving, the wheel passes obliquely to and fro over the 
track without interference from it or from the pavement 
beside it. "Contrasted with our "center-bearing rail," 
with a deep wide groove between it and the stone on 
each side of it, angering the driver, wrenching the vehi 
cle and shortening its life, this Viennese device is most 
attractive. From the street-cleaner's point of view, the 
small channel (to be cleaned by the railway-man's scraper) 
is a vast gain over the two deep wide ruts that no broom 
can clean properly. Doubtless the cost of introducing 
this improved rail in New York would be covered in a 
very short time by the saving of wear and tear of vehicles 
and harness, and by the greater durability of the adja 
cent pavement, to say nothing of the comfort and cleanli 
ness which it is one of the first duties of city government 
to secure. As an incident of the changing of motive- 
power and other work, a number of tracks are now re 
ceiving the new rail. 


The sidewalks are uniformly and always clean; they are 
swept twice a day by the householders, and, except in 
the colder months, they are sprinkled twice a day by 
some domestic device, ranging from a large bottle, or a 
pail of water and a whisk, to a watering-can. I asked 
the head of the street-cleaning service if he had difficulty 
in securing the proper performance of this .work. He 
said that he gave it no attention whatever; that all the 
people do it as a matter of course, just as they attend to 
the floors of their houses, especially to those which may 
be seen by others. I frequently saw persons turn aside 
to spit in the street; I never saw one spit on the side 
walk. I mention these deviations from the cherished 
practices of my native land not because I am " un-Ameri 
can," but because it was my purpose to learn what I 
could and to report what I learned. 

In the matter of street-sweeping we are at no such 
disadvantage. Our best-paved streets, though not so 
well paved as these, are better cleaned; and our worst 
streets, with a pavement that would not be tolerated 
anywhere in Europe, are cleaner than the average of all 
except the best in Vienna. The finer thoroughfares in 
the central part of the city are swept by machine be 
tween eleven and four in the night so much as can be 
done by ten two-horse machines with their attendant 
sprinkling-carts. I drove out at four o'clock, but was 
already too late to overtake them at their work. In 
some places I found the sweepers taking up the " stroke " 
of the machines. It was trifling in amount, because 
these streets are constantly swept in the daytime. The 
machines give a fair start in the morning; but this is a 
very busy town, and when the men came on for their 
work at six there was already much for them to do. 


The sweeping force cannot compare with our own. 
Many of the men are old, few of them seem to be indus 
trious, and they dress like the New York sweepers of 
days long past. They use long-handled birch-brooms, 
which they swing over a wide swath, and when the street 
is dry they raise a merry cloud of dust. Some of them 
used (and most of them seemed to have) cans with very 
long spouts terminating in rose-sprinklers. The can is 
held against the breast, and the body is swayed from side 
to side, throwing the water over a considerable width. 
It seemed a good plan. Aside from the broom and can, 
each sweeper has a shovel, an odd-shaped dust-pan, and 
a medieval two-wheeled hand-cart, weighing as much as 
a buggy. 

The dust-pan has a sheet-iron bottom about eighteen 
inches square, and wooden sides and back about eight 
inches high (the back higher than the sides). From the 
back there rises vertically a handle of narrow board, with 
a hole for the hand; the board reaches to about the 
height of the armpit. This is held with the left hand 
and arm, the iron bottom flat on the ground, and the 
long broom is worked with the right hand. When the 
pan is full it is carried to the side of the street and 
dumped in small piles. In due time the hand-cart is 
trundled to one pile after another and is filled with the 
shovel. Then it is wheeled away to some convenient 
place where the traffic is not too active, and its contents 
are shoveled out and added to a fast-growing heap, which 
is afterward shoveled into the great wagons that haul it 
away to the point of final disposal. 

Vienna is divided into nine wards. Only the first 
(Bezirk /.), the fine central part, is cleaned entirely by 
the city's own force. The others are largely cared for 


by contractors. There is a good deal of macadam in all 
the wards, even in the central one. The areas are re 
corded by square meters, which is necessary because some 
streets are 200 feet wide, and some not over 20 feet, with 
roadways in proportion. The whole roadway area is 
equal to about 550 miles of our streets. The paved street 
area of the first ward equals only about 25 miles of ours. 
This is all as well cleaned as the Bowery and Grand Street, 
much of it as well as Fifth Avenue and Broadway. 

The cost of cleaning this 25 miles, including the re 
moval of sweepings and house wastes, sprinkling twice a 
day in the warmer months, and removing all the snow in 
winter, is about 400,000 gulden. At the present rate of 
exchange the gulden is worth 41 J cents. In wages it is 
worth, as compared with street-cleaners' wages in New 
York, about $2.94. That is to say, the pay of a sweeper 
in Vienna is 1 gulden per day, and he works ten hours. 
Our men get $2.30, and they work not much more than 
eight hours. All expenses are in about the same pro 
portion, and this is to be remembered when the cost of 
our work is compared with that of Europe. A mile of 
street in the heart of Vienna (calculated to our width) 
costs, sprinkling and snow included, about 16,000 gulden 
a year. A mile of average street in New York costs, 
without sprinkling and snow, $7190. As indicated above, 
our men work more faithfully, and our streets, on the 
average, are cleaner. The outlying eight wards in 
Vienna are mostly very imperfectly cleaned. The out 
lay for the whole city is only about 1,500,000 gulden. 

The average cost of snow removal in the first ward is 
from 80,000 to 100,000 gulden. After heavy storms as 
many as 12,000 extra men are hired mainly in the first 
ward and thousands of teams are hired, A bargain 


is made with each to haul away the snow from a given 

The work is well systematized as to all that is done by 
the department, save that the sweepers are not kept up 
to the mark as they might be. The chief overseer of each 
district gets only 1500 gulden per year, while our district 
superintendent gets $1800; but he is usually a man of 
good position. He esteems it a great honor to have such 
important work intrusted to him, and he devotes himself 
to it. 

The collection of house wastes goes on all day, but the 
collecting-wagons have notice given of their coming, by 
bell or otherwise, and the garbage, etc., in boxes and 
baskets of every sort, are set out just in time for them. 
These wagons are very large and cumbersome, and they 
are covered. They collect sweepings and house wastes 
indiscriminately, and are hauled out about an hour's dis 
tance into the country, where their contents are turned 
over to the " scow-trimming " contractor of the locality. 
The unsalable refuse is finally used for filling depressions 
left by the old course of the Danube. The contractor 
and his wife work at the " picking " like the men, women, 
and children whom they employ. Their business is well 
managed, and little that can be turned to account is al 
lowed to escape. An important item of their collection 
is fuel bits of wood, cinders, coal, etc.; and this is made 
the subject of a very Yankee-like piece of cleverness. 
The workmen are allowed to carry home all of this ma 
terial that they collect on Saturday. They seem not to 
consider that the sufficiency of their output in the same 
line on the other five days of the week is measured by 
the Saturday standard. 

It is hardly necessary to say that no fair comparison 


can be made between the street-cleaning work of this 
city and that of New York, even if it would be proper 
for me to make it. The conditions are all very different. 
Some of our methods could be adopted with advantage in 
Vienna, and some of their apparatus would be worth try 
ing in New York. For example, their sweeping-machines 
are of a much better pattern than ours, and they have 
a snow-plow that is most useful. Though this latter 
costs about 900 gulden, the street-railways use 200 of 
them, and the city has nearly the same number for its 
own work. 

There are street-sprinkling wagons of various sorts. 
One has about eight feet of hose leading from its tap, 
and a boy, walking at a safe distance behind it, jerks a 
connecting-rope in such a way as to swing the end of the 
hose from side to side, throwing a good spray over a 
width of four yards or more. This seems crude, but it 
is effective. Another wagon which finds much favor in 
the department is a very complete machine. Its reser 
voir of iron is hermetically sealed, and it has an air-pump, 
worked by the revolution of a hind wheel by means of a 
sprocket and chain (like a bicycle). The pressure may 
be regulated anywhere from one ounce to thirty "pounds 
per square inch, and the spray may be delivered to the 
rear or to either side at will, or to the full half-circle. 
Everything is under the easy control of the driver. The 
work is effective for a width of twenty-five feet or more, 
or less, according to the pressure given. It is a great 
advantage of this watering-wagon that it sprinkles the 
streets without deluging them. 



Budapest, although it is now celebrating its thousandth 
anniversary, is practically a new city. To those who are 
fond of international comparisons, it is " the Chicago of 
Europe." The comparison is not altogether apt, for Buda 
pest is very well and handsomely built to its outer edges, 
and its public buildings and public places are regal in their 
aspect, while it has very little of the wonderful industrial 
and business activity of Chicago. Its principal streets 
are wide and long, and they have stretched out over the 
level plain with marvelous rapidity. Both towns have 
grown too fast, and are now feeling the effect in the form 
of financial lassitude. Here the resemblance stops. 

From the point of view of the street-cleaner, no com 
parison is possible, for the Hungarian capital is very 
clean. It is save in some of its older streets unusu 
ally well paved where it is paved, and perfectly macad 
amized where it is not paved. Andrassystrasse, the finest 
and longest street, is paved with wood, after the best 
London and Paris model than which, when it is well 
kept, nothing in the world is better, from the street- 
cleaning point of view. 

In the matter of the sweeping of streets and sidewalks 
and of the collection of household wastes, the methods 
here are substantially the same as in Vienna, save that 
the sweepers are active young men and are much more 
industrious. Other differences are only in details of lit 
tle importance, except with regard to the cab-stands, 
which are many and are actively used. These are gen 
erally a little lower than the street, are graded to a 


sewer inlet, and are asphalted. They are swept and 
thoroughly flushed and scrubbed several times a day, so 
that the usual odor and untidiness of such places are en 
tirely obviated. 

The area of paved streets is equal to about 150 miles 
of New York streets. The cost of snow removal in the 
winter of 1895-96 was 160,000 gulden. Wages are 1 
gulden per day. The entire cost for all cleaning, snow 
removal, transportation of wastes, and street-sprinkling 
averages about 800,000 gulden per year. 

In the matter of final disposition Budapest is very in 
structive and interesting. Everything is hauled to a 
station some three miles away. Here the wagons, night- 
soil vans, etc., are dumped into cars standing in a tun 
nel under the dumping-platforms. The loaded trains run 
out about three miles farther, to Kleinpest, a point re 
mote from all population, save for the two hundred and 
fifty men, women, and children working about the dis 
posal plant. They are a curious community. The works 
have been in operation for some thirty years, and most 
of those now employed were born in the " Kehrichtring " 
(Rubbish Boulevard), as they call their village. They are 
not an attractive community, and the older members are 
said to spend most of their wages in drink. Save for 
the effects of this dissipation, there is little sickness, and 
it is evidently not in itself an unhealthy industry in 
which they are engaged. 

The whole business of final disposition is in the hands 
of a contractor who has controlled it for twenty years or 
more. He is a very wealthy man and a large landholder, 
whose interest lies largely in the value of the manure for 
his farms. He owns the dump, the railroad and its 
equipment, and the separating machinery. He receives 


from the city 115,000 gulden per year, in addition to the 
material delivered to him. 

After this year his contract will be extended to include 
the collection in the town and the hauling to the dump; 
and he is building a branch line to connect his works 
with the state railroads, to widen the market for his 
fertilizers. He has, up to this time, made no money 
profit, but he has had a good supply of manure for home 
use, and has accumulated enormous deposits, which the 
new railroad connection will enable him to sell. 

The separation-works were started nearly thirty years 
ago by Mr. Ignatius Fischer, who was then the contrac 
tor. He had more ingenuity and enterprise than capital, 
and he became the manager of the works under his suc 
cessor. He is a man of quick intelligence, and has built 
up, little by little, with the aid of a competent mechani 
cal engineer and lately of a chemist, a very complete 
factory for the separation of the wastes and the manu 
facture of fertilizers, etc. The chemist was for some 
years with Edison in New York. He is now carrying on 
successful experiments in the direction of the develop 
ment of ammonia and other marketable products from 
certain parts of the refuse. Nearly all of the hand-ling 
and separation of the material is done by machinery, only 
the culling out of the salable wastes requiring manual 

The apparatus is contained in a large four-story brick 
building with ample steam-power, unsalable rubbish 
being the fuel used. The railroad-cars are unloaded into 
small tram-wagons, which are hauled by an endless chain 
from a tunnel under the track up a steep slope to the 
top of the building, where they are dumped into the 
mouth of a coarse revolving screen, which holds back 


large sticks, boxes, old baskets, broken watermelons (this 
is the land of the best and cheapest watermelons in the 
world), and other large objects. What passes through 
the wide meshes of this screen runs into another with a 
very close mesh. This takes out the dust and the fine 
horse-manure as ground up by the wheels and the sweep 
ers in the streets, and sends it to the wagons running to 
the manure-dumps. The next screen divides the remain 
ing material roughly into two grades, for easier hand- 

The picking-tables, which are very long, are furnished 
with endless aprons of heavy hemp cloth about two feet 
wide. These move slowly between two rows of women 
and children, who select the various treasures to which 
they are assigned, each after its kind. The white-bottle 
boy lets the green bottles pass, and the big-bone woman 
pays no attention to the small bones; these meet their 
fate farther on. One group of children devotes itself 
entirely to corks, another to nails, another to strings, 
and so on. As the cloth finally turns over the end of the 
table it drops all of its rejected material into a conveyer, 
which carries it to the manure-wagon. In the heap to 
which it is added there goes on a process of " bacteriol 
ysis " that reduces it all to the condition of a fine com 
post fit for the fields. Curiously (to us), no use is made 
of paper or rags, save as they are required for fuel. The 
wood-pulp industry and the German tariff on paper stock 
have robbed them of all commercial value. This, too, in 
the face of a minuteness of economy that is careful not 
to let a single old cork escape, although the only sale for 
the corks is to make fenders for the use of the boats on 
the Danube. Nothing that has the slightest selling value 
is allowed to escape, and what cannot be sold in its pres- 


ent form is turned over to the productive industry of the 
microbes of the compost-heaps. 

It seemed to me that these very complete works, de 
veloped through years of patient study of the refuse of 
the saving population of Budapest, presented food for 
much thought to one whose official functions compel him 
to dump outside of Sandy Hook two and a half million 
cubic yards a year of the wastes of the wasteful city of 
New York, where rags and paper sell for a good price. 
Our conditions are very different from those of Budapest, 
and different measures must be taken here; but if we can 
ever reach the minute economy of the works at Kleinpest, 
we ought, with our richer refuse and our higher prices, 
to derive an income from our rubbish sufficient to pay 
much of the cost of running the Department of Street- 
Cleaning. In support of this opinion it is to be said that 
the recovery and sale of paper, rags, bottles, metals, rub 
ber, wood, coal, bone, grease, corks, strings, shoes, hats, 
and other things that are thrown away, to the value of 
half a cent a day for each member of the population, 
should that be possible, would amount to much more than 
the whole appropriation for street-cleaning. We may 
never reach this figure, but the sum total thus to be 
saved will surely be very large, and the experience of 
Budapest is full of promise and instruction for us. 


For several reasons Berlin offers special attractions as 
a field for the study of street-cleaning methods from the 
point of view of the work in New York. In the first 
place, it is the only large city in Europe in which the 


sweepers are uniformed beyond a special cap or badge, 
serving for identification, but not modifying the varie 
gated clothing of the common workman. In the next 
place, Mr. Albert Shaw, in his "Municipal Government 
in Continental Europe," gives prominence to the cleanly 
condition of the streets, and he sets forth in detail and 
very clearly the excellent government of Berlin; while 
Miss Colbron's paper in the New York "Times" last 
spring indicated a very good management of the Depart 
ment of Street-Cleaning. 

My investigation showed almost at the outset the cor 
rectness of the Berlin department's own statement, in its 
last annual report, that " comparisons with other great 
cities cannot convey a correct impression as to the rela 
tive cost of the work, because the conditions are so dif 

This applies to methods and to results as well as to 
cost. For example, in New York we sweep every street 
at least once a day; we do not sprinkle the streets; we 
do not sweep the sidewalks; we remove all household 
refuse; and we are charged with the final disposition of 
street and household wastes of every kind. This last 
item costs us about $475,000 per year. In Berlin, on the 
other hand, the department sweeps the streets on an 
average of only three times a week; it sprinkles the 
streets; it sweeps all the sidewalks; it has nothing what 
ever to do with household wastes of any kind, neither 
ashes, garbage, nor refuse; it disposes only of the dirt 
swept up in the streets and from the sidewalks, and it 
pays a contractor for this removal only about $140,000. 

With us practically no street dirt is allowed to be run 
into the sewers. In Berlin all that can be made liquid 
enough is so disposed of. We have to find our own 


points of disposal, thus far at sea, while in Berlin this 
is the lookout of the contractor. 

It is clear, therefore, that, however much we may find 
that is of interest, we cannot make useful comparisons 
as to cost nor as to processes. The rate of wages and 
the number of persons employed differ in a most impor 
tant degree. Our force numbers about 2700, of all 
grades, and we pay our sweepers and drivers an average 
of about $680 per year. In Berlin the force numbers 
only about 900, men and boys, and their average pay is 
not more than about $260 per year. Our annual outlay 
is about $3,000,000; that of Berlin is about $760,000. The 
two cities are of very nearly the same population. 

Therefore, setting comparison aside, let us see just what 
the work of the department is in Berlin, and how it is done. 

The more frequented streets are swept every day, 
others three times a week, others twice a week, and 
others again only once a week. Those that are not swept 
daily are looked to pretty constantly, and any excessive 
fouling is removed by ambulant gangs employed for this 
purpose. The sidewalks are swept early in the morning. 
Very much of the street-sweeping is done by machinery, 
by contractors, and this is almost exclusively night-work, 
beginning at eleven o'clock and ending before six in the 
morning. The " stroke " of the machine is swept into 
heaps, shoveled into wheelbarrows, and dumped at con 
venient points, from which it is taken by the contractors' 
wagons. I was out on one very rainy night and found 
a good deal of this dirt being run into the sewer inlets. 
In these much of the sand is held back by a trap, while 
much sand and most of the mud enter the sewers, from 
which it is necessary from time to time to remove de 
posits by flushing or by mechanical means. 


As in all European cities, sand is used very freely to 
prevent the slipping of horses on the pavements, espe 
cially on asphalt and wood. The sanding and the removal r 
of the ground-up sand add much to the work of the de 

The asphalt pavement is mainly very good. The same 
can hardly be said for the wood pavement. And this is 
evidently the universal opinion of the cab-drivers. I 
had no opportunity to inquire into the reason for this v 
defect, which does not exist in London and Paris, but I / 
was especially struck with the fact that a wide expanse 
of wood pavement on Unter den Linden, near the museum, 
was a series of small pools during rain, and that driving 
over this in any weather was very jolty business as com 
pared with the asphalt in its neighborhood. Such ir 
regularity of surface is a great drawback to successful 
machine-sweeping, and adds to the labor of hand-sweep 
ing. Without noticeable exception, however, the pave 
ment of this city is far, very far, from being so bad as 
that of most New York. It is only our asphalt streets 
that are as good as these. On the other hand, there are 
in Berlin many macadamized streets which get only a 
superficial cleaning. 

The question of the pay and the general treatment of 
the men is well worth our consideration. As we have 
seen, the rate of wages is very low. A gang-leader gets 
only 93 cents per day; a workman of the first class only 
81 cents; a workman of the second class only 68 cents; 
and a boy only 40 cents. These are more than the usual 
rate of wages, not only in Berlin, but in the country 
generally. From the standard of comfortable support, 
these amounts are obviously sufficient. The employees 
are strong, well fed, and in good condition, and the ser- 


vice is eagerly sought after; for, aside from the pay, the 
attending conditions are very favorable. In the first 
place, the city furnishes uniforms and tools, and it takes 
good care of its working-people. The boys, who are used 
mainly for cleaning the streets of horse-droppings and 
litter during the daytime, are taken on at the age of six 
teen or seventeen. When they reach the age for military 
service they go into the army, and they have a prefer 
ence for reemployment after their discharge. The sec 
ond-class men, who number only about seventy in all, are 
raised to the first class within a single year, and some 
times earlier when especial fitness for the work is shown. 
After four years of satisfactory service the men are as 
sured their positions for life, with the pensions and other 
benefits provided* for. In other words, employment in 
the street-cleaning service opens a life-career to those 
who properly fulfil the requirements of their positions. 

The work is exacting rather than hard. The regular 
men who follow the sweeping-machines work from mid 
night until eight in the morning; but they have a half- 
hour for breakfast, so that their actual work is only for 
seven and a half hours. The day men work from seven 
in the morning till seven in the evening in summer, and 
from eight till eight in the winter; but they have three 
hours for breakfast, dinner, and supper, making the time 
of actual working nine hours per day. The force is 
changed about so that each has his fair share of day 
and night work. On Sundays and holidays the day men 
work only from six to nine in the morning, and they re 
ceive full pay for these days. 

At the same time they are considered to be on duty 
every day at all hours, so that in the case of floods, heavy 
storms, snow, etc., they may be called on at any time for 


any amount of extra work. They are legally entitled to 
no extra pay for this; but the department has a small 
fund, furnished by the City Council, from which it may, 
and does, in its discretion, give a gratuity to those who 
have done especially well, or who may have shown spe 
cial efficiency or fidelity in their work. This is accepted 
gratefully as a bonus, not received as a right. Taking 
the year through, day and night, Sundays, holidays, and 
all, and counting emergencies, the work averages eight 
hours per day. 

One of the best features of the system is the manner 
in which illness and disability are treated. If a man is 
disqualified by sickness he is paid his full wages for three 
days. After that his pay ceases, but he gets the benefit 
of the sick-fund. If he is permanently disabled, sup 
posing him to be a life-member of the force, the City 
Council awards him, in addition to the benefits to which 
he is entitled from the sick-fund, etc., from $100 to 
$150 per year for the rest of his life. If he is able to 
do light work, light work he must do; but if he has been 
for four years a faithful member of the street-cleaning 
force, he is sure of support till he dies. It is to be re 
membered that in Berlin soul and body can be comfor 
tably kept together for even as little as $100 per year. 

The gratuity from the Council comes from a fund of 
$1000, which has been maintained, since before the es 
tablishment of the sick-fund, for use in the relief of 
special cases. From this source a disabled man may 
receive an amount equal to one half his regular wages; 
and it sometimes happens that with this and the sick- 
fundespecially when a man is entitled to draw from 
two such funds an idle man gets more than a working- 
man's pay. Such instances are very exceptional. As a 


rule, men who have been in receipt of benefits are very 
glad to get back to work again. 

The sick-fund was established in 1892, but in this 
short time it has proved to be a great benefit, and the 
results have been most satisfactory. In 1894, out of a 
membership of 900, 318 received more or less help from 
the fund. The receipts of the fund were $8462, and the 
payments for disability were $4975. At the end of 1894 
the invested fund amounted to $7281. The prosperity 
was such that the committee was directed at the general 
meeting to increase the benefit from half -pay for thirteen 
weeks' sickness to two-thirds pay for twenty-six weeks, 
and the death payment was raised from twenty days' pay 
to forty days' pay. Unmarried men in hospitals receive 
one tenth of the amount of their wages for pocket-money. 
The flourishing condition of the fund makes these liberal 
disbursements safe. In addition to this fund, there is a 
voluntary funeral fund, which gives aid to the families 
of deceased members. 

In addition to all this, men who have served for twenty- 
five years get special extra compensation. In short, 
everything possible is done to make each individual man 
feel that he is not so much an employee of the depart 
ment as one of its members, and that for the rest of his 
life he is sure of care, protection, and support. 

The uniform is modest and neat rather than conspicu 
ous, and is thus less useful in calling public attention to 
the care the streets are receiving and in enlisting public 
aid in the avoidance of littering. Perhaps it is better 
suited to the temper of the people of Berlin; but it can 
not be doubted that in New York the fact that the 
sweepers stare the public in the face in every street has 
had much effect in securing popular approbation and 


assistance. The belted blouse of the Berlin uniform is 
originally black, but the weather soon gives it a not un 
pleasant greenish hue; the cap is flat and not large; and 
the trousers, at this season at least, are of unbleached 
duck both long, for good weather, and short, with long 
boots, for rainy days. Some of the men and many of 
the boys have a black haversack strapped over the 
shoulder, in which are carried a water-proof cape, a 
hunk of black bread, etc. 

As already indicated, all manner of household wastes 
are removed by private contractors, of whom there are 
some two hundred, large and small. They take these 
wastes from the interior of the house, and our unsightly 
"receptacles" and ash-barrels are never seen on the 
sidewalk. There is no systematic method of disposal. 
Those who remove house wastes, as well as those who 
haul away the street-sweepings, must provide their own 
dumping-places. Much is sold for manure, some is used 
for filling low lands, and some is deposited in useless 
heaps. The city is growing so rapidly that its refuse 
must be carried farther and farther afield, with an at 
tendant increase of cost. 

As a relief from this condition, very careful experi 
ments have been carried on for a year or more in the 
direction of destruction by fire; but they have been 
abandoned because of the high cost of cremation when 
applied to Berlin refuse. While this process is reason 
ably economical in Hamburg, where English coal is largely 
used for fuel, leaving a certain amount of combustible 
cinder in the ash, which helps the burning, it is found that 
the " brown coal " and " briquettes " used in Berlin make 
much more ash, which has no remnant of fuel left in it. 
What is to be done in the matter is not yet determined. 


I was not in the city long enough to form a correct 
opinion as to its cleanliness, and it rained much of the 
time, the rain helping the work in some ways and hin 
dering it in others. I got the impression that it is not 
cleaner nor, save as to ash-barrels, more tidy than New 
York. Possibly longer observation, in better weather, 
would have given another impression. 


It was with especial interest that I made my first ex 
amination of the streets of Paris, for I remembered them 
as being in excellent condition in 1889 (Exposition year). 

After a close and careful examination, I should say 
that they are quite as well swept as our streets, and that 
there is nowhere to be found the defective pavement of 
which we have so much. In the matter of litter, how 
ever, I think that New York is much better cared for. 
Except in the more frequented show streets, and to a 
certain extent even there, there is more paper scattered, 
and in many parts of the town much less attention seems 
to be paid to its collection and removal. On the whole, 
I think we lose nothing in the comparison. New York 
is as clean and at least as tidy as Paris. The methods 
of work in the French capital are in many respects dif 
ferent from what was found in other cities, and very 
different from the methods here. 

In 1859 the cleaning of the streets was transferred 
from the Prefecture de Police to the Prefecture de la 
Seine, and it was then placed in the hands of the Engi 
neering Department. The cost at that time could not 


be learned; but the cost in 1872 was 3,808,000 francs; in 
1877 it was 4,618,000; in 1889 it was 6,530,000. It is now 
about 8,000,000 francs. Formerly it was the duty of all 
property-owners to clean one half of the street, if this did 
not exceed 6 meters (20 feet). This work is now done 
by the city, and is paid for by a special tax on the prop 
erty, which, for this purpose, is divided into three classes: 
that occupied (1) by buildings, (2) by walls or open 
grounds, (3) by vacant lots. In no case is the charge 
more than the actual cost to the city; in some cases it 
is materially less. Property-holders must still remove 
snow and ice from the sidewalks, according to specific 

The total surface swept (1889) was 15,562,000 square 
meters. Of this, the property taxed paid for 8,721,000 
meters, and the city for 6,840,000. The amount of the 
tax was 3,140,000 francs. The average cost per square 
meter was 36 centimes (7 cents) per annum. 

The sweeping force is divided into 149 gangs. In the 
central part of the city each gang consists of a foreman, 
assistant foreman, and 20 to 25 men or women, most of 
whom work during the morning at the necessary sweep 
ing and assist in the loading of the wagons. In the 
afternoon only the regular route men are at work. They 
keep the streets in order, wash the gutters and urinals, 
care for markets, etc. Outside of the center, the gangs 
consist of 1 foreman, 4 route men, and 15 to 20 sweepers, 
the last usually working only in the forenoon. Work 
begins at 4 A. M. all the year round. The half-day ends 
at 11 A. M., and the full day at 4 p. M. The entire force 
consists of 3200 regular hands, with extra men for emer 
gencies. The pay is by the hour, the men receiving 32, 
34, and 37 centimes, and the women, children, and old 


men, 25, 27, and 30 centimes. The route men are paid 
by the month 120 to 125 francs for the leaders, and 
105 francs for the ordinary men. Of this they are re 
quired to pay 5 francs per month into a savings fund, 
which is repaid to them when they quit the service. All 
men regularly employed are also obliged to join a mutual 
benefit society. 

The workmen of the street-cleaning service of Paris 
are not uniformed, and, except for their numbered badges, 
they are not to be distinguished from other working-men. 
The slouchy and often faded blue or black blouse so 
generally worn is neither distinctive nor attractive. It 
is comfortable, cheap, and cheap-looking. 

Sweeping-machines are used for auxiliary work on 
paved streets, and for emergencies, as during a thaw, 
and when it is required that the streets should be cleaned 
rapidly for special occasions. 

All street-sprinkling is done by the city and under the 
direction of the engineers having charge of the cleaning. 
Sprinkling costs just about twice as much per square 
meter for macadam, of which there is a great deal, as 
for pavement. The water-carts weigh when empty about 
1400 pounds, and when full about 4000 pounds, with the 
driver. Where water is conveniently furnished they de 
liver at least two loads per hour. The sprinklers cover 
a width of about 16 feet, and one load suffices for 800 to 
900 square meters; 370 water-carts are now used. These 
belong to the city, which hires horses one to each cart 
and drivers at 340 francs ($68) per month. 

More recently, on the principal streets, much use is 
made of jointed pipes attached to hydrant-cocks provided 
for the purpose. This apparatus is made of from 4 to 
6 pieces of pipe, each 2 meters long, with flexible joints, 


and running on small, caster-like trucks. They reach to 
about 75 feet, and the cocks supplying them are about 
150 feet apart. The work is very effective, and costs only 
half that of water-cart work. 

On asphalt and wood much use is made of the squee 
gee (a rubber scraper). A man working this walks at 
least at the rate of two miles per hour and covers 1200 
square meters. If strong and skilful he may cover 2000 
meters. There is still a good deal of work done in a \ 
much more primitive and antiquated way. Water is set / * *_-, 
running in the gutters, and is dammed here and thereL/^v 
by a bunch of untidy-looking old rags. The workman / 
throws this water with a common scoop over the sidewalk J ^ 
and into the street. This does very well for washing 
sidewalks in conjunction with the squeegee, but its use 
is certainly not to be commended on the score either of 
tidiness or of economy. All pavements are sprinkled 
before sweeping if the weather is dry. If the streets are 
slimy from light rains the squeegee is used. Unless 
there is much mud or horse-manure, machines are not 
needed. When the machine is used, in wet weather or 
in dry, the stroke is gathered together with a common 
birch broom such as is used in Budapest and almost uni 
versally in European towns. The sweeping-machines 
used cover 6000 square meters per hour. 

It is stated in the official report that what cannot be 
taken up is washed into the sewers, and that where there 
is much sand they save what they can of it for resanding 
the streets when slippery. To the ordinary observer it 
seems that they wash into the sewers all that can be got 
rid of in that way, and the accounts given of the amount 
of deposit regularly cleaned from the sewers would in 
dicate that this method is carried to excess. It leads 


to the conclusion, which my earlier observation in other 
directions has indicated to be correct, that the sewers of 
Paris are many of them as dirty as the streets are clean. 

In dry weather wood pavements are washed daily, as 
phalt every two days, and stone and macadam every three 
days. This washing is done between 4 and 8 A. M. 

The order of work is as follows: From 4 to 6:30 A. M., 
sweeping and washing of sidewalks and streets, washing 
and disinfecting places soiled by urine, and cleaning 
public urinals; 6: 30 to 8: 30, assisting the wagons in tak 
ing up house wastes and general sweepings; 8:30 to 11, 
gathering droppings, washing gutters, sprinkling streets, 
cleaning and disinfecting urinals; 11 to 1, midday meal. 
This may be advanced to 10 o'clock, or put off till 12, if 
the exigencies of the work require it. Sometimes only 
one hour is allowed for the meal. In very hot weather 
the sprinkling is continued through this noon rest, the 
men taking turns, but each being allowed one hour for 
his repast. From 1 to 4 the same work as from 8: 30 to 
11; from 4 to 7 this work is continued in case of neces 
sity; from 7 to 9 P. M., during the five winter months, 
continuing the occasional sanding of asphalt and wood 
which has gone on during the day. This is supplemental 
work, and the men do it by turns. The work about the 
markets continues from 7 A. M. to 9 P. M., at intervals, 
and as it can be done without interfering with the opera 
tions of the market-men. It includes the disinfection of 
all places soiled, as by cleaning fish, etc. 

The official report of public works says: "The streets 
are sanded as many times during the day as is necessary 
to prevent the surface from becoming slippery. This is 
one of the operations of which the performance should 
never be delayed." 


The garbage and other household refuse, as well as 
the sweepings of the streets, are taken up by the wagons 
between 6 and 8:30 A. M. in summer and between 7 and 
9 in winter. Garbage was formerly placed at the edge 
of the sidewalks. This led to a very untidy condition 
from the scattering of the material by rag-pickers and 
others, and accidents resulted from the falling of broken 
bottles, pottery, etc., into the streets. To avoid this, 
owners are now obliged to provide for their tenants, from 
9 P. M. until morning, one or more receptacles for all 
household wastes. These are set out at least an hour 
before the time for collection, and are taken in immedi 
ately after collection. They have to be kept in a sound 
and cleanly condition, and they can receive nothing but 
household wastes. 

Every three years bids are received for the work of 
collection, the contractor becoming the owner of all that 
he collects. Formerly this resulted in a profit to the 
city that is, the material was worth more than the cost 
of removal. Then for a time the value was about equal 
to the cost. At present the city pays for its removal 
over 2,000,000 francs per annum. One reason for this 
change of condition is that there is now a smaller num 
ber of subcontractors, such as the market-gardeners, 
who used to occupy lands now covered with buildings, 
and who aided the city contractors in their work and 
paid something for what they collected; another is the 
greater distance to which it is necessary to cart all 
refuse, because of the growth of the city, and especially 
because the authorities of suburban districts have be 
come more severe in their requirements as to the deposit 
of waste materials. These conditions have also led to 
an increased cost of the material as delivered to farmers, 


so that these now prefer to buy stable manure. For 
purposes of removal the city is divided into sections, for 
which special rates of payment are tabulated. Selected 
and well-known contractors bid for each section so 
much more or less than the fixed tariff. They are re 
quired to take all refuse from houses, restaurants, bar 
racks, etc., to remove street-sweepings, including fallen 
leaves, all market refuse, and such spoiled food-supplies 
as are seized for bad condition. The contractor himself 
chooses the route for the working of the different wagons 
in his section, but this is subject to the control of the 
engineer, with a view to the prevention of overloading, 
interference with traffic, and too early hours for the com 
fort of people who are not early astir. These routes 
cannot be changed without the approval of the authori 
ties. In regulating them the contractor arranges for a 
certain amount of work to be done by farmers' wagons 
at convenient hours and places. The contractor's vehi 
cles are generally large, with broad tires for country 
travel. They have a hoisting apparatus for loading, and 
are served by two men. 

The coming of the wagon to remove household refuse 
is announced by the ringing of a specified bell. It is re 
quired that all wagons be kept painted and thoroughly 
disinfected, and the administration has control over the 
men as well as the vehicles. The city provides three 
men or women during the two hours of collection to as 
sist in loading each wagon. If receptacles are roughly 
handled and injured, the employee is held responsible, 
and is obliged to pay for repairing or replacing them. 

The contract for the removal of refuse includes an 
obligation to furnish teams for sweeping-machines and 
water-carts at a fixed tariff. In case of need, the con- 


tractor must help in the removal of snow and ice. The 
contractor must present himself daily, at a fixed hour, 
at the engineer's office for instructions, and he is obliged 
to keep his own office open from 8 A. M. to 4 p. M. and to 
maintain telephonic connection there. 

A two-horse-wagon service, including the collection of 
house wastes and sweepings, that is, including every 
thing that is to be carted away, serves an average popu 
lation of about 3500. Each wagon costs the city, on an 
average, from 10 to 11 francs per day. 

No comparison can be made as to the cost of carting 
in Paris and New York. The French are less wasteful 
than we are, and household refuse consequently amounts 
to less; but, on the other hand, we have to remove every 
thing, while a very large part of the street-sweepings of 
Paris is run into the sewers. 

There is one curious thing about the collection of the 
materials in Paris: that is, that the rag-pickers seem to 
be under the special protection of the government, and 
are allowed full swing at the receptacles as they stand 
on the sidewalks, and even on the wagons as they are 
being loaded. What we call " scow-trimming," for which 
the city of New York receives a large sum, is thus aban 
doned to individual enterprise, and is carried on at the 
source of supply rather than at the point of dumping. 

Efforts thus far made in Paris to utilize garbage have 
resulted in loss. It was thought that the shells of mus 
sels and oysters might be converted into a manure; but 
this scheme has been given up, and they are now dumped 
into abandoned quarries in the vicinity of the city. 

The question of distant transportation of the city's 
wastes, by water or by rail, has been carefully investi 
gated, and the outlook is not promising. Water trans- 


portation means a difficulty from droughts, which may 
interfere with it for weeks together, from floods, which 
are often serious, and from the freezing of the water 
ways. This method is therefore unavailable, because it 
is not reliable for the daily use which is absolutely neces 
sary. Delivery by rail has thus far been found too ex 
pensive. In order to reach lands poor enough to make 
matters of this kind of value, it would be necessary to 
go so far as to make the lowest possible rate of freight 
prohibitory. The question has been mooted of estab 
lishing a model farm for the city, on which to demon 
strate the value of the wastes. 

Incineration has also been considered; but it was found 
that the original investment for buildings and machinery 
would amount to 6,000,000 francs, and that there would 
be the embarrassment that, while the material is col 
lected in two hours in the morning, economical working 
would require the incineration to be continued uninter 
ruptedly day and night. The whole question is still open, 
and it is an extremely knotty one. Everything points to 
a steady and large increase of the cost of final disposition, 
whatever method may be resorted to. 

Neither in street-cleaning, in the removal of household 
wastes, nor in final disposition did I find any suggestions 
which would be of use in New York, save as to the value 
of the salable refuse. 

Until and including the winter of 1879-80 the removal 
of snow and ice was carried on according to regulations 
promulgated by the Prefet de la Seine, which determined 
the obligations of property-owners and of the adminis 
tration. These are still in force, at least with regard 
to the duty of owners, who have to clear their sidewalks 
of snow, putting it into the street or in banks on the 


walk itself; to break the ice in the gutters; to spread 
sand, ashes, or cinders on frozen surfaces; and finally, in 
certain cases, but only on the formal requisition of the 
administration, to pile the snow of the street itself. 

At the beginning of each winter printed notices are 
served on all owners, reminding them of their obligations. 
It is to be admitted, however, that their concurrence is 
secured only with difficulty; it is often necessary to call 
in the aid of the police, to bring many suits at law, and 
to enforce judgment in a great number of cases. This 
complicates the work of the administration when all its 
energies are needed for the work on the streets. It is 
especially prohibited to deposit on the public thorough 
fare any snow from roofs or from inner courtyards. 
There is published each year a list of places to which 
this snow may be carried. 

Up to the date named the administration provided for 
the clearing of the streets with the ordinary force of 
street-cleaners, supplemented by numerous auxiliary 
workmen, by the fifty wagons which the omnibus com 
pany is required by the terms of its franchise to furnish, 
and by the teams which the city has the right to exact 
from the contractors who remove street-sweepings and 
house wastes. As all these resources were insufficient, 
contracts were at the beginning of the season made with 
private persons to furnish a certain number of wagons 
by the day. The city had no apparatus useful for snow 
work other than its sweeping-machines. The use of salt 
had not yet been seriously tried. 

This organization had nearly always sufficed, because 
in Paris snow seldom lasts more than a few days, and 
thaws rapidly. But the experience of 1879-80 demon 
strated that when much snow fell and the cold continued 


the usual methods were absolutely ineffective. As a con 
sequence, new regulations were made, which have worked 
well. These were: 

1. The organization of the entire force early in the 
season by denned areas, so that the foremen and the men 
should know just what they were to do at the beginning 
of a storm, and so that, without waiting for further 
orders, they should betake themselves immediately to 
their posts. 

2. Fixing the order of operations for removing snow 
from the streets according to their importance. 

3. The use of mechanical aids to hasten the removal, 
and the application of salt to hasten the melting, of the 

4. Dumping the snow into the river and discharging 
it into sewers. 

5. The extensive cooperation of private enterprise, by 
turning over to contractors a portion of the hand-work 
and of the carting. 

In time of snow all of the personnel of the Street- 
Cleaning Department is employed for its removal. Each 
gang has its appointed rendezvous, its sand, its salt, and 
its prescribed place of discharge. 

The streets are divided into three general categories: 
(1) wide streets, where the snow is piled in two rows, 
leaving a central space of from fifteen to twenty-five feet 
wide, provisionally; it is to be widened if time permits, 
either by piling the snow upon the sidewalks or by put 
ting it all in one row; (2) narrow and crowded streets, 
from which the snow must be entirely removed; and (3) 
streets where it is to be piled in a single row to remain 
until it melts. 

The sweeping-machines are provided with special 


brooms, prepared in advance, which have steel wires 
mixed in with the ordinary piassava. These can be sub 
stituted very quickly for the common broom. This system 
has the great advantage that it allows the use of a ma 
chine which is known to all and which is made ready for 
snow work in a moment. An extra horse is required. 
A rude sort of snow-plow is used to make the first open 
ing in the middle of the street. 

The use of salt for melting the snow is carried to a 
considerable extent. Pure, fine salt for this purpose is 
delivered at the railway-stations at about six dollars 
per gross ton the state and city taxes, which amount 
to thirty-two dollars, being remitted. It was first used 
on a large scale in 1880. It produces a dark-colored 
slush, with a temperature of about 10 F., which will not 
freeze unless the thermometer falls below this degree. 
When it does not interfere too much with traffic in the 
streets it is often left in phce for several days, because 
it does not freeze and is to a considerable extent a pre 
ventive of slipping. If it becomes too thick it is removed 
with scrapers or with sweeping-machines. "Another 
property that is much appreciated in the use of salt in 
Paris is that it is the more rapid the more active the 
traffic; on streets of great travel the snow of the salted 
surface is reduced to mud in two hours." 

The salt is spread from wheelbarrows by the shovel, 
and does not need to be very uniform. It is estimated 
that to melt packed snow to a depth of from one inch 
and a half to two inches about five ounces of salt are 
required per square yard. If the snow (packed) is six or 
eight inches deep, a surface layer is first melted and re 
moved, and the lower layer is salted in turn. So far as 
the very complete official report is concerned, no account 


is taken of the effect of the salt-and-snow mixture on the 
health of the people, which is here thought to be serious. 

From those parts of the city which are conveniently 
near the snow is dumped into the Seine, either at the 
landings or through openings in the parapet walls, which 
are closed after the winter weather is over. For remoter 
districts the sewer-openings are used as much as possible. 
Special snow-openings are made in the larger sewers. 
As much water as possible is run into them, and men 
standing on the banquettes of the sewers push the snow 
forward. There are used for the snow service 512 ordi 
nary manholes and 121 special snow-openings. 

As above stated, before 1880 the removal of snow was 
carried on by the city alone, with its own forces and 
thousands of workmen hired for the occasion. These it 
had to supply with tools, and it had to arrange for their 
regular and frequent payment. From lack of organiza 
tion and discipline these men did slow work, and they 
were all the more ready to take advantage of the situa 
tion because they were working for the public. It was 
therefore determined, following the custom in other 
European cities, to let out portions of the work to con 
tractors. The city was divided into sections, well regu 
lated as to convenience of carting and dumping, and a 
price was fixed per cubic meter for loading and removal. 
The administration, with its own men and machines, piles 
the snow in rows, and the contractors cart it away. This 
division of the work has been very satisfactory, especially 
with regard to rapidity of handling. 

In addition to the above, certain work beyond their 
contract obligations is done by the omnibus and tramway 
companies, the city furnishing them sweeping-machines 
and scrapers, which they operate with their own teams. 

12V PARIS 149 

The order of work is as follows: If snow falls in the 
daytime, the workmen, without waiting for it to stop, 
use their brooms, shovels, and hand-scrapers to move it 
toward the sides of the streets and from sidewalks in 
front of public property. House-owners do the same for 
their walks, urged thereto by the authorities. In this 
way the effort is made immediately to clear a sufficient 
width for foot-passengers and for vehicles. 

Efforts are especially concentrated on streets of the 
first importance. If at the time of beginning work the 
snow is as much as four inches deep, so that it cannot 
be moved by hand, then the sweeping-machines are used 
for the middle of the carriageway, and the snow is piled 
in rows by the men. 

If the morning finds a depth of six or eight inches, 
the horse snow-plows (or side-scrapers) are used to open 
a width of from fifteen to twenty-five feet. These are 
followed by sweeping-machines. If these means do not 
suffice to bare the pavement, or when travel has packed 
the snow almost to the consistency of ice, it is heavily 
sanded or is treated with salt to melt it. Freedom of 
circulation being thus assured, the carting is begun, and 
the men are sent to clear the streets of the second class, 
and the snow is carted from them. If a thaw has not 
set in by this time, the streets of the third class are 
cleared in their turn. 

As soon as a thaw begins, nearly all the contract cart 
ing is suspended, and the hydrants are opened; all the 
sweeping-machines are set at work, the slush is pushed 
toward the sewer inlets, "and in a short time the city 
has taken on its usual aspect." 

The foregoing has been gleaned from the official reports 
of the " Directions of Works " of the Department of the. 


Seine. It is written after nearly two weeks' struggle 
with the very heavy and badly drifted snow of December 
15, and when the banks and piles of snow in three quar 
ters of the streets of New York are frozen solid. I have 
tried in vain to find a way in which the Paris prescription 
could have been made to give us relief. 


London is the most unsatisfactory town imaginable as 
a place in which to study municipal administration. It 
is an agglomeration of separate communities. 

The " County Council," which controls the whole area 
in a general way and for some specific purposes, has no 
voice in the direction of local affairs, beyond establishing 
standards below which local work must not fall. 

The " City " of London occupies a central area cover 
ing only one square mile in the heart of the town. It 
has a night population of only about 37,000, but its day 
population is about eight times as large, while more than 
a million persons enter it on every week-day, and its 
street traffic is enormous, nearly a hundred thousand 
carriages entering it daily. Surrounding this on all sides 
are some forty independent parishes and districts, each 
with its own local vestry or board, which directs all its 
local municipal affairs. The entire population of London 
is not far from five millions. There is no conspicuous 
dividing-line between the parishes; it is one great, solidly 
built town, with much uniformity of appearance. It is 
only when one attempts to study its methods of public 
work that its composite character appears, 


The methods followed in the City are in a general way 
a type of the whole varied in almost every case in minor 
details, to learn all of which would result in little valu 
able addition to common knowledge of street-cleaning 
operations. I shall therefore confine my remarks mainly 
to what is done in the City. The work here is under the 
control of the Commissioners of Sewers, whose engineer 
directs it. It includes street-cleaning, street-watering 
and washing, dusting, and removal of trade refuse. The 
force employed in 1896 consisted of 200 men, 180 boys, 
and 99 horses. There were used 79 vans, 16 water- 
wagons, with sweeping-machines, etc. 

The arrangement of the work is as follows: All of the 
streets are swept daily, and in hot weather the main 
thoroughfares are squeegeed two or three times a day. 
The boys constituting the " street-orderly " system work 
on all the main streets and on some of the secondary 
ones. These active youngsters with their pans and 
brushes gather up the horse-droppings almost as they 
fall, emptying them into boxes fixed for the purpose at 
the edge of the sidewalk. They begin work at 7 : 30 A. M., 
and cease at 4:30 P. M. in winter, and at 5 P. M. in sum 
mer. On the more important streets they are kept at 
work three hours later, with excellent effect. The 
sweeping, by hand and with machines, is done entirely 
at night, after eight o'clock, when carriage traffic is 
nearly over. It continues until eight or nine in the 
morning. The streets are thus subjected to almost con 
tinuous hand-cleansing. In addition to this, when the 
weather is suitable, and when it is useful to do so, they 
are washed with the hose and jet. This must always be 
done late at night, when nearly all carriage traffic has 


The courts and alleys occupied by the poorer classes 
are cleaned every day by the manual forces, and from 
April to October they are washed two or three times 
a week. Some places are washed nearly every night 
throughout the year. About 25,000,000 U. S. gallons of 
water are used in this way. 

The sidewalks are swept as occasion requires, and in 
hot weather they are cleaned with squeegees in the day 
time. The collection of street-sweepings, refuse, and 
rubbish is very large, and is increasing, as is the cost of 
the work. In 1895 there were collected 30,812 loads of 
"street-sweepings and slop," and 41,821 loads of house 
and trade refuse. The total removal of the year averages 
233 loads per day for six days in the week. The engineer 
reports, with regard to trade refuse, that the habit of 
throwing it "into the dust-bins or other receptacles 
which should be used only for the ashes and ordinary 
house refuse appears to be much on the increase; and if 
this continues it must add largely to the cost of collec 
tion and the difficulty of getting rid of it when collected. 
It never was contemplated that the commission should 
remove trade refuse without being adequately paid for 
it. To do so is to benefit particular traders at the ex 
pense of the citizens generally." 

I ask for this quotation the very thoughtful attention 
of those "traders" in New York who feel themselves 
greatly aggrieved if the city ash-carts are even slow or 
irregular in removing the refuse of their business. The 
complainers are always " taxpayers," but they seem to 
disregard the right of their fellow-citizens not to have 
their taxes saddled with the cost of other men's business 

The collections of all kinds are taken to a wharf on 


the south side of the Thames, where they are roughly 
sorted. What is valuable as manure is boated away to 
the country. All else, after the salable refuse is culled 
out, is shot into a " destructor," or cremator. This ap 
paratus works day and night throughout the year, save 
for from fifteen to twenty days, when it is stopped for re 
pairs and cleaning. By the last report, it destroyed in 
the year 23,117 loads (66 loads per day), leaving about 22 J 
per cent, of " ashes and clinkers, more or less hard, but 
valueless, and for the removal of which the commission 
had to pay." 

As is the case in so many other places, the question of 
final disposition is engaging the very serious attention of 
the authorities. In competition with concentrated fer 
tilizers, street manure will not bear distant transporta 
tion. As populations grow larger the increasing output 
adds to the difficulty, and there seems to be no escape 
from the requirement for the conversion of the material 
into an inoffensive product, by an inoffensive process, 
within a practicable distance of the point of production. 

English opinion seems to have become fixed on crema 
tion as the only adequate means of relief. At the same 
time, it is not yet shown that cremation can be carried 
on without giving rise to nuisance, or at least to annoy 
ance. Mr. Codrington, engineering inspector of the 
Local Government Board, in his report of 1888 as to 
twenty depots at which destructors had been erected, 
said, "Experience has shown that town refuse can be 
effectually burned in destructors and other furnaces 
without causing nuisance or offense at or about the 
works themselves"; but he adds that complaints are re 
ceived of "fine dust and sometimes of charred paper 
proceeding from the chimney and falling at some little 


distance off," also of " an offensive smell, which, under 
certain conditions of the atmosphere, can be recognized 
at some distance on the leeward side of the chimney," 
If the chimney is ^built high enough to protect the imme 
diate neighborhood the annoyance is only carried to more 
distant points. The only thing that is clear about the 
whole matter is that municipalities will have to face a 
greatly increased outlay to protect the people against 
the results of the increased production of wastes which 
must be got rid of, and the cost of whose disposal ad 
vances in progressive ratio as the material to be dealt 
with grows greater. 

In 1893 the medical officer and the engineer of the 
London County Council made a report on " dust-destruc 
tors "--"dust" being the English for all manner of 
household wastes. It was calculated that the yearly 
quantity collected amounts to " about 260 tons per 1000 
of the population." This would be about 1,300,000 tons 
for all London, or about 580 pounds for each person.* 

The analysis of the material shows that it contains 
about eight per cent, (or 104,000 tons) of what would be 
salable in New York, including paper, bottles, broken 
glass, tin cans, bones, rags, and metals. No account is 
here made of wood, rubber shoes, leather shoes, hats, 
corks, strings, and some other trifles which are culled for 
sale by the scow-trimmers of New York. 

At depots where cremation is not in use the method of 
handling is essentially the same as that described by Dr. 
Ballard in his report to the medical officer of the Local 
Government Board in 1878, which is briefly as follows: 

The dust is dumped in the yard, where men and boys 

* The annual output in New York is not far from 1250 pounds per 


proceed to sort it, dragging the heap over with forks and 
rakes, collecting the bones, rags, etc. These are assorted 
into heaps and baskets. What is left is sifted to recover. 
the bits of unburned coal. "The sifting is performed 
usually by women, who sit on or close to the heaps, having 
one or more baskets by their side and a riddle in their 
hands. A shovelful from the heap is shaken in the 
riddle, and the ashes and dust having passed through, 
what remains on the riddle is examined, and bones, 
potatoes, bits of iron, etc., not removed by the first 
dragging process are picked out." The coal and coke are 
thrown on a separate heap. He says: "The sorting pro 
cess is a degrading occupation. The women employed 
are often seen covered almost to the waist with refuse, 
and they continually inhale into their lungs air polluted 
by the surrounding accumulations of dust." Large heaps 
of material are almost always to be found in the con 
tractors' yards. The removal by barge, on which London 
is so dependent, is often interrupted by ice; the cargoes 
taint the air along the banks of the canals; and even 
when they reach their destination, the question of ren 
dering them innocuous is still unanswered. The natural 
solution is to shoot the stuff " in some sparsely inhabited 
district where public opinion is not strong enough effec 
tually to resent its being deposited." This was written 
nearly twenty years ago, and the case has grown worse 
year by year. 

The report of 1893 says: "The merit of the destructor 
is, however, in a sense the main drawback to its popu 
larity. The old system enjoys the great advantage that 
it quickly removes all cause of offense from general view, 
and few persons trouble themselves about the railway- 
siding or the canal wharf or the shoot in the country. 


The destructor, if it is to establish the claim that it 
deals with the refuse from the outset, must be situated 
near inhabited houses, and its chimney cannot fail to 
excite attention. Again, if the destructor causes nui 
sance, it will mainly affect those living at a considerable 
distance from it, and thus it excites opposition, not of 
the inhabitants of houses in the poorer districts, which 
presumably exist in the neighborhood of the depot, but 
of the richer and much more critical population living 
half a mile or a mile away. It thus happens that, while 
few complaints are received concerning crude forms of 
furnace with short chimney-shafts, such as are found in 
many dust-yards and are used sometimes merely for 
burning paper, sometimes for dealing with vegetable 
refuse and ordinary house dust, considerable objection is 
made to much more perfect appliances furnished with 
lofty chimney-shafts." The final conclusion is that every 
appliance should be of the best and should be carefully 
worked and managed, "and under these conditions we 
think that the destruction of refuse by fire may be 
effected with success and without the production of 

The City is more important than any other single dis 
trict of London; but it will not be without interest to 
refer briefly to the parish of Paddington, which has its 
disposal-works on the basin of a canal connecting with 
the system by which the northern part of London is 
served, and whence barges are sent into the country. 

Paddington wharf was suggested to me as a good point 
to visit, because it has not only the depot of the parish 
itself, but also the works of two contractors who clean 
the parishes of St. George (Hanover Square), St. James, 
and Marylebone. Simple machinery, supplemented by 


hand-labor, is used in the sorting. At the Paddington 
depot, which is well paved and drained and well kept, 
27 hands are employed, about half of the number being 
women. The work is carried on under cover. During 
the year (1895-96) 27,445 loads of dust were collected. 
The weekly range of loads was from 383 to 663. There 
were abstracted from this 313J (gross) tons of salable 
material, as follows: coal, 9 tons; bones, 55 tons; rags, 
144 tons; iron, 60 tons; various other metals, 4j tons; 
white glass, 14 tons; colored glass, 36 tons. 

The scrapings and sweepings from the streets are shot 
directly into the boats. " Slop " from wet streets goes 
first into a sort of cage, from which the dirty ooze runs 
into the canal, the more solid residue being boated away 
at a cost, including carting, boating, and unloading, of 
47 cents per ton. . 

At the contractors' wharves the same conditions pre 
vail, but there was rather less neatness of management. 
No statistics were to be had concerning their operations. 
They are under control of the vestry as to matters of 

The collection of dust in Paddington was until recently 
made only when a card with the letter " D " was exposed 
in the window; but the County Council now enforces a 
by-law requiring the sanitary authority of the parish to 
" cause to be removed not less frequently than once in 
every week the house refuse produced on the premises." 
The medical officer says that the system appears to work 
very satisfactorily, but at an increased cost. 

The street-cleaning is carried out by gangs of sweep 
ers, with horse-machines for scraping and sweeping. 
Main thoroughfares and important streets are swept 
daily, especially those paved with wood. Other streets 


of less traffic are swept two or three times a week. 
Slippery pavements are sanded, especially in frosty 

The general appearance of the streets in London as 
to cleanliness is much the same as that in New York so 
far as its more important thoroughfares are concerned. 
There is about the same amount of littering with paper 
and other refuse. The less important streets, which are 
swept only twice or thrice a week, are not so clean as 
ours, which are all swept at least once every day. But 
the pavement of London is much better. 


Birmingham is a great, fine, dull, humdrum town, with 
about one quarter of the population of New York. So 
it must strike the visitor who comes to it fresh from the 
greater continental cities and from London. To the 
student of municipal administration it reveals a perfec 
tion of system, of executive completeness, and of economy 
which, if his standards have been formed in America, 
is simply amazing. It is well kept in all respects; yet 
the total appropriation for its Department of Public 
Works, including maintenance and all repairs of road 
ways, street-cleaning, the disposal of wastes, the care of 
the sewers, flushing and street-sprinkling, all stable 
expenses, including renewal of plant and stock, public 
lighting, and providing and maintaining of urinals, etc., 
for the year 1896-97, is, after crediting certain items of 
income, only $503,000. This result is possible only be 
cause of the perfect business management of all city 


affairs. Such economy will never be possible here so 
long as " politics " has anything whatever to do with our 
municipal administration. Naturally the lower rate of 
wages in England accounts for much of the saving; but 
the rate there is only about fifty per cent, less than it 
is here, and, at most, the payment of our wages would not 
raise the total outlay as above to more than $800,000. 

The work in the streets, including repairs of pavement 
and macadam, sweeping and removal of sweepings, and 
all sprinklings, employs about 400 men (who work 54 
hours per week) and about 160 horses. The gang-leaders 
are paid from $6 to $7 per week, drivers get from $5.50 
to $6, and sweepers, $5.25. Selected men of this force 
do the road-repairing, being paid, in addition to their 
regular wages, a price by the piece for this work. 

There are about 250 miles of street, of which about 40 
miles are swept daily, 100 miles thrice a week, 100 miles 
twice a week, and 10 miles once a week. 

There is one chief (road-surveyor) over the whole 
work, who is paid $2500 per year, and six district fore 
men, who get nearly $600 per year. 

Most of the more important streets are paved with 
wood. This becomes very slippery, and it is regularly 
sanded with a crushed "grit," having some fragments 
of broken quartz or flint as large as peas and hazelnuts. 
This is spread from a cart with a shovel, and the men 
who do this work are so expert that they can make an 
effective covering of the whole street (30 to 45 feet wide) 
with the use of only 1 load to the mile. In Fifth Avenue, 
last winter, the contractor was restricted to the use of 4 
loads per block, which would be 80 loads to the mile. 
There is no record of the amount used, but there is a 
vivid recollection in the Department of Street-Cleaning 


that it was enormous. Probably the day is not distant 
when we shall have to sand at least our asphalt streets, 
and it is a comfort to know that the quantity of sand 
used need not constitute an embarrassment to the work 
of cleaning. It is to be hoped, too, that the example of 
Birmingham may be heeded by the managers of our 
street-railways, which are now sanded with a wonder 
fully lavish hand. 

Birmingham has a very large proportion of macada 
mized roadway, and it is of most excellent quality, well 
made, and constantly kept in repair. The work is done 
by the city's own force, and nothing is shirked. In minor 
streets the macadam is 21 feet wide. It is 4 inches 
higher at the center than at the edges. The material is 
20 inches deep. The bed is graded to a true form and 
is rolled. The bottom layer, 8 inches thick, consists of 
damp ashes, rolled. On this is placed an 8-inch layer of 
gravel or broken slag, also rolled. Then follows a cov 
ering of " ragstone," or granite crushed to pass through 
a 2j-inch ring; this is rolled dry. Next comes a " bind 
ing " of crushed grit, which is rolled in wet, but not too 
wet, and is worked into the stone as thoroughly as pos 
sible. This makes a capital road, which is easily cleaned 
by scraping, and by sweeping with the birch-broom. 

The most interesting part of the cleaning work of this 
city is that which has to do with the disposal of its 
wastes. Only about one half of its population is supplied 
with water-closets. The other half still use out-of-door 
" conveniences." These are supplied with " pans," which 
are regularly removed. There are about 36,000 of these. 
They are cylindrical in shape, 18 inches in diameter, and 
15 inches deep. Household slops are not emptied into 
them. The pans are removed once a week. The removal 


is at night, from 10 P. M. to 8 A. M. They are covered 
with closely fitting covers, and are carried in closed 
vans, which take 18 at a time, and which have a recep 
tacle at the tail end into which ash-tub refuse is emptied. 
The average weight of a van, when fully loaded, is about 
8500 pounds. 

There are three well-equipped yards, adjacent to canals, 
to which the pans are taken. One of these I visited. 
The van starts out from the yard with 18 clean pans, 
which are left in the privies from which the used ones 
are removed. On returning to the yard the pans are 
emptied into tanks, and are then turned over to the 
washers, who see that each van is supplied with clean 
pans to take out. The vans make from three to five 
journeys a night. This collection employs 61 horses and 
122 men. 

For the collection of dry refuse from shops and from 
houses which are furnished with water-closets (where 
no pans are used) 33 horses and 66 men are employed. 
This work is done in the daytime. The total weight of 
the dry refuse collected is about 35,000 tons per year. 
In the emptying of ash-pits on private premises, of which 
a considerable number still remain, 40 horses and 74 men 
are employed. The material thus collected amounts to 
about 50,000 tons in the year. Much of this is valueless 
as manure, less than 20,000 tons being used. 

The making of fertilizers is an important part of the 
work. The dry refuse is screened in rotating screens, 
which separate the fine ash from the coarser parts, from 
which tin cans, broken crockery, etc., are picked out by 
hand. Rags are not saved. Part of the fine ash is mixed 
as an absorbent with the contents of the pans, and is 
sold as manure, being run from the mixing-machines 


directly into boats. The demand for this is decreasing, 
as concentrated fertilizers are gaining in favor with 

The combustible material, including garbage, is burned 
in destructors, or cremating-furnaces, of which the city 
has about 50 in operation. The heat of these furnaces 
generates steam, which is used to evaporate the moisture 
of the pan contents, making a concentrated manure, and 
to furnish power to drive the mixing machinery, etc. 
The refuse passed through the furnaces is reduced to 
about thirty per cent, of its original weight. The clinker 
produced is employed for various purposes. Much is 
used by builders for concrete and mortar. It is also ex 
tensively used in road-making. As it is entirely free 
from offensive matter, it can be used without objection 
for filling low lands, for building roads, etc. The quantity 
burned in each furnace is given as 36j tons per week 
(132 hours). 

So much of the pan contents as is not mixed with 
ashes and so sold is manufactured into a highly con 
centrated manure by evaporation. The raw material is 
emptied into tanks, where it is treated with sulphuric 
acid to fix the ammonia against evaporation. From these 
it is run into other tanks over the drying-machines. 
These contain pipes which carry the vapors from the 
driers. The exhaust steam from the engines is similarly 
utilized, raising the contents of the tanks to near the 

The steam- jacketed drying-machines consist of cylin 
ders 8 feet in diameter and 13 feet long. Each has a 
hollow shaft, through which steam passes. They are also 
provided with revolving arms for stirring the contents 
and preventing them from forming into lumps. Suitable 


scrapers prevent the collection of drying matters on the 
surfaces. The foul vapor of the machines is arrested in 
a Liebig condenser. The water of condensation passes 
to the sewer in a nearly inodorous condition, and the 
gases are passed through the fire. After evaporation 
the dried material is ground in a mill. 

The working charge of the machine is 16 tons, and 
the dry manure resulting weighs about Ij tons. From 
800 to 1000 tons are produced each year. It sells for 
about $30 per ton. 

By the statistics of 1892, the total refuse collected 
was 185,200 tons (of 2240 pounds). This was disposed 
of as follows: 


Sent to dumps away from the city by boats 16,753 

Sent to dumps by carts .... 7,515 

Burned in furnaces 74,243 

Manure sold, or wasted at dumps . . 86,689 

Total 185,200 

The city owns and operates 34 canal-boats. None of 
the work is done by contract. It is found that under 
business management the agents of the administration 
can secure the greatest economy. 

The items of receipts referred to in the early part of 
this paper do not include the sale of fertilizers. No 
reference to this is made in the annual estimates of the 
department. It is probably, like our own receipts from 
scow-trimming, paid into the general fund. 

The chief lesson to be learned from Birmingham and 
its methods are duplicated in English towns generally 
is the lesson of non-political, non-shirking, and non-poor- 
man-coddling business management of public affairs. 
It shows us that a department of public works should 


not be a department of charities, and that aside from 
proper and generous public charity the money of the 
taxpayer should be used with the same care and economy 
that are so imperatively necessary to the successful man 
agement of private works. 

A word of explanation is proper as to the " poor-man " 
element of the problem, and it applies to the question 
of public wages as well. The sympathies of all must be 
moved by the needs of the pauper class. The class that 
is obliged to work at hard labor is the happiest class in 
the community when it has employment, and sympathy 
for it should be limited to its fears for a rainy day and 
to its unsatisfied laudable ambition to get 'ahead in the 
world. All must desire security and relief for the one 
and advancement for the other. The best way to secure 
these is through the general prosperity of the community. 
This cannot be advanced by favoring a special few who 
are lucky enough to get a place on the city pay-roll, at 
the cost of the multitude who have to pay the shot. 
Fair wages for honest work is all that a wise and benefi 
cent government can properly give to any man from the 
public purse, unless he is a pauper who must be kept 
from suffering. Too good a chance for the poor man 
only crowds the ranks with those who flock in from 
abroad, and it makes life all the harder for those with 
whom these come into competition. 


New York has about ten times the population of 
Brussels and about six times the amount of street to be 


cleaned. The cost of street-cleaning in New York is 
$3,000,000; in Brussels it is $100,000 (500,000 francs). 
The cost per person of the population here is about 
$1.50; there it is about 50 cents. The cost per mile here 
is about $7000; there it is $1350. Wages here are $2 
per day; there they are 50 cents per day. 

Disregarding wages, and making the comparison by 
day's work, we find that in New York the working-force 
equals 5j men per mile of street, while the Brussels 
force is 4-ro men per mile. 

The work in Brussels is excellently well done, and the 
whole administration is good. It is all under the control 
of one director, Mr. Smeyers, who has organized the en 
tire service, and who has won great credit for it. The 
work comprises: 

1. The sweeping of all the streets and public places, 
and the cleansing of the outlying park, the Bois de la 

2. The removal of all sweepings and house wastes. 

3. Street-sprinkling, and the flushing of streets, alleys, 
and courts. 

4. The cleansing of sewer inlets. 

5. The care of urinals. 

6. Disinfection on the public highways. 

7. The collection and removal of the wastes of the 
abattoir and of the fish-market. 

8. The removal of snow and ice. 

9. The sale of the collections for fertilizing, or their 
removal to a depot some four miles from the city, on the 
canal to the Scheldt. 

10. The administration of the personnel of the service, 
the manufacture and maintenance of carts, tools, etc., 
the purchase of horses and forage, etc. 


N. B. It is forbidden to discharge any street-sweep 
ings into the sewers. 

The department dates back to 1560, when the wastes 
of the town were deposited at the point now occupied 
by the main depot. Since 1853 the work has been greatly 
improved and systematized. 

The present station and the canal basin were com 
pleted in 1865. Formerly the street-cleaning was done 
by a contractor, who paid the city for the privilege, 
selling the manure, etc., on his own account. The city 
received 6960 francs in 1836, the amount increasing until 
in 1846 it reached 26,940 francs. Later the work was 
taken in hand by the city, and the profit reached 75,505 
francs in 1856. The construction and use of sewers soon 
reduced the amount of night-soil to be collected and 
sold, and as the sanitary condition improved the financial 
returns fell off. The people, too, became more and more 
exacting in the matter of complete sweeping and better 
sprinkling, so that in 1858 there was a net outlay of 
11,950 francs, which by 1865 had grown to 102,000 francs. 
This led the Council to let out the work for an annual 
payment by the city of 81,000 francs. 

Experience showed that this was not a good plan. 
There was a perfect deluge of reclamations and of com 
plaints of bad service, and public dissatisfaction became 
so great that in 1871 the city again undertook the work 
on its own account, with the satisfactory results that 
have continued until this day. 

The limited size of the city allows the concentration 
of all the main appliances of the service at one point, 
the Quai de la Voierie, near the custom-house, in the 
northwest part of the city. A large basin has been 
formed in connection with the canal, and the buildings 


of the department are separated from this by a broad 
esplanade. The carts, wagons, sweeping-machines, and 
water-carts are stored in the building. There is stabling 
for the 80 horses used, the necessary storage-room and 
shops, and a destructor, recently built on the English 
model. There are residences and offices for the director 
and his staff, and the whole establishment has the well- 
kept air of a military post. Eight iron canal-boats con 
stitute the removal fleet. These are loaded from the 
carts along the esplanade. The refuse is picked over by 
the men themselves, and they are allowed to sell what 
they cull out for their own account. The sweeping of 
the streets is done mainly by hand, with the occasional 
accessory use of sweeping-machines, which work only at 
night. The city is divided into eleven sections, and the 
outlying park forms a twelfth. Each section has its 
supervisor, who is responsible for all details of its work 
to the director, who is in turn accountable to the magis 
trate of public works. 

The supervisors work in accordance with certain gen 
eral regulations, but they are allowed much discretion as 
to methods, as the conditions to be met are very various. 

The work of sweeping, sprinkling, flushing, and disin 
fection begins at four in summer and at five in winter. 
It continues, according to needs, until three or four in 
the afternoon. A half-hour is allowed for breakfast, 
and an hour for the midday meal. On Sunday work 
ceases at eleven. The sweepers work in groups on the 
heaviest part of the work during the first two hours of 
the day. 

At six in summer and at seven in winter the collection 
with the carts begins. The groups of sweepers are then 
broken up; about seventy of them are detailed to help 


the drivers to load their carts, and the others repair to 
their appointed routes, which they care for during the 
rest of the day. Some of them sprinkle the main streets, 
the boulevards, and the roads of the Bois de la Cambre 
with the hose and jet. The streets are sprinkled through 
out the day with water-carts. 

For the collection of house wastes the city is divided 
into 68 routes, each having its own cart, which makes two 
or three trips, according to distance. The carts take up 
the sweepings as they go. They are very large, and the 
loads average 2-nr cubic yards, which is about one half 
more than the New York load. The house collections are 
finished about ten or eleven o'clock, except on Fridays and 
Saturdays, when they may last a couple of hours longer. 

The sprinkling of the streets is mainly done by drivers 
selected from among those who have cleaned up their 
routes. In dry weather the sweepers sprinkle with the 
hose the spaces which they are to sweep. This early 
sprinkling, the flushing of gutters, and the washing of 
courts make it possible to delay the use of the water- 
carts until somewhat late in the day. It is estimated 
that from April to September 1,000,000 gallons of water 
are used daily for the street service. 

In each section one man has the care of the urinals; 
he is also charged with the disinfection of all places in 
his section which require such treatment. 

The removal of the detritus of the abattoir and of the 
fish-market is, as far as possible, done at night, with 
covered wagons specially constructed for the purpose. 

Concerning the removal of snow and ice, as I had no 
occasion to see its actual performance, I translate all 
that is said about it in the director's memorandum of 
the service: 


"To effect the prompt disappearance of snow, its 
melting is secured with the aid of salt, containing at 
least ninety per cent, of chloride of sodium. This salt 
costs about four dollars per ton. 

" The use of salt has sometimes been criticized. Its 
use in Brussels is justified by its economy, and also be 
cause the city has in its territory not a single place 
where the snow taken from the streets could be piled; it 
would all have to be dumped into the covered river (la 
Senne) which lies under the central boulevards. Four 
teen manholes for this purpose have been built in the 
arch. The extraordinary work that has to be done in 
time of snow is the subject of a special organization, 
conforming to the depth of the fall. On such occasions 
the administration gathers all men out of work who are 
capable of holding a shovel or a broom. These are very 
numerous at this season of the year." 

The collected wastes are offered for sale as manure 
at a tariff of prices fixed by the Administration of the 
Commune. It is mainly sent out in boats. What fails 
to find a purchaser is sent about four miles out on the 
canal and deposited on city property at Schaerbeek. 

Assorted sweepings are offered " free on board " cars 
at Schaerbeek for 40 cents per ton. Its agricultural 
value, by analysis, is two or three times this price. An 
other notice informs those who live in the city or its 
suburbs that the department will furnish the same ma 
terial by the cart-load at their residences; and that it 
is an "excellent manure for lawns, vegetable-gardens, 
pleasure-gardens, and greenhouses." The price is ac 
cording to distance, the minimum being 80 cents per ton. 
The sales in 1894 amounted to $11,330, which was twelve 
percent, of the net expense of the street-cleaning service. 


The authorities of Brussels have paid much attention 
to the question of cremation, to be applied not only to 
garbage and other offensive matters, but to the whole 
mass of material collected by the department. A com 
mission was sent to England in 1887 to examine the 
methods there in use. They reported in favor of the 
adoption of the system then working at Leeds, this to 
be applied to all the wastes in times of epidemic. In the 
absence of this condition, only so much would be cre 
mated as could not be sold. 

The conclusions of the commission were the subject 
of a long discussion in 1891, and were adopted by a vote 
of seventeen to four. 

The report of 1894 describes the installation of two 
furnaces, built together, having a combined length of 
37J feet, a width of 14j feet, and a height of 13i feet. 
These furnaces stand near the stables on the north side 
of the yard, opposite to the weigh-bridge. They are 
found to answer a good purpose, and they are to be added 
to until capacity is secured sufficient for the incineration 
of the entire output in time of need. 

A careful examination of the street-cleaning organi 
zation of Brussels produces the impressions of great 
completeness and of most careful and successful admin 
istration. It is, taken all in all, the best thing of its 
kind that I found during my investigations. The reason 
for its success is not far to seek. It is the result of 
that " aristocracy in official affairs " that our politicians 
are wont to decry when they discuss civil-service reform. 
It is due to the fact that every man in the service is 
assured of the stability of his position, and is safe in 
devoting his entire thought and energy to his work. 
" Rotation in office " and " the expiration of his term of 


appointment " do not disturb him. He need only do his 
work well and faithfully, and his future is assured. He 
is very ill paid from our standpoint, but he can live 
comfortably on his pay, and he is well cared for and well 
thought of. 

The benefit fund of the department in 1894 received 
from its members $1272, the city added $1228, and other 
receipts swelled the total to $2837. 

It paid to those who were sick $1970; doctors' fees, $343; 
medicine and surgery, $330; funeral expenses, $58; special 
aid to workmen, $91; expenses, $7.60; in all, $2799.60. 

" N. B. The delegates of the workmen have had four 
meetings in the year 1894, in which they have been able 
to assure themselves that no expense foreign to the aims 
of the institution has been carried into the account." 


The only remaining places visited concerning which it 
seems to be worth while to give an account are Munich, 
Cologne, Turin, and Genoa. 

The work in Munich is noticeable chiefly for its nega 
tive qualities. The streets are kept in very fair condi 
tion, mainly by contractors, the city doing the work on 
asphalt streets a limited area and charging the cost 
to the property-owners. As a rule, nearly the whole 
service that is performed by the Department of Street- 
Cleaning in New York is in Munich done by contractors 
employed and paid by private individuals. The street- 
railway companies clean their own tracks and the space 
between the rails. This is done, and very well done, by 


sturdy young women. They wore, last summer, no dis 
tinctive dress, but were distinguished by a uniform straw 

Cologne was a great surprise to me. I remembered 
its condition twenty-five years ago, and had had very 
little occasion to notice it since. I found it scrupulously 
clean cleaner than any other place that I saw in Europe, 
not only in its central show parts, but in its outlying and 
more obscure quarters as well. My earlier observation 
had recalled Coleridge's lines: 

The river Rhine, it is well known, 
Doth wash your city of Cologne; 
But tell me, nymphs! what power divine 
Shall henceforth wash the river Rhine? 

The " thousand and one stenches " for which the old 
city was noted have disappeared, and eau de Cologne no 
longer suggests a misnomer. The details of the method 
of work are similar to those of other continental cities 
and very similar to our own. The people seem to be 
well trained. Respect for the cleanliness of the streets 
has become a second nature. There is very little litter 
ing with paper and trash ; receptacles are not set out long 
in advance of the arrival of the carts, and all of the de 
tails of the work and of the regulations by which it is 
directed are well thought out, well administered by the 
officials, and well received by the population. 

Turin is very little behind Cologne in any respect. Its 
department is well organized, and here at last we found 
a distinctive street-cleaner's uniform, regularly worn 
and regularly inspected, and kept in good order. In 
winter the men wear high-crowned felt hats; in summer 
their hats, of the same shape, were of mixed straw, pro- 


ducing a light-brownish effect. The uniform is of a 
striped blue-and-white cotton goods, rather heavy, and 
rather given to fade under washing and exposure to the 
sun, but very good withal. The men trundle heavy hand 
carts, after the manner of Vienna and Budapest, and the 
systems of collection and removal of sweepings are much 
the same. Turin covers a large area, and is the center 
of an active traffic, which brings many horses and mules 
into the city, in addition to the cavalry and artillery 
regiments stationed there. The ordinary work is done 
by 1 superintendent, 8 foremen, 84 special sweepers, 100 
ordinary sweepers, and such a number of auxiliary 
sweepers as the work of the moment may require. These 
are usually needed only in emergencies. The pay of the 
superintendent is 60 cents per day; of the foremen, 50 
cents; of the special sweepers, 45 cents; and of all others, 
40 cents. The requirements for admission to the depart 
ment are a knowledge of reading and writing, and age 
between 20 and 30 years, robust health, and a certificate 
of good character. The men are retired at the age of 
40. Promotions are made for merit or by seniority. The 
most striking feature of the work in this city is its very 
low cost. The population was given to me as 340,000. 
Yet the whole expense of the department is only 532,500 
lire (about $96,000). This is divided as follows: 

The chief inspector . . . 2,500 lire 

Sweeping and carting . . . ^ . 220,000 " 
Sprinkling . . . .".".". 85,000 " 
Tools and material .' . . 25,000 " 
The removal of snow and ice \ . 200,000 " 

There are in the city and its suburbs about 8600 horses 
and mules. 


Genoa differs little from Turin in its methods of street- 
cleaning, and is not very far behind it in the matter of 
tidiness and cleanliness. Its condition, as I saw it, was 
very satisfactory, and Americans living there told me 
that it is always kept in good order. It is evidently 
fully up to the general European standard. The marvel 
of it all is that the cost of its work should be so little. 
The wages of the workmen, the highest being only 40 
cents per day, would seem not to be sufficient to account 
for the fact that the contractor who does the whole work 
has recently entered on a new engagement for four years, 
at an annual cost of $40,000. 

Here, as in Turin, there are two classes of police one 
for the care of the public safety, and one for the main 
tenance of order. The latter, who guard the condition 
of the streets, wear natty cloth caps and long coats, 
both black, and ornamented with black braid. They are 
armed with light canes topped with a heavy metal head 
like a slung-shot. This, or their dignified demeanor, 
commands great respect. 

In reviewing the whole subject of European street- 
cleaning as it came under my observation, the most 
important and suggestive consideration is that which 
concerns the relation of the people to the work, and, 
largely as leading to that, the manner in which the police 
intervene to prevent the littering of the streets. The 
regulations in European towns are no better than ours; 
the laws and ordinances are substantially the same; but 
there is the immense difference that in Europe laws and 
ordinances mean something and are executed, while here 
they are treated as mere matters of form. The police 
man in Turin would as soon think of letting a highway 
man escape his notice and official attention as of disre- 


garding a man who deliberately threw littering material 
into the street. I have seen policemen in Europe accost 
gentlemen, apparently foreigners, and politely but effec 
tively request them to pick up papers they had thrown 
away. I have seen policemen in New York and the 
spectacle is observable at every turn saunter in a dig 
nified manner past a crowd of littering people, utterly 
unconscious of the fact that they were violating any rule 
or regulation, and apparently considering it beneath the 
dignity of their position to heed the suggestion of a 
citizen, that they were not obeying their orders. Here 
lies unquestionably the great secret of the difference be 
tween our ways and European ways. 

As to methods available for the improvement of the 
New York system, very little was observed. As a rule, 
our carts are better than theirs, being lighter and 
tighter; our brooms are probably better; and our meth 
ods of final disposition are quite as good, owing, no doubt, 
to our much better conditions for dumping refuse. In 
deed, the only country in which important differences 
were found was Austria. The method of separating 
wastes at the point of final disposition in operation at 
Budapest was suggestive of very important improvements 
available here, So in Vienna I found the best street- 
sweeping machine, the best sprinkling-cart, and the best 
snow-plow. All of these will be tried here, and adopted 
if found sufficiently better than what we are now using. 

Another matter of especial interest to New-Yorkers is 
that our system of street-sprinkling is entirely unique. 
So far as I could learn, the world has never before con 
ceived of such a method where only that part of the 
street lying in front of property whose owner pays the 
private contractor a sprinkling-rate gets any sprinkling 


whatever, and where the volume of water used is regu 
lated by the sweet will of the driver, without restraint 
from any official authority. In Europe street-sprinkling 
is always under the control of the authority by which 
street-cleaning is regulated. It is a necessary and in 
separable part of the same work. There is a proposition 
now before our legislature to extend and to increase the 
street-sprinkling monopoly of this city. I trust that the 
people will insist on the defeat of this measure, and so 
avoid the further tying up of their interests in this 
respect with the financial interests of a street-drenching 
company with a pull, as at present. There is no more 
reason for farming out the work of sprinkling the streets 
than that of sweeping them. Both are functions of the 
municipal authorities, and should be kept under close 



TO arouse a civic pride among New-Yorkers is not 
distinctly within the province of the Department 
of Street-Cleaning. It is desirable, however, that 
an interest in the observation of the simple necessary rules 
of the Sanitary Code be awakened in the minds of at least 
the ignorant foreign population crowded into the East 
Side districts. To use for this end the influence of the 
children, who are recognized by their parents as superior 
to them in education and intelligence, is not a new idea, 
but one practically untried to any extent. The fund of 
patriotism with which every child of school age is en 
dowed constantly shows itself, and always with great 
strength. It is unfailing when drawn upon for the city's 
interests. Noting the zeal with which children have 
given themselves to such patriotic organizations as the 
Civic History clubs, and the equally excellent moral As 
sociation, the Anti-Cigarette League, it seemed possible 
to enlist their interest in the cleanliness of the city. 



A beginning was made in the lower East Side under 
the auspices of the University Settlement. A number 
of boys from the tenth and eleventh wards were organ 
ized into a club by a detailed Inspector of the department. 
Shortly after, two more were started at the Educational 
Alliance in East Broadway; and these were followed by 
one or more on the West Side and several in the upper 
part of the city. The plan of organization adopted was 
parliamentary in its nature; officers were elected, a con 
stitution prepared with a stated object "to keep the 
streets in a clean and healthful condition," and regular 
weekly business meetings were held. During these 
meetings there was a discussion of such ubjects as re 
lated to the health and cleanliness of the city. The 
club members were encouraged to report, on official 
blanks furnished them for the purpose, any work that 
they might have accomplished in the way of removing 
litter from the streets, inducing others not to throw out 
refuse, or noting certain blocks or houses where the 
people were careless in their habits or had a disregard 
for the sanitary laws. 

The movement was very popular with the children 
from the start. " Please may we have a club? " became 
a constant, almost daily, demand from committees of 
urchins all over the city. One such band came in one 
day with the same question. " And why do you wish a 
club?" said I. "Oh, the boys by our block they knock 
banana-shells and all dirty things in the street, and we 
want to reform them." " But perhaps the boys are very 
bad and don't want to be reformed," I suggested. " Oh, 
yes, they do," the little leader replied. " We asked them, 
and they all said they did." 

As institutions and missions came forward offering 


their rooms and requesting us to visit and address the 
children they gathered together, we were able to extend 
the work greatly. Many volunteer directors also organ 
ized clubs under our supervision, and thus spread our 
system and its influence. 

In the winter of 1896-97 the work gained such wide 
and favorable notice that certain civic organizations in 
Boston and Chicago sent representatives to investigate 
our methods for the purpose of starting similar work in 
those cities. Philadelphia, Brooklyn, Pittsburg, Utica, 
Denver, and numerous small cities and towns are taking 
up the idea, and report most satisfactory results. 

This past summer, by an arrangement with the Asso 
ciation for Improving the Condition of the Poor, five 
classes in the Norfolk Street Vacation School were or 
ganized as miniature departments of street-cleaning, for 
such work as that done by the outside clubs. So suc 
cessful did this new style of organization prove that the 
Board of Education authorized its introduction into all 
of the city schools of the four higher grades. 

The matter of clean streets is brought to the attention 
of the child in the class-room by short talks with fitting 
illustrations and anecdotes. He is made to feel a sense 
of personal possession in relation to the streets, which 
will cause him to keep from doing them an injury and 
also make him resent their littering by other people. 
Personal pride and patriotic feeling are stirred, and the 
matter is brought closely home by showing that, of the 
hundreds who suffer from clogged and ill-smelling sewers, 
slippery banana-peels, mixed and disease-breeding gar 
bage-barrels, the child's own parents or even he himself 
may any moment be among the number. Then, that the 
idea may be kept constantly fresh in the mind, an organ- 



ization is formed which is modeled after the department 
in miniature. Every child is given a paper on which to 
record at the end of a week the number of persons or 
other children to whom he may have spoken about the 
matter of keeping the city tidy and neat; the number of 
bonfires which he has succeeded in stopping; the number 
of skins which he has kicked into the gutter from the 
sidewalk; the number of papers he has induced others to 
put in the barrel instead of on the pavement; and vari 
ous things of a similar nature. On the basis of such 
reports, badges are given out, ranking the children as 
"Helpers," "Foremen," or "Superintendents." Special 
work and interest is rewarded by advancement and the 
assignment of some particular department title, together 
with a certificate of authorization from the commissioner 
made out after this form: 

The rank of Foremen is recruited from that of Helpers as 
fast as the Foremen are promoted to other offices or dis- 


tinctions; and the Superintendents are elected every two 
months from the Foremen, who constitute an eligible 
class. To such arrangements the children lend them 
selves with great readiness, and a friendly rivalry stim 
ulates everything which can tend toward such a better 
ment of civic conditions as may lie within a child's power. 
From time to time, under the auspices of some particular 
miniature department, large mass-meetings of children 
are held in some hall, where an opportunity is given to 
hear talks from various officials of the large department 
and to enjoy such simple entertainment as the children 
and their friends can offer. 

The singing of " street-cleaning songs," of which these 
are among the number, adds zest to the enthusiasm of 
such meetings and has its share of influence: 


There 's a change within our city, great improvements in our 


The streets' untidy litter with the dirt has passed away. 
We children pick up papers, even while we are at play; 
And we will keep right on. 

No longer will you see a child fall helpless in the street 
Because some slippery peeling betrayed his trusting feet; 
We do what we are able to make our sidewalks neat; 
And we will keep right on. 

And all the people far and near, in sunshine or in rain, 
Rejoice to see our cleaner streets, and find the reason plain: 
We children take a hand to keep our thoroughfares so clean; 
Ancl we will keep right on. 



There are barrels in the hallways, 

Neighbor mine; 
Pray be mindful of them always, 

Neighbor mine. 

If you 're not devoid of feeling, 
Quickly to those barrels stealing, 
Throw in each banana-peeling, 

Neighbor mine! 

Do not drop the fruit you 're eating, 

Neighbor mine, 
On the sidewalks, sewer, or grating, 

Neighbor mine. 

But, lest you and I should quarrel, 
Listen to my little carol: 
Go and toss it in the barrel, 

Neighbor mine! 

Look! whene'er you drop a paper, 

Neighbor mine, 
In the wind it cuts a caper, 

Neighbor mine. 

Down the street it madly courses, 
And should fill you with remorses 
When you see it scare the horses, 

Neighbor mine! 

Paper-cans were made for papers, 

Neighbor mine; 
Let 's not have this fact escape us, 

Neighbor mine. 
And if you will lend a hand, 
Soon our city dear shall stand 
As the cleanest in the land, 

Neighbor mine! 


In this way large bodies of children are reached and 
interested, and the incentive is given to start new clubs 
and spread the work. 

The principle on which all this is based has often been 
criticized on the ground that in thus appealing to chil 
dren they are given an undue sense of their own impor 
tance in the school and city and that a tendency to spy 
upon and report the actions of other people is encouraged. 
This has not been the result, however, as everything 
looking toward such a condition is eliminated from the 
work. Emphasis is laid solely upon the child's individual 
responsibility to his own city and his own best self for 
the way in which he regards the streets and the example 
which he sets to others. The whole principle is embraced 
in the civic pledge which each club and department 
member learns and repeats. 


We who are soon to be citizens of New York, the largest 
city on the American continent, desire to have her possess a 
name which is above all reproach. And we therefore agree to 
keep from littering her streets and as far as possible to prevent 
others from doing the same, in order that our city may be as 
clean as she is great and as pure as she is free. 

The weekly reports, far from being complaints, are 
statistical statements of what any child may have ac 
complished. They form a basis for awarding badges, and 
lend formality to the movement, so that a child comes 
to feel that he is rendering to the city some recognized 
service. Many of the reports show a surprising amount 
of earnest work, and are themselves refutations of all 
criticism, as well as object-lessons in what can be done 


for children in the way of teaching them clean habits 
and stirring up in them a spirit of civic pride. 

The following specimens are culled from the weekly 


"DEAR SIR: While walking through Broome St., 
Monday, at 2:30 P.M., I saw a man throughing a mat 
tress on the street. I came over to him and asked him 
if he had no other place to put it but here. He told me 
that he does not no any other place. So I told him in a 
barrel, he then picked it up and thanked me for the in 
flammation I gave him. I also picked up 35 banana 
skins, 43 water mellion shells, 2 v bottles, 3 cans and a 
mattress from Norfolk St." METROPOLITAN LEAGUE. 

"To COL. WARING. Distinguished a bon-fire in 5th 
St., between Av. C. & D." INDUSTRIAL LEAGUE. 

"I saw a man eating a banana. He took the skin 
and threw it on the sidewalk. I said to him please sir 
will you be so kind & pick it up and he said all right." 

" There was a barrel full of paper on East B'way and 
when the cartman emptied the barrel a lot of small 
pieces of paper fell all over the side-walk. The house 
keeper took the barrel in and did not even try to pick 
them up. I went up & asked her to pick them up and 
she refused. Then I asked her to loan me a broom and 
I would sweep. She consented and I swept. She was 
baking in her stove so I put the paper in the fire. While 
doing this she asked me who I was, and I told her I be 
longed to a club which is interested in having clean 
Streets, She asked me if I had a badge and I told her 


we could try to keep the streets clean without a badge 
& she said we were right." INDUSTRIAL LEAGUE. 

"MR. E. WARING So I passed Grand St. so I saw 
paper at the side-walk so I told a Street Cleaner so he 
said I shall go to see Mr. E. Waring so I said I dont no 
where to find him, that was the second time that I saw 
that again. I passed Ludlow St. I saw a can dirt where 
it belongs garbage and it was nasty so I called a man. 
I passed Essex St. so I saw a lady throughing from the 
window apple skjns down stairs on a lady's head, so I 
called up and she said she won't do it no more." VACA 

In sections of the city where the English language is 
but infrequently heard the children are often the only 
means of communication which parents have with out 
siders. Thus the children's assistance in spreading a 
knowledge of the ordinances and the reasons for them 
is of no small value. This was keenly appreciated by the 
department at the time when the new law relative to the 
mixing of garbage went into effect. By the aid of the 
children we were able to translate this from its legal 
phrases into the vernacular and spread it by word of 
mouth from tenement to tenement, bringing about in a 
short time what would have taken regular inspectors 
some months to accomplish. As another instance of 
positive results attained by the children's aid, it is esti 
mated, on the basis of their reports, that over six hun 
dred bonfires have either been extinguished by them or 
called to the attention of the police within the last nine 
months. This makes a saving of several thousand dol 
lars to the Department of Public Works in their bill for 
the laying of new pavements, 


Still, if nothing is gained to the city except in a nega 
tive way, at least the neutrality of thousands of children 
has been purchased, and the streets are the cleaner from 
the fact that so many are kept from making them dirty. 
But for the child himself results are all on the positive 
side. The good it does him is not a matter of conjecture. 
He is cleaner in his person and in his habits, to which 
the report of many a school-teacher bears witness. And 
he cannot fail to grow up with an increased love for his 
city, the result of that knowledge which will make him 
the sturdy, upright citizen which the times demand in 
great measure. 



THE following was written in 1894 by Mr. J. S. Da 
Costa to a friend in Rio Janeiro: 
" New York seems to be the dirtiest wealthy 
city that I have seen. There are portions of the city 
that are so packed with empty vehicles of every size and 
shape that one is apt to think, from a view of the filthy 
state of all their surroundings, that after eight o'clock 
at night the commercial portion of the city is converted 
into a huge dirty public stable, unsightly and disgustingly 
hideous, viewed from whatever point it may be looked at." 

New York is now thoroughly clean in every part, the 
empty vehicles are gone, and no such criticism as that 
of our Brazilian writer will ever be made again. " Clean 
streets" means much more than the casual observer is 
apt to think. It has justly been said that " cleanliness 
is catching," and clean streets are leading to clean hall 
ways and staircases and cleaner living-rooms. A recent 
writer says: 

" It is not merely justification of a theory to say that 
the improvement noticed in the past two and a half years 
in the streets of New York has led to an improvement 
in the interior of its tenement-houses. A sense of per- 



sonal pride has been awakened in the women and chil 
dren, the results of which have long been noticeable to 
every one engaged in philanthropic work among the 
tenement dwellers. When, early in the present adminis 
tration, a woman in the Five Points district was heard to 
say to another, ' Well, I don't care ; my street is cleaner than 
yours is, anyhow,' it was felt that the battle was won." 

Few realize the many minor ways in which the work 
of the department has benefited the people at large. For 
example, there is far less injury from dust to clothing, 
to furniture, and to goods in shops; mud is not tracked 
from the streets on to the sidewalks, and thence into 
the houses; boots require far less cleaning; the wearing 
of overshoes has been largely abandoned; wet feet and 
bedraggled skirts are mainly things of the past; and 
children now make free use as a playground of streets 
which were formerly impossible to them. " Scratches," 
a skin disease of horses due to mud and slush, used to 
entail very serious cost on truckmen and liverymen. It 
is now almost unknown. Horses used to " pick up a nail " 
with alarming frequency, and this caused great loss of 
service, and, like scratches, made the bill of the veteri 
nary surgeon a serious matter. There are practically no 
nails now to be found in the streets. 

The great, the almost inestimable, beneficial effect of 
the work of the department is shown in the large reduc 
tion of the death-rate and in the less keenly realized but 
still more important reduction in the sick-rate. As com 
pared with the average death-rate of 26.78 of 1882-94, 
that of 1895 was 23.10, that of 1896 was 21.52, and that 
of the first half of 1897 was 19.63. If this latter figure 
is maintained throughout the year, there will have been 
fifteen thousand fewer deaths than there would have 


been had the average rate of the thirteen previous years 
prevailed. The report of the Board of Health for 1896, 
basing its calculations on diarrheal diseases in July, 
August, and September, in the filthiest wards, in the 
most crowded wards, and in the remainder of the city, 
shows a very marked reduction in all, and the largest re 
duction in the first two classes. 

It is not maintained, of course, that this great saving 
of life and health is due to street-cleaning work alone. 
Much is to be ascribed to improvements of the methods 
of the Board of Health, and not a little to the condem 
nation and destruction of rear tenements; but the Board 
of Health itself credits a great share of the gain to this 

An effort has been made to account for the better 
work done on the streets solely by the larger amount of 
money expended. But in the matter of cleaning there 
has been no such increase of cost. In studying this, it 
is proper to exclude the cost of " snow removal," and of 
the purchase of " new stock and plant," bought for per 
manent use and to repair waste due to the work of pre 
vious years. The expenditure for all other items, for all 
really " street-cleaning " accounts, was as follows for five 
years past: 

of increase 

1892 . ' . ,..;,. $1,890,376.46 

1893 .... 2,036,812.81 7.7 

1894 .... *2,366,419.49 16.2 

1895 .... 2,704,577.26 14.3 

1896 .... 2,776,749.31 2.7 
The increase in 1893-94 was 23.9. 

" 1895-96 " 17. 

* Includes $140,000 secured in judgments against the city for increase in 


Furthermore, during this administration the employ 
ment of private ash- carts and private sweepers has greatly 
decreased as people have found that the department ser 
vice could be relied on. 

However, suppose the work has cost more. It has been 
well and honestly done, and it has produced the results 
cited above. I accept cheerfully full responsibility for 
the outlay, and I should gladly spend still more if it were 
needed for the good of the people. And, after all, how 
much did it cost all the people of this city for all that 
was done in 1896, including the removal of snow and the 
renewal of " stock and plant " ? The total sum is $3,283,- 
853.90. And how much is that? 

It is almost exactly three cents per week for each one of us ! 

The progress thus far made is satisfactory. An ineffi 
cient and ill-equipped working-force, long held under the 
heel of the spoilsman, has been emancipated, organized, 
and brought to its best. It now constitutes a brigade 
three thousand strong, made up of well-trained and dis 
ciplined men, the representative soldiers of cleanliness 
and health, soldiers of the public, self-respecting and 
life-saving. These men are fighting daily battles with 
dirt, and are defending the health of the whole people. 
The trophies of their victories are all about us in clean 
pavements, clean feet, uncontaminated air, a look of 
health on the faces of the people, and streets full of 
healthy children at play. 

This is the outcome of two and a half years of stren 
uous effort at first against official opposition and much 
public criticism. Two and a half years more, with a con 
tinuance of the present official favor and universal pub 
lic approval, should bring our work to its perfection. It 
should make New York much the cleanest and should 


greatly help to make it the healthiest city in the world. 
By that time its death-rate should be reduced to 15 per 
thousand which would mean for our present population 
a saving of sixty lives per day out of the one hundred and 
forty daily lost under the average of 26.78 (1882-94). 

I venture to predict a recovery, from the sale of refuse 
material, of at least one half the cost of the whole work. 

These diagrams set forth the actual relation between 
the work of former years and that of Mayor Strong's 

Annual snow removal formerly, 

55,568 loads. 

Annual snow removal now, 
495,977 loads. 

Total daily sweeping in 1888, 
172 miles. 

Total daily sweeping in 1897, 
924 miles. 



THE Department of Street-Cleaning was created 
by an act of the Legislature, Chapter 367 of the 
Laws of 1881, passed May 26, 1881. It provided 
for the appointment of a commissioner of street-cleaning 
by the mayor, with the approval of the Board of Health, 
charged with the duty of causing the streets of New 
York to be thoroughly cleaned and kept clean at all 
times, and of removing or otherwise disposing of, as 
often as the public health and the use of the streets 
should require, all street-sweepings, ashes, and garbage, 
and of removing new-fallen snow from leading thorough 
fares and such other streets and avenues as may be found 
practicable. Under this act, the commissioner of street- 
cleaning was empowered to let out special contracts, for 
periods not exceeding three years, for the work of street- 
sweeping and cleaning, or for the collection of ashes and 
garbage, or some part thereof, in particular districts, to 
be designated, such contracts to be approved by the 
Board of Estimate and Apportionment. He was also 
authorized to make special contracts for the final dis 
position of the material for a term of five years, if simi 
larly approved. 

James S. Coleman, the first commissioner under the 
new law, was appointed June 4, 1881. He held office 
until January 17, 1890. Mr. Coleman says: 



" Early in 1882 it was decided, as a measure of econo 
my, and to lighten the immediate cumbersome control 
of the extensive working-force and apparatus required 
for the whole city, and to insure the more frequent clean 
ing of the streets, to try the contract system of work in 
the territory lying south of Fourteenth Street, reserving 
that portion of the city north of Fourteenth Street for 
the operations of the department. The territory to be 
embraced in the contract system was divided into two 
districts, denominated respectively the first and second 
street-cleaning districts, the former lying west of Broad 
way and containing fifty miles of paved streets, and the 
latter east of Broadway and containing seventy-five miles 
of paved streets. 

"In February, 1882, contracts were entered into for 
two years with C. F. Mairs to clean the first district at 
the rate of $132,000 per annum, and with F. Theodore 
Walton for the second district at $225,000 per annum. 
The streets were classified : those of the first class, being 
about five miles, were to be completely cleaned their en 
tire length and width respectively once every twenty-four 
hours; those of the second class, being about thirty-two 
miles, were to be cleaned on alternate days; and the re 
mainder, about seventy-eight miles, were to be cleaned 
twice a week. Besides, the contractors were obliged to 
remove all ashes and garbage from the streets of the 
districts every day; and when the streets could not be 
cleaned in the regular manner by reason of a heavy fall 
of snow, the contractors were obliged to employ their 
entire force of laborers and carts in removing snow and 
ice, cleaning cross-walks, clearing gutters, and generally 
preparing for a sudden thaw. . . . 

" The contracts in existence in 1888 were entered into 
on May 1, 1886, for three years, with Hayward & Duffy 
for the first district at the rate of $117,490 per annum, 
and with Michael J. O'Reilly for the second district at 
the rate of $204,900 per annum. . . . 

"In considering the contract system, it should be 
borne in mind that, notwithstanding the increase year by 
year in the amount of work to be done, comparing the 


terms of the first and the last contract, and in the 
amount of work that was accomplished, yet the cost to 
the city has been constantly reduced: 

Contracts for 1882 $357,000.00 

' 1886 322,390.00" 

Mr. Coleman in 1889 made an elaborate report of the 
work of the years 1887-88, with a review of the opera 
tions of the department from 1882. 

He speaks of the impediments of the work as being 
" very numerous and of the most aggravating character, 
. . . such as badly paved streets, the want of proper re 
ceptacles for ashes and garbage, and innumerable street 
incumbrances of all kinds, . . . the more serious ob 
structions arising from the operations of various private 
corporations in laying down pipes, conduits, and other 
appliances, and making repairs to the various under 
ground communications which they controlled. These 
corporations tore up the streets, dug trenches, threw the 
dirt carelessly on the carriageways, and piled paving- 
stones, lumber, and other constructional material on 
them, in defiance of the ordinances and against the pro 
testations of the public. . . . 

" The abuse of the streets was carried on to such in 
tolerable dimensions that the grand jury made the sup 
pression of it a matter of serious discussion, and even 
considered the advisability of indicting its promoters. 
The Academy of Medicine dissected the subject from a 
hygienic standpoint, and arrived at the conclusion that 
street excavations, to the extent that was then going o*n 
during the summer months, were liable to lead to severe 
outbreaks of malarial and intestinal diseases. The Board 
of Aldermen and the Chamber of Commerce also agitated 
the question of securing reform. The latter body held 
a conference in December with the mayor, when it was 
generally agreed that the first thing necessary was to 
give the commissioner of public works complete power 
to relay the pavements when opened by private compa 
nies. But the needful legislation for such a proceeding 


was, I regret to say, not enacted, and all the agitation 
on the subject resulted merely in vigorous protests and 
denunciations, and it was only with the actual arrival of 
winter that the destruction of the pavements ceased." 

After reciting the city ordinances and the laws of the 
Health Department concerning the disposal of refuse by 
householders, Mr. Coleman says: 

" The result of the non-observance and the non-enforce 
ment of these laws was that the condition of the road 
ways, gutters, and sidewalks in the crowded tenement 
districts on the east and west sides of the city, in many 
instances, was exceedingly offensive in appearance. 
Notwithstanding the regular and well-directed daily 
labors of the street-cleaners, refuse of almost every sort 
could be seen, within an hour after the street had been 
regularly cleaned, lying loose on the street, showing 
that the rules of the Board of Health were not observed. 
Tenements containing twenty or thirty families (repre 
senting more than one hundred individuals) were supplied 
with only one receptacle (barrel, can, or tub) for the 
ashes and garbage, and, as a consequence, the greater 
part of the refuse was thrown on the street. There 
were many instances where no receptacle of any kind 
was used, and the household refuse was deliberately flung 
into the street. . . . The presence of ash-barrels on the 
sidewalks never fails to attract the attention of the 
ubiquitous rag-picker, who, hook in hand, rakes up and 
overhauls their contents, to the great disgust and an 
noyance of residents and passers-by. Such proceedings 
are a violation of Section 96 of the Sanitary Code, which 
states that no person not for that purpose authorized 
shall interfere with such receptacles or the contents 
thereof. . . . 

" In previous years the experiment of collecting ashes 
and garbage at night was tried, so as, if possible, to 
abolish or abate the ash-barrel nuisance the unsightly 
appearance, the offensive odor, and the annoyance to 
pedestrians (unavoidable in windy weather), incidental 
to the collection of ashes and garbage during the day 
time. The trial failed because householders neglected 


to comply with the regulations requiring them to put out 
the receptacles at such hours and in such places as 
would render them accessible to the ashmen and facili 
tate the prosecution of their work." 

Concerning vehicles in the streets Commissioner Cole- 
man says, "It is safe to say that the number will reach 
close on fifty thousand, and for many of these obstruc 
tions there is no warrant of law whatever"; and as to 
the law regulating the deposit of building-material and 
rubbish in the streets: "It is notorious that this law is 
not complied with; and the material becomes spread over 
the street, and the neighborhood becomes an eyesore and 
an offense. High winds scatter the sand, and when rain 
falls, passing vehicles churn the earth into mud and 
distribute it along the street. Again, in numerous in 
stances the material is so placed that the free flowage 
of water along the gutter is obstructed, and pools of 
stagnant water form on the streets." 

The plant of the department consisted, in 1888, of 
" 380 horses, 359 carts, 40 sweeping-machines, 20 sprin 
kling-carts, 3 snow-plows, 4 tug-boats, 42 scows. 

" South of Fourteenth Street, in the territory under 
contract, the plant employed consisted of 18 sweeping- 
machines, 9 watering-carts, and from 135 to 190 horses 
and carts for the collection of street dirt and ashes and 

The whole working-force of the department in 1888 
numbered 896 men. The number employed by the con 
tractors south of Fourteenth Street was 425. In addition 
to these, there were about 200 laborers unloading and 
trimming scows, making the whole force, in round num 
bers, 1500. 

Horace Loomis held the office of commissioner from 
January 17, 1890, until April 4, 1890, when Hans S. 
Beattie was appointed. He was succeeded by Thomas 
S. Brennan, September 17, 1891. 

The department was entirely reorganized by Chapter 
269 of the Laws of 1892, approved April 9, 1892. The 
new organization was the outgrowth of an examination 
of the subject of street-cleaning made in 1891, at the 


request of Mayor Grant, by Messrs. Morris K. Jesup, 
Thatcher M. Adams, Charles F. Chandler, D. H. King, 
Jr., and Francis V. Greene. 

On May 9, 1892, Mr. Brennan was reappointed under 
the new law. He was succeeded by William S. Andrews, 
July 21, 1893, and he by George E. Waring, Jr., January 
15, 1895. 

In his letter to Messrs. Jesup, Adams et al., Mayor 
Grant asked the following questions: 

" 1. Is the Department of Street-Cleaning efficiently 
managed, and, if not, in what respect is it inefficient? 

" 2. Is the present law adequate, and, if not, what ad 
ditional legislation is required? 

"3. Is the amount of money now appropriated suffi 
cient to clean the streets properly, and, if not, what, in 
your judgment, is necessary?" 

In reply to the first question, the committee says: 

"We reply that, in our opinion, it is not efficiently 
managed, our standard of comparison being the manage 
ment of well-established private corporations engaged 
in large enterprises. We consider it inefficient in the 
following respects : 

"1. In the employment of labor. It does not appear 
to have any proper system of selecting laborers and cart- 
men, or of permanently retaining those who are capable 
and hard-working. An effort was made last year by 
Commissioner Beattie'to improve the method of select 
ing laborers; but after a short trial it was abandoned, 
for reasons stated by him in his letter to us of February 
7 and in his conversation of February 20, both of which 
are given in the Appendix. 

" It appears from the testimony of the same commis 
sioner that it has been the custom of the department ' to 
have men appointed and removed principally at the whim 
of the person who makes the request/ and that the men 
are often employed only two-thirds time, i.e., only four 
days in the week, or six hours in the day. In our judg 
ment, no public or private enterprise can be efficiently 
conducted with any such system, or lack of system, in 
selecting or keeping its employees. 


" 2. In the location of its plant. 

"The department has only one stable, situated at 
Seventeenth Street and the East River. Here are kept 
all its machines, carts, horses, and tools. This point is 
about five miles from the paved streets of Harlem and 
three miles from the center of the down-town district. 
The average distance from the stable to the point where 
each cart and laborer does his work is about two miles, 
and probably one fifth of the time of the employees and 
animals is consumed in traveling back and forward over 
this distance. We consider such an arrangement as un 
suitable as it would be to have all the apparatus of the 
Fire Department concentrated in one engine-house. . . . 

" 4. In the lack of proper organization and disposition 
of its force. . . . We have constantly observed, in one 
part of the city or another, where there were large piles 
of mud and dirt in the gutters heaped up but not re 
moved for several days, owing either to lack of carts, 
lack of scows, or lack of proper direction. During this 
time the piles are strewn on the streets by vehicles or 
by the wind, and the work of cleaning has largely to be 
done over again. We consider this a waste of money. . . . 

" There are minor points in which, in our judgment, 
the street-cleaning is inefficient, as will appear in the 
detailed memoranda in the Appendix; but the failure to 
obtain more satisfactory results with the $10,000,000 
expended for street-cleaning in the last nine years is, in 
our opinion, due chiefly to the five causes above named 
and in the order stated." 

The second question is practically answered as follows: 

"We reply that, in our opinion, the present law is 
entirely adequate to secure the cleaning of the streets 
and keeping them clean, provided it is efficiently admin 
istered and the commissioner of street-cleaning has the 
active and cordial cooperation of the mayor, the police 
force and police justices, the Department of Health, the 
commissioner of public works, and the Board of Estimate 
and Apportionment. Without such cooperation at all 
times, no legislation, in our judgment, will secure clean 
streets. With it, the present law is sufficient." 


Concerning the sufficiency of the appropriation the 
committee says: 

" We reply that, in our opinion, the amount of money 
now appropriated is not sufficient, and that the sum ne 
cessary is about $1,800,000, as will appear more in detail 
in the estimate contained in the Appendix; and this 
amount should be increased from year to year in propor 
tion to the increase in amount of material to be removed, 
which appears to be approximately five per cent, per 
year. In considering the question of necessary expense, 
we feel obliged to say that, in our opinion, the present 
system of employing laborers and cartmen is wasteful 
and extravagant. To keep the streets clean with such a 
system would require at least $2,500,000." 

The following relates to the employment of labor: 

"By the testimony of Commissioner Beattie before 
the Fassett Investigating Committee, and by his very 
frank conversation with this committee, abstracts of 
which are hereto annexed, a clear idea can be obtained 
of the system of employment of labor which he found in 
force in the Department of Street-Cleaning when he took 
office, and which to a large extent prevails there to-day. 

"Briefly stated, that system is this: The department 
has, measurably speaking, little or nothing to do with 
the selection of its own employees. 

" They are ' appointed and removed principally at the 
whim of persons' (unconnected with the department) 
' making requests to that effect.' 

" They are selected ' without reference to their ability 
to do the given work for which they are employed, and 
are liable to discharge without good business reasons 

"The employment of laborers by the department is in 
the hands of the deputy commissioner, and * men come 
to him personally, or through their friends, or with their 
friends, and their friends are men who take an active 
interest in these (public) matters, aldermen, assembly 
men, etc., and apply to the deputy.' 

" The pressure for employment is great, so great that 
' there arises a disposition, even on the part of the fore- 


men, to accommodate the requests that are made and 
the persons who make the requests; and no doubt it oc 
casionally happens that a man who might be made a very 
good public servant is dropped with a view of increasing 
the number of places to be filled.' 

" It appears also that the department is subjected to 
great pressure for employment of labor ' which is utterly 
worthless to it,' by persons identified with charitable work, 
whose motives are unselfish, but who argue that the per 
sons whose employment they advocate must be supported 
by the city as paupers if not as laborers. 

" No examination as to fitness is made by the depart 
ment ' beyond a casual examination of the man by the 
eye of the deputy or superintendent,' and no record is 
made of this casual examination. 

" Once appointed, the laborer, however well conducted, 
has no assurance of permanent employment. Should 
the appropriation prove insufficient, as is frequently 
the case, or should it be injudiciously expended in the 
earlier part of the year and consequently become limited 
for the remainder, he is placed on short time, working 
six hours instead of eight, and four days instead of six. 

" He is employed by the hour, paid only for time he is 
actually employed, at the rate of twenty-five cents per 

" If he works ten hours he thus receives $2.50; if eight 
hours, $2. 

"In our judgment, such a system is at once ineffi 
cient, wasteful of the public money, and productive 
of bad results. No well-managed private corporation 
engaged in large industrial undertakings would employ 
a similar system. Other municipal departments employ 
ing large numbers of men do not use it. The members 
of the Police and Fire departments submit to examina 
tions which must reveal certain fixed standards as con 
ditions of employment. Once enrolled, they are certain, 
during good behavior, of permanent employment at a 
fixed wage. 

" From both of these departments, especially from the 
latter, the city receives excellent service. 


" It cannot expect an equal degree of excellence from 
any department whose system of employment is in such 
glaring contrast. 

" When Commissioner Beattie was asked by us, 'Is the 
force of laborers obtained under the present system 
satisfactory to you?' he replied emphatically and decid 
edly, ' It is not/ 

" That he is not alone in his judgment appears from 
the following extract from one of the many letters of 
the same tenor received by this committee. It is from 
a banker residing in Fifty-eighth Street between Madi 
son and Park avenues. 

" ' For the past seven years I have daily crossed Fifth 
Avenue twice on my way to the elevated station. Scores 
of times have I watched the men on our block and Fifth 
Avenue; and as far as I could judge, their object seemed 
to be to accomplish as little work as possible. I don't 
hesitate to say that, as a general rule, four able-bodied 
men could in the same time, without extra exertion, ac 
complish the work of any ten men that I watched, and 
thus it is that hundreds of thousands of dollars are 
thrown away lazy, aged, worn-out men employed, who 
do not through the day perform half a day's work. . . .' 

" The reasons for discontinuing this system he [Com 
missioner Beattie] gives in his answer to our letter of in 
quiry (p. 119), and further in his conversation with us 
(pp. 34 and 35 of Appendix). 

" Briefly summarized, they are: want of cooperation by 
the executive and finance departments; and vigorous op 
position, open and secret, on the part of men interested 
in public life and desirous of holding public office." (He 
means the political power which held him and his men 
under close subjection.) 

"The plain truth is that the system is of so long 
standing and of such sturdy growth that the right of 
appointment on the labor-roll of the department has 
come to be considered in some quarters a vested right; 
and no one who has not practical experience in such 
matters can conceive the tremendous resistance brought 
to bear against any effort to abolish or even to modify it. 


" In our judgment, a radical change in the system of 
the employment of labor is imperatively demanded as the 
first condition of successful management of the depart 

The question " What is the proper amount to be paid 
per month for labor?" was very carefully considered. 

" On this point the committee has made somewhat ex 
tended investigations, inquiring as to rates paid by 
almost all the large corporations and private firms and 
individuals engaged in industrial enterprises in this city 
and employing a large force. 

" Averaging the results obtained from answers to these 
inquiries, we find that the driver of a single truck or 
vehicle commands $10 per week wages, of a double 
vehicle $12 per week. 

"This includes care of his horse or horses, and in 
volves continuous duty from 6 : 30 A. M. in summer, and 7 
A. M. in winter, until very frequently so late an hour as 
9 P.M. 

"Stablemen receive $40 a month. Car-drivers on 
surface roads, $2 a day for twelve hours' duty, of which 
ten hours is actual work on their platforms. 

"Porters in employ of the large express companies, 
$50 per month. But these are exceptionally intelligent 
men, must possess special geographical knowledge of the 
continent, and work very long hours, frequently from 6 
A. M. till 10 P. M. 

" Porters on ordinary employment, $1.50 per day. 

"Employees of railroad companies: 

Track-laborers . 

Ashmen . . . 


Engine-wipers . 

Sand-tenders . 


Deck-hands on steamboats 

Yardmen . . 

Flagmen . . . 

Watchmen , 

$1.60 per day 

1 50 " " 

L60 to $1.90 per day 

1.50 " 1.75 " " 

1.50 per day 

1.50 to $1.90 per day 
30.00 to 35.00 per month 
and board 

1.25 per day 

1.50 " " 

1.50 to $1.75 per day 


" The day, "as here quoted, comprises from ten to twelve 
hours' work. 

" On the 'L' roads: 

Guards . . . VY - ^ . $1.50 to $1.85 per day 
Gatemen . .. . - -' . 1.25 to 1.75 " " 

" It will be seen, from the instances above cited, that 
no class of unskilled labor commands the same rate of 
wages which is paid to the laborer working eight or ten 
hours per day by the Street-Cleaning Department. Tak 
ing twenty-six days' labor to the month, the city pays 
$52 per month for eight hours' work per day, and $65 
per month for ten hours'. 

" The current market rate for unskilled labor per hour 
in private business is at the rate of 12j to 18 cents per 
hour. In comparison with these rates, the rates paid 
by the department are on an extravagant and wasteful 

As a conclusion from its investigations, the committee 
recommends a uniform rate of $40 per month for the 
laboring-force, which, in its judgment, would command 
workmen of the best class. 

Its general conclusion is this: 

"With good labor, skilfully organized and properly 
superintended, the streets can unquestionably be kept 
clean. With labor employed on the present methods, no 
organization, however skilful, and no superintendence, 
however faithful, can produce entirely satisfactory re 

As to the violation of the laws and ordinances relating 
to public cleanliness, the committee says: 

" If the existing laws and ordinances regulating the 
conduct of householders and citizens with respect to 
cleanliness were faithfully observed and duly enforced, 
the task of the Street-Cleaning Department would be 
greatly lightened. The provisions of these statutes are 
full and ample, and seek the accomplishment of the fol 
lowing objects: 

"1. Provision of suitable receptacles for ashes and 


garbage, strong enough to contain the material without 
leakage or permitting the escape of any of it. 

" 2. Restriction of the amount of material to be placed 
in each receptacle, the limit of filling allowed being a 
line four inches below the top of the vessel. 

" 3. Forbidding interference with such receptacle by 
any persons not for that purpose authorized. 

" 4. Keeping the entire area of the sidewalk between 
the curb and the stoop-line free from these receptacles 
by prescribing the space between the stoop-line and the 
house-line of the premises as their proper location. 

"5. Absolute prohibition to all persons to place any 
ashes, offal, vegetables, garbage, dross, cinders, shells, 
straw, shavings, filth, dirt, or rubbish of any kind what 
ever in any gutter, street, lane, alley, or any place in the 
city. Even shaking and beating of mats, carpets, and 
clothes in the streets is forbidden. 

" The laws and ordinances in question issue from three 
sources the Legislature, the Common Council, and the 
Board of Health; and for a wilful violation of any of 
them punishment by fine and arrest is prescribed, thus 
bringing the offenses within the class of misdemean 
ors. In addition to this, an offender against the Sani 
tary Code is liable to pay a penalty of $50 in a civil 
action to be recovered in the name of the Health De 

" Theoretically, under the operation of these laws, New 
York should be one of the cleanest cities in the world; 
practically, it is one of the dirtiest, because they are so 
habitually violated and so feebly enforced as to become 
dead letters. ... As a matter of fact, many of the 
gutters are choked with ashes and garbage, and piles of 
this offensive material can be seen in the streets them 
selves, which, if left uncollected for a few days, become 
in the winter season solidified masses resisting the action 
of any instrument less effective than a pickax, and fre 
quently remaining undisturbed for a period of months. 
In our observation of the streets during the last eight 
weeks we have rarely found in the tenement districts 
any proper provision of suitable receptacles for ashes 


and garbage. We have seen the curbs of the sidewalks 
lined with boxes, both of wood and paper, broken barrels, 
small tin cans, and every conceivable unfit receptacle for 
ashes and garbage, all overflowing into the gutters. In 
addition to this, we have observed large piles of ashes 
and garbage thrown directly into the gutter, and upon 
the street itself, in default of any receptacle whatever. 
When we have seen a regular and proper receptacle for 
ashes, it has been in instances where it is evident that 
but one has been provided for a house containing many 
families, and consequently utterly incapable of holding 
the amount which must daily be gotten rid of. ... 

" But the violation of these ordinances is by no means 
confined to the tenement-house district. The law against 
throwing litter and rubbish of any kind into the gutters 
and streets is daily and hourly violated in the best sec 
tions of this city, and that by people who have not the 
excuse of ignorance of the law. We have seen promi 
nent business houses on Fifth Avenue engaged in un 
packing large cases upon the sidewalk, the operation 
involving the throwing into the street of paper, straw, 
and litter of all descriptions. We have seen well-dressed 
men on their way down-town deliberately toss into the 
public highway the eight-page newspaper which they had 
just finished reading. We have seen the same class of 
people disembarrass themselves of handf uls o'f paper and 
scraps by the same easy process. We have seen men 
engaged in repairing the sidewalks, where the material 
taken up was decayed wood, throw the debris into the 
public streets, and leave it there in piles. We have seen 
in front of a well-known and reputable establishment on 
Union Square the remains of a large awning, partially 
destroyed by fire, cast deliberately into the gutter. It 
is a matter of daily habit with many storekeepers upon 
the lines of the great lateral avenues to commence the 
day by sweeping out all the refuse litter of their stores 
into the streets. 

"It is useless to multiply these instances; every one 
will recognize the fact of their daily and hourly occur 
rence. It is a hopeless task to keep the streets of this 


city clean so long as the people themselves are deter 
mined to keep them dirty. . . . 

" We have in many instances seen offenses of the na 
ture above specified committed under the eyes and the 
placid inspection of members of the police force. We 
have called the attention of the patrolmen to these vio 
lations and requested them to enforce the law. We have 
been met with manifestations of genuine surprise and 
the remark that when the people got through making 
the dirt they would probably clean it up by and by. 

" The truth is that the authorities have so long ac 
quiesced in this state of things that a large majority of 
the residents of New York are unaware of the existence 
of these laws, and in committing the acts described are 
unconscious that they are infringing them. 

" More than this, we believe that many of the regular 
police force share this ignorance, and that an examina 
tion of the force, if fairly conducted, would show a large 
percentage of them unable to give an intelligent state 
ment of the laws in question. 

"The police magistrates of the city also fail to do 
their part in the enforcement of these ordinances. In 
many instances they have been known, instead of prais 
ing the efficiency of an officer who has brought offenders 
against the sanitary laws before them, to severely repri 
mand him for exceeding his province. When they impose 
a fine, it is apt to be the lightest allowed, and they are 
prone to treat cases of this kind with such levity that 
the offender is more apt to repeat the offense than to 
take warning." 


"The street-cleaning as conducted prior to the past 
year has been accomplished entirely by machines, a 
machine of the small pattern, drawn by either one or two 
horses, being used to brush the dirt into the gutters, 
where it is collected in piles by men with brooms and 
hoes, and these piles are shoveled into carts and removed 
to the dumping-boards. . . . The method of cleaning by 


machine has been extremely unsatisfactory, partly due 
to the bad condition of the pavements, partly to the 
difficulty of the machines getting through streets owing 
to the obstructions by trucks, and partly owing to a lack 
of proper supervision of their work." 


The committee made the following report on the final 
disposition of the matters collected : 

"The ashes and garbage and street-sweepings, col 
lected in carts in the manner heretofore described, are 
taken to the dumping-boards, of which there are ten on 
each river. These dumping-boards consist of a rude 
platform eight to ten feet higher than the street, along 
side of which lies a scow. The loaded carts are hauled 
up onto the dumping-board by the aid of a hill-horse, 
and the load is dumped in the open air onto the scow 
beneath. The material is then picked over by organized 
rag-pickers, who pay the city about $57,500 per year for 
the privilege, which is sold at auction. In this picking 
a small amount of material is dropped overboard, which 
in the aggregate soon becomes a large amount and re 
quires frequent dredging of the slips alongside the dump 
ing-boards. When a scow is loaded, it is taken away by 
a tug, and discharged either at sea or along the Harlem 
River, or other low grounds that require filling." 


" The annual appropriations for conducting the busi 
ness have varied from $1,010,000 in 1882 to $1,280,525 in 
1890, the total for nine years ending with 1890 being 
$10,244,725. For the current year the appropriation is 
$1,584,250, of which $73,000 is for special police and 
$200,000 for new plant, leaving $1,311,250 available for 
cleaning, or about two per cent, more than in 1890. The 
accounts of the department are kept under seven differ 
ent heads, and the expenditures for each in 1890 were as 


Administration . . . $118,986.82, or 9 per cent. 

Sweeping .... 321,559.36, " 25 

Carting .... 528,768.63, " 42 
Removing snow and ice . 42,460.85, " 3 

Final disposition of material 235,816.09, " 19 " 
New stock . . . 16,539.00, " 1 
Rentals and contingencies . 15,517.09, " 1 

Total . . . $1,279,647.84, or 100 per cent. 

" The expenditures varied per month from $83,776.66 
in August to $124,999.59 in January. 

"This sum of more than a million and a quarter of 
dollars, however, by no means represents the total amount 
expended for street-cleaning and removing refuse. . . . 
The total amount . . . expended from private funds 
to supplement the public service cannot be accurately 
stated, but we have the data to show that it is at least 
$100,000. Through the kindness of Mrs. Francis P. Kin- 
nicutt, Mrs. Richard Irvin, and other ladies, who have 
made a careful canvass of the district between Eighth 
and Eightieth streets in the center of the city, we learn 
that not less than 2852 families in that district employ 
private ashmen, at an average of $2 per month, or a 
total of $68,448 per year. How much is expended in 
fees to public ashmen we cannot state, and it is even 
possible that householders sometimes mistake the public 
ashman for one supposed to be exclusively in their em 
ploy. This is exclusive of the large hotels, apartment- 
houses, and clubs, as well as shops and manufacturing 
establishments, all of which haul their ashes to the 
dumping-boards at their own expense. In this same dis 
trict, not less than 63 blocks, with an aggregate length 
of about eight miles, are cleaned throughout the day on 
the patrol system at private expense, the price paid 
being about $500 per year for each block, or $31,500 in 
all. This is exclusive of Broadway, Fourteenth and 
Twenty-third streets, which are kept perfectly clean at 
the expense of the owners of large retail stores, at an 
estimated annual cost of $7000. These figures account 
for about $107,000 of private money expended for street- 


cleaning and removal of ashes and garbage, exclusive of 
what is spent by hotels and other large establishments 
above mentioned. What the total amount is we are un 
able to say, but there is reason to believe that it is be 
tween $150,000 and $175,000. 

" We think it unnecessary to comment on this state 
of affairs further than to say that a system which leads 
householders to expend so large a sum of their private 
money, in addition to the taxes on their houses, in order 
to secure the measure of cleanliness to which they think 
they are entitled, is a system which leaves much to be 
desired on the score of efficiency." 

The committee paid special attention to the standing 
of trucks in the street, condemning the practice, as 
have all who have had occasion to consider it, setting 
forth thus the practical difficulties which had been en 
countered in the experimental work they had done: 

" The practical difficulties in the way of cleaning the 
streets when they are incumbered by vehicles are many 
and serious. In the experimental work done by the 
committee they were conclusively demonstrated. In the 
case of machine-sweeping, the machine was compelled 
to make a detour around every vehicle, averaging six 
feet in width and sixteen feet in length, leaving thus 
a hundred square feet along the gutters untouched. 
Where there was a wagon in front of each lot, the 
space between the wagons was too small to admit of a 
sweeping-machine working in toward the curb, and so 
a strip at least six feet wide from the curb-line was left 
unswept by the machine, rendering it necessary to follow 
the sweeper by a gang of men who had to move the 
vehicles and sweep the space beneath them by hand. 
Where trucks lined the street on both sides, as was fre 
quently the case, over half the roadway, and that the 
more important part of it, had been left unswept. And 
since this was not an occasional occurrence merely, but 
a constant condition of the streets during the hours 
when the cleaners were at work, there had resulted an 
accumulation of street refuse under the trucks and carts 
of formidable proportions. Many of these vehicles, 


known as 'dead trucks/ have occupied the same space 
for a continuous number of years. The condition of the 
streets beneath them can readily be imagined. 

" Where the cleaning was done by hand the difficulties 
encountered in the presence of the vehicles in the street 
were quite as imposing. To get at the pavement and 
gutters under the vehicles, the sweepers were required 
to move them out from the gutters and back again; and 
to do this required, in many instances, the utmost exer 
tions of two or three men. Where the vehicles were few 
and far between, this was not a very serious matter; but 
instances of this description were so few that they do 
not materially affect the rule. The general rule is that 
there are so many vehicles, and that they take up so 
much of the street, that it would be impossible for the 
cleaners to regularly move them, and therefore the por 
tion of the street occupied by them remains unswept. 
In the sections of the city where this rule most largely 
obtained, the accumulations of decaying and fermenting 
vegetable and animal matter had been undisturbed for 
weeks and months at a time, except as an occasional 
shower of rain had served to wash some of them into the 
sewers, and except where a truck or cart on leaving its 
mooring distributed a portion of them out over the pave 

" The presence of these vehicles in the street, further 
more, renders exceedingly difficult the collection of ashes 
and garbage. Where the scavenger and ashman were 
required to move the ash- and garbage-barrels and other 
receptacles around long rows of wagons before they 
reached the cart into which they were to be dumped, it 
was inevitable that the sidewalks and streets should be 
littered with their contents, and that the work should 
reflect the carelessness of the men who were required to 
perform this unnecessary labor. From the sidewalks 
this refuse would be tracked into the houses and court 
yards, pervading everything, and making cleanliness and 
order in the home next to impossible. 

"The storage of these thousands of vehicles in the 
street is to be condemned not only because they make 


the regular cleaning of the street impossible, but because 
they are lurking- and hiding-places for the vicious and 
dissolute, the scenes of petty crimes and misdemeanors." 

The committee's experiment was conducted during 
four weeks. It is worthy of very careful consideration, 
because it resulted in the introduction of the patrol or 
block system now in vogue. 

" During the first two weeks, ending February 28, ice 
and snow prevented cleaning on three days, and the 
cleaning was in progress on nine days. On March 2 the 
sections were reversed, i. e., the machines were sent into 
the section which had previously been cleaned by hand, 
and vice versa; but a heavy snow-storm, followed by 
freezing weather, prevented making a fair test of clean 
ing on the third week. On the fourth week the weather 
was fairly good, and both systems were in full operation. 
In addition to almost daily observation of some portion 
of each district, we made a careful inspection of every 
street in both sections on February 23, and again on 
March 14. In the first inspection we found the hand 
work, with a few trifling exceptions, well done; the 
streets were remarkably clean. But in many places we 
found the push-carts filled and a number of piles of dirt 
in the gutters awaiting the arrival of carts, showing that 
the cart service was defective. The machine section was 
not clean. The dirt had only been partially removed by 
the machines. In many streets the windrows of dirt in 
the gutter had not been heaped up, and in other streets 
large and numerous heaps of black mud had been left in 
the gutters for at least forty-eight hours. In our second 
inspection (March 14) we found the streets in both sec 
tions thoroughly cleaned, except where storekeepers had 
thrown refuse after the sweepers had stopped work; 
there was not a heap of dirt to be seen in the gutters 
anywhere in the entire thirty-two miles. The hand sec 
tion was perfectly clean; the machine section was as 
clean as machines operating over rough pavements could 
possibly make it. There was a vast improvement over 
the work of two weeks before, and it was due to the fact 
that on March 12 Commissioner Beattie issued a positive 


order to his superintendent to employ enough carts to 
remove the sweepings every two hours in the hand sec 
tion, and within one hour from the time the machines 
passed in the machine section; and this order was fol 
lowed up by the commissioner, his deputy, and the su 
perintendent passing the greater part of the next two 
days on the streets, supervising the work. 

"This experiment clearly established certain facts, 
viz. : that with the patrol system, supplemented by a well- 
organized carting service, the streets can be kept per 
fectly clean at all times; that with machines the streets 
can be kept much cleaner than they have ever been kept 
before, provided the sweepings are promptly removed 
by an efficient carting service; that there are difficulties 
connected with the use of machines in this city, due to 
narrow, obstructed, and badly lighted streets (the work 
with machines must necessarily be done at night) and 
the uneven surface of the pavements, which make it im 
possible to clean the streets by this method as thoroughly 
as by hand; and finally, that in cleaning the streets by 
machine there is no provision for taking up the manure 
dropped during the day; the street may be perfectly 
cleaned at 7 A. M. and yet be very dirty at 9 A. M. and 
throughout the rest of the day from the accumulation 
of manure. 

" We are therefore convinced that the patrol or block 
system of cleaning by hand is the best, if not the only, 
method by which the streets can * be thoroughly cleaned 
and kept clean at all times/ as the statute requires." 



, '" 


THE subject of the final disposition of garbage is a 
municipal question; for with the single family or the 
small community all table and kitchen waste is valuable 
and eagerly sought as food for domestic animals. When 
fresh and wholesome, this is its proper and natural des 
tination. It is only when, in larger communities, public 
health requires the banishment of the omnivorous hog 
that the disposition of putrescible waste becomes a 

The early history of the subject, in all but seaport 
towns, is practically the same. The method of disposi 
tion adopted must be satisfactory at once to the com 
munity and to its neighbors. In seaport towns it has 
usually been cheapest and easiest to tow and dump the 
mixed wastes so far from shore as to be practically un 

Inland towns, however, have commonly endeavored to 
sell their edible waste, even if not very fresh, to persons 
who hauled it away for use as food in large piggeries. 
Many, too, even within recent years, have used it in a 
partially decomposed condition as food for milch cows. 
But the consumers of the milk and the consumers of the 
pork have gradually risen in protest, and the guardians 



of health have urged many reasons why the practice 
should be abolished. The revenue derived from it and 
the difficulty of finding a better method have been seri 
ous obstacles to change; but the practice has generally 
given way to the compost heap, which, in turn, has 
usually died an early death from the vigorous objections 
of its neighbors. 

A mechanical solution of the question then appeared 
the most promising. The first impulse naturally was to 
destroy an article which had given so much trouble; the 
second impulse was to save a substance which was known 
to be valuable. The development of these two ideas 
has led to the invention of crematories and utilization 

All new processes are liable to failure from inexperi 
ence and from the natural timidity of capital. Ear y 
attempts to destroy and to save this kind of city was e 
were defective in both cases, because no one quite knew 
what was needed, and every one hesitated to invest 
money which might be lost. The history of the past few 
years is therefore strewn with wrecks of laudable at 
tempts to solve the problem. 

The conditions of permanency and successful opera 
tion differ so much in different cities that an intimate 
and detailed knowledge of individual cases is necessary 
to an intelligent judgment of the inherent value of any 
particular process. In some places the relatively dry 
character of the waste and the mildness of the winter 
climate have permitted the easy and continued operation 
of crematories which, when called upon to burn wetter 
material, to maintain hotter fires, and to withstand the 
rigors of a Northern winter, have not sustained their rep 
utation. In other places the location of a crematory 
or of a reduction plant has been so unwisely chosen that 
slight odors, or even the daily sight of a line of garbage- 
carts, has been enough to cause great complaint. Among 
the early reduction plants a fruitful source of trouble 
and failure was the tendency of enthusiasts to overesti 
mate the amount and value of grease and tankage to be 
recovered, and thus to enter into unprofitable contracts, 


which both disheartened stockholders and prevented im 
provements suggested by experience. In many places, 
too, the municipal authorities have been so divided in 
opinion that the small majority by which a system has 
been introduced has not been able to withstand the trifling 
criticisms which would have passed unnoticed had the 
company been longer in operation or backed by a stronger 
popular desire for its success. 

Only careful examination by experienced judges, and 
extended over a reasonable time, can give any accurate 
idea of the accomplishment or possibilities of such a 
process. Many of the difficulties to be overcome have 
now been learned by experience, and have been briefly 
discussed above. They are primarily hygienic, secon 
darily economic, and all are nearing solution. 

In the case of the smaller cities whose outskirts are 
easily reached, and in many of which combustible waste 
is mixed with kitchen refuse, crematories have been es 
tablished and are in use, with results more or less accep 
table. The later installations, with their improved 
methods, are, of course, better than earlier ones. 

In Wilmington, Delaware, the Brown crematory has 
been used; in New Brighton, Staten Island, Terre Haute, 
Indiana, and Gainesville, Texas, the Brownlee furnace; 
in Allegheny, Pennsylvania, the Rider; in Camden, New 
Jersey, McKeesport, Pennsylvania, Atlanta, Georgia, Fort 
Wayne, Indiana, and Salt Lake City, the Dixon; in 
Lowell, Massachusetts, Coney Island, New York, Rich 
mond, Virginia, Savannah, Georgia, and in numerous 
places, principally in the South and West, the Engle; in 
Atlantic City, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Muncie, Indiana, 
etc., the Smith-Siemens; in Scranton, Pennsylvania, the 
Vivarttas. Many other towns have purchased and oper 
ated other crematories, with varying success. 

Among the larger cities, Buffalo, New York, with a 
population of about 300,000, pays $35,000 per year to the 
Merz Company to receive and dispose of its garbage by 
a reduction system; Detroit, Michigan, with 250,000 
population, pays annually $63,000 for collection and dis- 


posal by the same process; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, with 
250,000 people, pays $24,000 for disposal by the Merz 
Company; and in St. Louis the Merz Company receives 
and reduces all garbage and offal at $1.80 per ton. 

Cincinnati, with 350,000 population, and payment on a 
sliding scale averaging about $22,000 per year, and New 
Orleans, 250,000 population, send their garbage to plants 
of the Simonin utilization system. In this process gar 
bage is spread upon crates and, within closed iron cylin 
ders, subjected to the action of naphtha and steam heat 
until the grease and water are extracted, after which the 
dry matter may be culled and ground. 

In Philadelphia, where " slop " is collected and disposed 
of by contract, many methods have been in successive or 
contemporaneous use. At present all the " slop " which 
is treated within the city limits goes either to one of the 
two Smith crematories or to the large reduction plant of 
the Arnold system. 

Chicago, too, has tried nearly every known method, and 
is still experimenting just now with crematories. 

Boston, which has always derived a revenue from the 
sale of "swill" to neighboring feeders and towed the 
balance of its waste to sea, made a contract some two 
years ago with a local company operating the Arnold 
process; but the plant was closed after a few months' 
operation, and now the city has temporarily returned to 
its ancient method. 

Washington, D. C., has had a somewhat similar expe 
rience, except that the Arnold plant was destroyed by fire, 
and, owing to the uncertain condition of the contract 
then in force, it was not rebuilt. The health officer of 
the city has lately made an extended visit to plants in 
operation in other cities. This is one of the places where 
something must be done, and it is said that recent con 
tracts have been made for the erection of two crema 
tories, one of which is already completed. 

Pittsburg operated for years an overworked and un 
satisfactory crematory, and the present contractor has 
lately built a reduction plant in which it is proposed to 


manufacture the garbage dry matter into a complete 
fertilizer. The method in use is that of the Consolidated 
American Reduction Company. 

Cleveland, hampered by poverty, has done little yet, 
but hopes to put a reduction plant into operation in the 
near future. 

New York and Brooklyn are pressed by necessity to 
an early decision. 

C. H. K. 



THE following extracts from a paper giving a short 
history of the bids, etc., in relation to the final disposi 
tion of the city's wastes, can best be introduced by the 
letter of April 9, 1896, which was supplied to the leading 
daily newspapers: 

April 9, 1896. 


After the contract for the disposal of garbage goes 
into eifect, new methods will be adopted for the treat 
ment of all our wastes. Some of them are already inau 
gurated, and all should be in full use before the end of 
the year. 

1. Garbage will be kept separate, in such vessels as 
the Board of Health may prescribe, and will be collected 
by special carts. 

2. Ashes and dust (free from paper and other rubbish) 
will be kept within the house, or in the back yard, in 
special cans. From these they will be removed in tied 
bags by department men, who will stand them on the 
edge of the sidewalk. 

3. Street dirt will be placed in a bag (carried on a 
light truck) as fast as it is swept up. When the bag is 



filled it will be tied and stood on the sidewalk. This 
system has been in use in Madison Avenue since last 
summer, and is now being extended. 

The ash-carts will move slowly along the streets, with 
enough men attending to throw the bags into them as 
they pass. Thus the shoveling of sweepings and the 
emptying of receptacles, as well as the standing of re 
ceptacles on the streets and the collecting of sweepings 
into piles, with their attendant dust, litter, and nuisance, 
will be forever done away with. 

4. All refuse other than garbage, ashes, and dust will 
be kept within the house until called for by the depart 
ment "paper-carts," which will remove everything the 
householder wants to get rid of, from an envelop to a 
mattress or a cooking-stove. These things will be taken 
to central depots, where everything of salable value will 
be separated, and all else will be cremated. 

When this system is in complete operation, not only 
will the streets be clean, but they will also be tidy. 
Blowing papers and the dust nuisance will have disap 
peared. Furthermore, the $80,000 hitherto received by 
the city for the privilege of picking bones, bottles, rags, 
etc., during the trimming of the scows, will be replaced 
by many times that amount received for the much larger 
quantity of material collected, and collected in much 
better condition. There are further possibilities as to 
the use of unsalable paper for pasteboard, the develop 
ment of steam for power by the burning of refuse, the 
use of ashes for making brick- and concrete-work; but 
concerning these we are not yefr-in a position to make any 
public statement. 

The obtaining of information as to articles of possible 
value which are now practically thrown away, and which 
might be recovered and sold, has involved an expenditure 
on the part of the city, in the form of scow-trimming 
money received by Herbert Tate since June 17, 1895, of 
$57,225. Of this, $6150 has been paid as compensation 
to Herbert Tate and his assistants for the installation 
and management of the investigation; $480 for rent of 
the lot where the crematory stands, at the corner of 


Fifty-third Street and Twelfth Avenue; $5800 for the 
construction of the crematory and appurtenances; $1339 
for the operation of the crematory. There stands to the 
credit of the crematory account about $1350 received for 
paper, bottles, shoes, etc., sold. 

The remainder of the sum received has been used for 
the employment of carts and trucks, varying in number 
from 41 to 79, and averaging 54 per day. Believing 
always that the experiment was to last but a few months, 
collection was made from all parts of the city below 
Fifty-ninth Street, and irregularly above Fifty-ninth 
Street, with a view to preventing the people from putting 
their paper and rubbish into the streets. This has had 
a good effect by no means a complete effect. The 
material collected in the fifth district, being between 
Twenty-second Street and Fifty-eighth Street and from 
Sixth Avenue to the Hudson River, together with a por 
tion of what was collected above Fifty-eighth Street was 
delivered at the crematory, foot of Fifty-third Street, and 
wasmade the subject of the experiment referred to above. 

There has been a doubt in the minds of some persons 
as to my authority for applying the scow-trimming money 
to this use. The case was presented in all its details to 
the counsel to the corporation, Mr. Scott; and he not 
only said that I had the right to use the money in this 
way, but that he thought it would be well worth while 
to find out whether or not there was a possibility of get 
ting a greater value out of the wastes of the city than it 
was then receiving. 

The experiment would have been concluded last autumn 
had the plan been carried out at that time of asking pro 
posals for the treatment of garbage. By request of the 
mayor, this plan was changed, and, on terms and condi 
tions approved by the Board of Estimate and Apportion 
ment, an advertisement was published asking for proposals 
for .the disposition of all of the wastes of the city. The 
bids under this proposal were opened December 10, 1895, 
without result. 

The next advertisement asked for proposals for dispos 
ing of garbage alone, at a fixed price per ton. This was 


dated January 22, 1896; the bids were to be opened Feb 
ruary 4, but the time was extended to February 17 for 
readvertising. This also was without result. 

Again, on March 12, 1896, we advertised for proposals 
for the removal of garbage alone, at a per annum price, 
the bids to be received up to March 26. 

March 17, proposals were asked for the disposition of 
ashes, sweepings, garbage, etc. ; these were to be received 
March 30. Both sets of bids were opened on March 30, 
1896. These proposals are now under consideration. 

As soon as the decision of this question allows us to 
resume the even tenor of our way, we shall make ready 
to close up our experimental work, and go forward with 
our plans for handling all of our output in the manner 
set forth. 

A false start was made in April, 1895, with Walton & 
Co., but, after they had used $1667.90 of the scow-trim 
ming money, the arrangement was found not to be satis 
factory and it was canceled. 

GEORGE E. WARING, JR., Commissioner. 

The long and difficult proceedings through which the 
final result was reached are fully set forth in a paper 
published by the department. This will be sent to those 
who apply for it. It is not without interest, but there 
is no room for its details in these pages. 

At the last meeting of the Board of Estimate and Ap 
portionment at which the matter was discussed, the 
mayor offered the following: 

" Resolved, That the Board of Estimate and Apportion 
ment hereby approves the report of the commissioner of 
street-cleaning, dated May 1, 1896, stating that he has 
rejected all bids for final disposition, except that of the 
New York Sanitary Utilization Company, and the said 
board hereby approves of the contract with the said New 
York Sanitary Utilization Company, recommended for ac 
ceptance by said commissioner of street-cleaning, as to 
its terms and conditions, including the price or compen 
sation therein provided for." 

The president of the Board of Aldermen moved as a 


substitute that "this board declines to approve of the 
bid of the New York Sanitary Utilization Company as 
recommended by the commissioner of street-cleaning." 

The chairman put the question whether the board 
would agree to said substitute, and it was decided in the 
negative by the following vote: Affirmative: the presi 
dent of the Board of Aldermen 1 . Negative : the mayor, 
controller, president of the Department of Taxes and 
Assessments, and counsel to the corporation 4. 

The question recurring on the original resolution as 
offered by the mayor, it was adopted by the following 
vote: Affirmative: the mayor, controller, president of 
the Department of Taxes and Assessments, and counsel 
to the corporation 4. Negative: the president of the 
Board of Aldermen 1. 

On June 6, 1896, the contract was entered into with 
the New York Sanitary Utilization Company, and prepa 
rations were immediately made for beginning the work. 

M. C. 

NOTE. This contract was for five years. The city pays an 
annual compensation of $89,990. It delivers the garbage on 
the contractors' vessels, which take it to Barren Island, at the 
mouth of Jamaica Bay, where it is cooked for ten hours by steam 
(under a pressure of seventy pounds). It is then pressed, the 
grease is taken from the liquid and made ready for market, and 
the solid matters are dried and prepared for use as manure. 

The arrangement is advantageous to the city and profitable 
to the company. 


Affidavits concerning conditions 

in 1893, 7. 

Andrews, William S., 4, 6, 9, 17. 
Annual death-rate, 14. 
Appointments made for political 

reasons, 6. 
Arbitration of differences between 

officials and employees, 25. 
Area cleaned in Birmingham, 159. 
in Brussels, 165. 
in Budapest, 125. 
in New York, 42. 
in Paris, 137. 
in Turin, 173. 
in Vienna, 121. 

Ashes, formerly allowed to accu 
mulate, 8, 13. 
cans and bags for, 45, 90. 
collection of, 44, 161. 
final disposition of, 68, 153, 162. 
used for filling, 68, 162. 
Assessment of employees, 15. 
Assistant superintendent, duties 
of, 83, 86. 

Bag-carriers, 40, 90. 
method of use, 41. 
Barney dumping-boats, 68, 73, 90. 
Beattie, Hans S., 4, 6. 
Benefit funds for street-cleaners, 
133, 134, 138, 171. 

Berlin, care of disabled men, 133. 

hours of labor, 132. 

household wastes, 135. 

machine-sweeping in, 130. 

pavements of, 131. 

sanding of streets, 131. 

size of force and rate of wages, 
130, 131. 

street-cleaners uniformed, 129. 
Birmingham, an example of muni 
cipal economy, 158. 

cremation of garbage, 162. 

force employed and wages, 159. 

manufacture of fertilizers, 161, 

removal of night-soil, 160. 

removal of other refuse, 161. 
Block system, 5. 

Board of Conference, cases con 
sidered by, 32. 

operations of, 25. 
Board of Health, 1, 13. 
Brennan, Thomas S., 4, 6. 
Brussels, benefit fund of the 
Street-Cleaning Department, 

collection of house wastes, 168. 

cost of street-cleaning, 165. 

cremation of refuse, 170. 

force employed and wages, 165. 

plant, 167 




population and area, 164. 
sale of sweepings, 169. 
snow removal, 168. 
street-sprinkling, 168. 
work of the department, 165. 
Budapest, cab-stands in, 124. 
cost of cleaning and snow re 
moval, 125. 

final disposition of refuse, 125. 
the city and its streets, 124. 

Cab-stands in Budapest, 124. 
Carting of refuse in New York, 43. 
cost of and force engaged in, 43. 
Chief clerk, 25, 86, 87. 
Children organized as aids of the 

department, 177. 
Children's badges and certificates, 


influence over parents and neigh 
bors, 185. 
pledges, 183. 

street-cleaning songs, 181. 
weekly reports, 183. 
Cinderella, the, 71. 
City Club, 7. 
Clerical force in New York, 86, 


Coleman, James S., first commis 
sioner, 1, 5. 
Collection of ashes, 44. 
of garbage, 43. 
of mixed refuse, 122, 135, 141, 

152, 161. 

of paper and rubbish, 45. 
Cologne, a clean city, 172. 
Committee of Forty-one, all com 
plaints must be considered by, 

cases brought before it, 33. 
influence of delegates over con 
duct of foremen, 35. 
operations of, 25. 
Condition of streets from 1892 to 

1895, 6, 7, 13. 
Contract-work, 1, 83, 93, 94, 100, 

166, 171, 174. 

Cost of cleaning and removal of 
refuse in New York, 4, 16, 129. 

of delivering ashes and sweep 
ings at Riker's Island, 73. 

of disposition of refuse, 69, 73, 
129, 141. 

of garbage removal in Paris, 
141, 143. 

of salt for melting snow in Paris, 

of snow removal, 92, 95, 96, 
102, 108, 121, 173. 

of street-cleaning in Berlin, 129, 

of street-cleaning in Birming 
ham, 158. 

of street-cleaning in Brussels, 
165, 166. 

of street-cleaning in Budapest, 

of street-cleaning in New York, 

of street-cleaning in Paris, 137. 

of street-cleaning in Turin, 173. 

of street-cleaning in Vienna, 121. 

of street-sprinkling in Paris, 

Craven, Macdonough, report on 

garbage treatment, 48. 
Cremation of refuse, 78, 126, 135, 

144, 153, 155, 162, 170. 
Gushing, Major H. C., report on 
stock and plant, 81. 

Death-rate from 1882 to 1894, 14. 
Deck-scows, 69, 73. 
Delehanty boats, 71, 72, 90. 
Department of Street-Cleaning 

created, 1. 
Discipline, methods of, 21, 82, 84, 

Diseases due to dust and damp 
ness, 14. 

Distribution of sweepers, 38, 39. 

District superintendents, 84, 86. 

Districts, number of, 86. 

Division of area of New York, 

Drivers, duties of, 84, 88. 
regulars and extras, 85, 88. 

Dumps for refuse, 44, 72, 90. 



Early history of New York depart 
ment, 1. 

Final disposition in Berlin, 135. 

in Brussels, 169. 

in Budapest, 125, 175. 

in London, 153, 155. 

in Paris, 141. 

in Vienna, 122. 

of ashes and sweepings, 68. 

of garbage, 47. 

of paper and rubbish, 74. 

superintendent of, 86. 
Fines, system of, 22, 41. 
Force employed in Berlin, 130. 

in Birmingham, 159. 

in Brussels, 165. 

in Budapest, 124. 

in London, 151. 

in New York, January 15, 1895, 

in New York, July 1, 1897, 38, 

in Paris, 137. 

in Turin, 173. 

in Vienna, 120. 
Foremen and assistants, 39, 85, 

Garbage, bids for disposal of, 48. 

cans and carts, 60. 

collection in Paris, 141. 

constituents of, 50, 67. 

cremation in Birmingham, 162. 

disinfection of, 63. 

driers and digesters, 63. 

dumps, 44. 

final disposition of, 47. 

fouling of shores by, 47. 

gases and vapors from reduction- 
works, 61, 64. 

grease extraction, 54, 65. 

importance of prompt collec 
tion, 49, 58, 60, 63. 

importance of separate storage, 
52, 58. 

investigation of various pro 
cesses, 49. 

mills and screens, 65. 

reduction-works need not be of 
fensive, 55, 56. 
results of tests, 53, 56. 
thrown in the streets, 8, 9, 13. 
value of, 55, 67, 76. 
variations in quality and quan 
tity, 56, 67. 

General superintendent, 18, 86. 
Genoa, cleaned by contract, 174. 
police of, 174. 
wages of cleaners, 174. 
Grant, Mayor, report of committee 
appointed by, 4. 

Hand-sweeping better than ma 
chine-sweeping, 38. 

Horses of the New York depart 
ment, 81, 90. 
shod by contract, 83. 
under supervision of veterinary 
surgeons, 83. 

Hours of labor, 38, 43, 132, 137, 
151, 159, 167. 

Hydraulic carrier for ashes and 
sweepings, 70. 

Implements used by sweepers, 40, 
120, 139, 147, 149, 151, 173, 

Improvements in methods sug 
gested by employees, 31. 

Income from picking-yards, 79, 

122, 128, 155. 
from sale of fertilizers, 126, 136, 

163, 166, 169. 
from scow-trimming, 74. 

Incumbrance-yards, 86, 90. 

Inspectors, 86. 

Juvenile Street-Cleaning Leagues, 

badges and certificates of, 180. 

facilitate control of foreign pop 
ulation, 185. 

pledges of members, 183. 

songs of, 181. 

system introduced in schools, 

weekly reports of, 183. 



Kleinpest, 125, 128. 

Length of paved streets in New 
York, 38. 

of streets kept clean, 42. 
London, amount of refuse, 154. 

disposition of refuse, 153, 155. 

experience with destructors, 
153, 155. 

made up of independent com 
munities, 150. 

Paddington refuse-disposal 
works, 156. 

street-cleaning force, 151. 

the "City" proper, 150. 

washing of streets, 151, 152. 
Loomis, Horace, 2. 

Machine-sweeping, abandoned, 38. 

in Berlin, 130. 

in Brussels, 167. 

in London, 157. 

in Paris, 138, 139, 146. 

in Vienna, 119. 

its disadvantages, 37. 
Master mechanic, 86. 
Mechanics, 86. 

Methods of using sweepers' im 
plements, 41. 

Munich, cleaned mainly by con 
tract, 171. 

women sweepers in, 171. 

Paddington refuse-disposal works, 

Paper and rubbish service, 45, 


Parades, annual, 20, 83. 
Paris, area cleaned, 137. 
cleaning asphalt in, 139. 
cost of street-cleaning in, 137. 
final disposition of wastes, 143. 
machine-sweeping in, 138, 147, 


rag-pickers of, 143. 
size of street-cleaning force and 

rate of wages, 137. 
snow removal in, 144. 
street-cleaning in, 136. 

street-sprinkling in, 138. 
washing streets of, 139. 
Paved streets in New York, 38. 
Pavements in Berlin, 131. 
in Budapest, 124. 
in New York, 110. 
in Paris, 136. 
in Vienna, 117. 
Picking-yards, 46, 76, 77, 79, 122, 

125, 154, 156. 

Plant of the New York depart 
ment on January 15, 1895, 11, 

on July 1, 1897, 81, 89. 
Pocket-dumps, 72, 73. 
Politics as a factor in early work, 

6, 10, 12, 15. 
Public indifference, 2, 175. 

Refuse of Berlin, 135. 

of Birmingham, 161. 

of Brussels, 168. 

of Budapest, 125. 

of London, 152. 

of Paris, 142. 

of Vienna, 122. 
Reorganization of the New York 

department, 19. 
Repair-shops, 83, 86. 
Riker's Island, ashes and sweep 
ings used for filling, 69. 

cost of delivering ashes and 
sweepings at, 73. 

value of reclaimed land, 73. 
Robbins, William, 18. 
Rubbish, final disposition of, 74, 

removal of, 45, 75. 
Rules governing employees, 21. 

Salt in snow removal, 147, 149, 

Sanding of streets, 131, 139, 140, 

158, 159. 
Schools, teaching civic cleanliness, 


Scow-trimming, 74, 167. 
Section foremen, 39, 86. 
Section stations, 86, 90. 



Sections, number of, 38, 86. 

number of employees in, 39. 
Separation of refuse before collec 
tion, 45. 
Sidewalks in London, 152. 

in Vienna, 119. 

Snowfall, official records of, 94, 97. 
Snow-inspector, 87, 91. 
Snow-melting machines, 102, 108. 
Snow-plows and ice-scrapers, 106. 
Snow removal, agreements with 
street-railways, 100, 145, 148. 

collection and control of extra 
men, 104. 

contracts for, 93, 94, 100. 

cost of, 92, 95, 96, 102, 108. 

experiments in piling, 107. 

importance of, 91. 

in Brussels, 168. 

in Paris, 144. 

in Turin, 173. 

in Vienna, 121. 

laws regulating employment of 
extra men, 101, 103. 

method of keeping tally, 105. 

mileage of streets cleared, 92, 
93, 98, 102, 106. 

record of loads, 95, 96, 98, 102. 

under former administrations, 

14, 92, 96. 
Stable force, 84, 86. 
Stable management, 81. 
Stables, number of, 83, 90. 
Steam-pit for snow-melting, 102. 
Stidham, H. L., report on snow 

removal, 91. 

Stock of the New York depart 
ment, 81. 

Street-cleaning, children's clubs, 

songs of Juvenile Leagues, 181. 

in Berlin, 128. 

in Birmingham, 158. 

in Brussels, 164. 

in Budapest, 124. 

in Cologne, 172. 

in Genoa, 174. 

in London, 150. 

in Munich, 171. 

in Paris, 136. 
in Turin, 172. 
in Vienna, 117. 
Street-railways, 110. 
condition of tracks, 110. 
obligations of, 1, 145, 148. 
various forms of rails, 111, 118. 
Street-sprinkling, properly a muni 
cipal function, 176. 
in Brussels, 168. 
in Paris, 138. 
in Vienna, 123, 175. 
New York method unique, 175. 
required in dry weather, 41. 
Streets, cleaned daily or of tener,42. 
length of, in New York, 38. 
used for storing trucks, 2, 8, 9, 

Superintendent of final disposition, 


Superintendent of stables, 83. 
Superintendents, general and as 
sistant, 18, 26, 83. 
Sweepers, in gangs, 40, 130, 137, 


number of, 88. 
regulars and extras, 88. 
Sweepers' tools, 40, 120, 139, 147, 

149, 151, 173, 175. 
uniforms, 15, 16, 20, 39, 129, 

134, 172. 
Sweeping by machine abandoned, 

Sweeping in New York, cost of, 

and force engaged in, 37. 
frequency of, 42. 
made difficult by street-railroad 

tracks, 113, 116. 

Sweepings of New York, final dis 
position of, 68. 

Tammany officials and employees, 


Trucks stored on streets, 2, 8, 9, 13. 
Turin, cost of cleaning, 173. 
enforcement of laws against 

littering streets, 174. 
force employed and wages, 173. 
street-cleaners uniformed, 172. 



Uniforms, cost of, 39. 
in Berlin, 129, 135. 
in Munich, 172. 
in Turin, 172. 
of drivers, 85. 

of employees of the New York 
department, 15, 16, 20, 39, 85. 
of foremen and assistant fore 
men, 39. 
of sweepers, 39. 
Vehicles stored in streets, 2, 8, 9, 

Veterinary surgeons, 83. 

Vienna, cost of sweeping in, 121. 
hand-sweeping in, 120. 
machine-sweeping in, 119, 123. 
street-sprinkling in, 123. 
streets and sidewalks of, 118, 
119, 121. 

Wages, rates of, 101, 131, 159, 

165, 173, 174. 
Washing of streets, 125, 139, 151, 

Women sweepers, 137, 172.