From the collection of the
San Francisco, California
AND THE DISPOSAL OF A CITY'S
WASTES: METHODS AND RESULTS
AND THE EFFECT UPON PUB
LIC HEALTH, PUBLIC MORALS,
AND MUNICIPAL PROSPERITY
AND THE DISPOSAL OF A CITY'S
WASTES: METHODS AND RESULTS
AND THE EFFECT UPON PUBLIC
HEALTH, PUBLIC MORALS, AND
MUNICIPAL PROSPERITY j* <*
GEORGE E. WARING, JR
COMMISSIONER OF STREET-CLEANING IN THE
CITY OF NEW YORK
DOUBLEDAY & McCLURE CO.
Copyright, 1897, by
DOUBLEDAY &. McCLURE Co.
THIS BOOK IS DEDICATED
WILLIAM L. STRONG
MAYOR OF NEW YORK
TO WHOSE EARNEST SUPPORT SUCCESS IN MY DEPARTMENT
HAS BEEN SO LARGELY DUE
I. HISTORY . . . .\ , . . . . . 1
II. CONDITIONS UNDER RECENT ADMINISTRATIONS . . 6
III. THE EFFECT OF POLITICAL CONTROL AS SHOWN BY THE
CONDITION OF THE DEPARTMENT AT THE BEGINNING
OF THE PRESENT ADMINISTRATION . . . . 12
IV. THE REORGANIZATION OF THE FORCE .... 19
V. STREET-SWEEPING . . . . . . . 37
VI. CARTING . . ....... . . 43
VII. FINAL DISPOSITION OF GARBAGE . . . ^ . . . 47
VIII. FINAL DISPOSITION OF STREET-SWEEPINGS AND ASHES . 68
IX. FINAL DISPOSITION OF PAPER AND RUBBISH . . 74
X. STOCK AND PLANT 81
By Major H. C. Gushing, Assistant Superintendent.
XI. THE REMOVAL OF SNOW . .... . 91
By H. L. Stidham, Snow-inspector.
XII. STREET-RAILROADS AND PAVEMENTS IN NEW YORK . 110
XIII. STREET-CLEANING IN EUROPE: A REPORT OF OBSERVA
TIONS MADE IN THE SUMMER OF 1896 . . . 117
XIV. THE JUVENILE STREET-CLEANING LEAGUES . . . - . 177
By David Willard, D. S. C., Supervisor.
XV. CONCLUSION -. . . . . . .187
APPENDIX . ... . . ~; ... . 193
INDEX. ....... . . * . 225
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
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
MORTON STREET, CORNER OF BEDFORD, LOOKING TOWARD
BLEECKER STREET, MARCH 17, 1893 . . . between pp. 8, 9
THE SAME STREET, MAY 29, 1895 . ; . > between pp. 8, 9
A SECTION FOREMAN . . ... . . . 39
A SWEEPER WITH HIS BAG-CARRIER AND TOOLS f ... 40
SWEEPERS' TOOLS . .... . . . . . 41
NEAR THE LIGHT-SHIP, SANDY HOOK. UNLOADING DECK-SCOWS
WITH FORKS . . . . . .. . . . 69
A BARNEY DUMPER AT SEA, WITH ITS TUG . .; . . 70
THE DELEHANTY SELF-PROPELLING AUTOMATIC DUMPING-BOAT
"CINDERELLA" ..... ~ .. . . . 71
LOADING A Scow WITH REFUSE . . .... 75
SORTING THE RAGS AND OTHER ARTICLES OF VALUE UNDER THE
OLD-FASHIONED DUMPING-BOARD . . . , " . 76
TRAVELING-BELT AND THE PICKING-GANG "-...'"... 77
THE BELT RISING TO THE FEED-DOOR OF THE FURNACE * _ .._ 78
STREETS CLEANED OF SNOW IN AVERAGE STORM, PRIOR TO 1895 98
STREETS CLEANED OF SNOW, FEBRUARY 12 TO FEBRUARY 16, 1897 99
FIGS. 1-9, DIAGRAMS OF PAVEMENT AND RAILROAD-TRACK 111-115
COMPARISON OF FORMER WITH PRESENT REMOVAL OF SNOW . 191
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
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.
CONDITIONS UNDER RECENT ADMINISTRATIONS
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
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
IN FRONT OF NO. 9 VARICK PLACE, MARCH 17, 1893.
THE SAME STREET, MAY 29, 1895.
FORMER CONDITIONS 7
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
MORTON STREET, CORNER OF BEDFORD, LOOKING TOWARD BLEECKER STREET,
MARCH 17, 1893.
THE SAME STREET, MAY 29, 1895.
FORMER CONDITIONS 9
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
FORMER CONDITIONS 11
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
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
THE EFFECT OF POLITICAL CONTROL AS SHOWN BY THE
CONDITION OF THE DEPARTMENT AT THE BEGINNING
OF THE PRESENT ADMINISTRATION
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
POLITICAL CONTROL 13
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
POLITICAL CONTROL 15
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-
POLITICAL CONTROL 17
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
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
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.
THE REORGANIZATION OF THE FORCE
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
THE REORGANIZATION OF THE FORCE 21
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
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
Explanation : " D " means dismissal. 1, 2, 3, 5, and 10 mean the forfeiture
of so many days' pay.
I CHARACTER OF OFFENSE Offense
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
THE REORGANIZATION OF THE FORCE 23
CHAEACTEE OF OFFENSE Offense
| 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
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
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
I CHARACTER OF OFFENSE Offense
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
THE REORGANIZATION OF THE FORCE 25
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
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
THE REORGANIZATION OF THE FORCE 27
"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.
" 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-
THE REORGANIZATION OF THE FORCE 29
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
THE REORGANIZATION OF THE FORCE 31
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
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
THE REORGANIZATION OF THE FORCE 33
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
THE REORGANIZATION OF THE FORCE 35
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
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-
throat, with a
a shield similar
form, with a
delta (A) hang-
in white duck.
buttoned to the
rolling collar; trou-
a white helmet; and
to the police badge,
wear the same uni-
ing below the shield,
are dressed entirely
The coat is a sort of
A SECTION FOREMAN.
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,
A SWEEPER WITH HIS BAG-CARRIER AND TOOLS.
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
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
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.
FINAL DISPOSITION OF GARBAGE
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:
REPORT OF MACDONOUGH CRAVEN ON THE PRELIMINARY
INVESTIGATIONS MADE FOR THE DEPARTMENT AS TO
GARBAGE AND ITS TREATMENT
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
FINAL DISPOSITION OF GARBAGE 49
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
FINAL DISPOSITION OF GARBAGE 51
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
FINAL DISPOSITION OF GARBAGE 53
working under difficulties and at an unnecessary expense. Not
withstanding this, however, every facility has been given to the
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
NAME OF COMPANY LOCATION DATE
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
NAME OF COMPANY LOCATION DATE
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.
NAME OF COMPANY LOCATION DATE
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.
NAME OF COMPANY LOCATION DATE
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
FINAL DISPOSITION OF GARBAGE 55
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
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
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
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
FINAL DISPOSITION OF GARBAGE 57
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
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
The collections made by private cartmen are not handled by
the city as a rule, and therefore all record of such collections
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
FINAL DISPOSITION OF GARBAGE 59
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
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
FINAL DISPOSITION OF GARBAGE 61
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
FINAL DISPOSITION OF GARBAGE 63
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,
FINAL DISPOSITION OF GARBAGE 65
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
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
FINAL DISPOSITION OF GARBAGE 67
free the mesh. These rags, by the by, are a difficult factor in
the working of garbage during nearly all stages of the process.
TABLE SHOWING QUANTITY OF GARBAGE PER CAPITA COLLECTED
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 "
TABLE SHOWING AVERAGE COMPOSITION OF GARBAGE AND ITS
Three thousand tons of summer garbage, from different cities,
treated by different methods, show a general average compo
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
FINAL DISPOSITION OF STREET-SWEEPINGS AND ASHES
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
DISPOSAL OF SWEEPINGS AND ASHES 69
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
NEAR THE LIGHT-SHIP, SANDY HOOK. UNLOADING DECK-SCOWS
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-
A BARNEY DUMPER AT SEA, WITH ITS TUG.
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-
DISPOSAL OF SWEEPINGS AND ASHES 71
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
THE DELEHANTY SELF-PROPELLING AUTOMATIC DUMPING-BOAT
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
DISPOSAL OF SWEEPINGS AND ASHES 73
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.
FINAL DISPOSITION OF PAPER AND RUBBISH
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
PAPER AND RUBBISH
dumped with the refuse of the streets and ashes became
so soiled and wet as to have but little value, and the
L'OADING A SCOW WITH REFUSE.
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
SORTING THE RAGS AND OTHER ARTICLES OF VALUE UNDER THE OLD-
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.
PAPER AND RUBBISH 77
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
TRAVELING BELT AND THE PICKING-GANG.
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
THE BELT RISING TO THE FEED-DOOR OF THE FURNACE.
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-
PAPER AND RUBBISH 79
turers, and others wish to get rid of. The average sales
per week during the months of July and August were as
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.
STOCK AND PLANT
BY MAJOR H. C. GUSHING, ASSISTANT SUPERINTENDENT
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
This result has been secured by the rigid application of
systematic rules and, furthermore, by the encouragement
STOCK AND PLANT 83
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.
STOCK AND PLANT 85
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
STOCK AND PLANT
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
TABULATED STATEMENT OF THE CONDITION OP THE DEPARTMENT
OF STREET-CLEANING, CITY OF NEW YORK, JUNE 13, 1897
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 .
< Assists commissioner ; makes
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
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
. 1000 Y. 1
Property clerk .
. 1800 Y. 1
General clerks .
C 1500 )
< to y.(
( 900 )
Total clerical force . . 6
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
District superinten- ?
dents . . 5
Assistant section )
foremen . .
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
2 19 J Employed temporarily to re-
\ place absent sweepers.
Stable foremen .
Assistant stable C
foremen . . J
Regular drivers <
600 Y. >
660 Y. V
720 Y. $
Total driver force
Extra drivers , t
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,
STOCK AND PLANT
. $1200 Y.
Assistant dump-in- \
spectors . . j
Tug- and scow -in- i
spectors . . !
> 1200 Y.
. 110 M.
. 100 M.
. 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. )
General mechanical work.
General mechanical work.
Clerical force .
Sweeper force . .
Driver force .
Officers and men
Extra sweepers and drivers
All told, regulars and extras
MATERIAL AND PLANT
SWEEPERS' DEPARTMENT, AUGUST 31
Bicycles . . . . . . ... 75
Brooms . . . .-/'-''"..'. . ^ . - . . . 5,141
, , . . t . , . 30,769
3' DEPARTMENT, AUGUST 31 CONTINUED
PROPKBTY, ETC. NUMBEB
Cans, ash- 681
Cans, sprinkling- 2,007
Cans, paper-, fruit- 83
Carts, hoky-poky 20
Section stations . 41
DRIVERS' DEPARTMENT, AUGUST 31
Light wagons 31
Snow-plows, etc. 20
Harness sets 1,31.6
FINAL DISPOSITION, AUGUST 31
Barney dump-boats, hired . 13,
Delehanty dump-boat 1
Tug-boats, hired 4
H. C. C.
THE REMOVAL OF SNOW
BY H. L. STIDHAM, SNOW-INSPECTOR
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
THE REMOVAL OF SNOW 93
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.
THE REMOVAL OF SNOW
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
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
THE REMOVAL OF SNOW 97
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
" 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
STREETS CLEANED OF SNOW IN AVERAGE STORM, PRIOR
TO 1895. MILEAGE, 22.80.
THE REMOVAL OF SNOW 99
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-
STREETS CLEANED OF SNOW, FEBRUARY 12 TO FEBRUARY 16, 1897.
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
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
THE REMOVAL OF SNOW 101
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
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
THE REMOVAL OF SNOW 103
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-
THE REMOVAL OF SNOW 105
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
THE REMOVAL OF SNOW 107
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
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
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
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
THE REMOVAL OF SNOW 109
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.
STREET-RAILROADS AND PAVEMENTS IN NEW YORK*
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."
STREET-RAILROADS AND PAVEMENTS 111
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
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
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
retired modestly to the bottom of its hole, but the power
for mischief and discomfort is quite as great as in the
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-
STREET-RAILROADS AND PAVEMENTS 113
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. 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
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
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
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
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-
STREET-RAILROADS AND PAVEMENTS 115
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
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
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
STREET-CLEANING IN EUROPE: A REPORT OF OBSER
VATIONS MADE IN THE SUMMER OP 1896
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.
IN VIENNA 119
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
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
IN VIENNA 121
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
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
IN VIENNA 123
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
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
IN BUDAPEST 125
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
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
IN BUDAPEST 127
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
IN BERLIN 129
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.
IN BERLIN 131
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
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
IN BERLIN 133
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
IN BERLIN 135
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
IN PARIS 137
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
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,
IN PARIS 139
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."
IN PARIS 141
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
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-
IN PARIS H3
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
IN PARIS 145
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
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
IN PARIS 147
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,
IN LONDON 151
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
IN LONDON 153
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
IN LONDON 155
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
IN LONDON 157
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
IN BIRMINGHAM 159
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
IN BIRMINGHAM 161
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
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
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
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
IN BIRMINGHAM 163
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
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
IN BRUSSELS 165
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
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,
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
IN BRUSSELS 167
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
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
IN BRUSSELS 169
"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
IN MUNICH, COLOGNE, TURIN, AND GENOA 171
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
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."
MUNICH, COLOGNE, TURIN, AND GENOA
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-
IN MUNICH, COLOGNE, TURIN, AND GENOA 173
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
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-
IN MUNICH, COLOGNE, TURIN, AND GENOA 175
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
THE JUVENILE STREET-CLEANING LEAGUES
BY DAVID WILLARD, D. S. C., SUPERVISOR
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
THE JUVENILE STREET-CLEANING LEAGUES 179
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-
THE JUVENILE STREET-CLEANING LEAGUES 181
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:
AND WE WILL KEEP RIGHT ON
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,
Pray be mindful of them always,
If you 're not devoid of feeling,
Quickly to those barrels stealing,
Throw in each banana-peeling,
Do not drop the fruit you 're eating,
On the sidewalks, sewer, or grating,
But, lest you and I should quarrel,
Listen to my little carol:
Go and toss it in the barrel,
Look! whene'er you drop a paper,
In the wind it cuts a caper,
Down the street it madly courses,
And should fill you with remorses
When you see it scare the horses,
Paper-cans were made for papers,
Let 's not have this fact escape us,
And if you will lend a hand,
Soon our city dear shall stand
As the cleanest in the land,
THE JUVENILE STREET-CLEANING LEAGUES 183
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
" COL. WARING.
"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."
JUVENILE PROGRESS CLUB.
" 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
THE JUVENILE STREET-CLEANING LEAGUES 185
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
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
" 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
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,
Annual snow removal now,
Total daily sweeping in 1888,
Total daily sweeping in 1897,
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
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:
194 APPENDIX '
" 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
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
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
" 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
"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
" 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
" 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
"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:
Ashmen . . .
Deck-hands on steamboats
Yardmen . .
Flagmen . . .
$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
1.25 per day
1.50 " "
1.50 to $1.75 per day
" The day, "as here quoted, comprises from ten to twelve
" 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
"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
CLEANING BY HAND OR BY MACHINERY
"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 COST OF THE WORK
" 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
" 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."
BY C. HERSCHEL KOYL
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
New York and Brooklyn are pressed by necessity to
an early decision.
C. H. K.
HISTORY OF THE GARBAGE CONTRACT IN NEW YORK
BY MACDONOUGH CRAVEN
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
April 9, 1896.
DISPOSAL OF THE CITY'S WASTES
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
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
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,
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
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.
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
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,
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
collection of house wastes, 168.
cost of street-cleaning, 165.
cremation of refuse, 170.
force employed and wages, 165.
population and area, 164.
sale of sweepings, 169.
snow removal, 168.
work of the department, 165.
Budapest, cab-stands in, 124.
cost of cleaning and snow re
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
Children's badges and certificates,
influence over parents and neigh
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,
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,
of garbage removal in Paris,
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
of street-cleaning in Brussels,
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
Discipline, methods of, 21, 82, 84,
Diseases due to dust and damp
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
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.
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,
investigation of various pro
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
Horses of the New York depart
ment, 81, 90.
shod by contract, 83.
under supervision of veterinary
Hours of labor, 38, 43, 132, 137,
151, 159, 167.
Hydraulic carrier for ashes and
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.
Juvenile Street-Cleaning Leagues,
badges and certificates of, 180.
facilitate control of foreign pop
pledges of members, 183.
songs of, 181.
system introduced in schools,
weekly reports of, 183.
Kleinpest, 125, 128.
Length of paved streets in New
of streets kept clean, 42.
London, amount of refuse, 154.
disposition of refuse, 153, 155.
experience with destructors,
made up of independent com
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.
Methods of using sweepers' im
Munich, cleaned mainly by con
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
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,
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
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
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
Stock of the New York depart
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.
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,
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
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,
Wages, rates of, 101, 131, 159,
165, 173, 174.
Washing of streets, 125, 139, 151,
Women sweepers, 137, 172.
gtRSAr SWARPIEJ^ II