For over a century, the men and women of the New York City Department of Sanitation (DSNY) have heroically served the City as daily stewards of public health, and as emergency responders in extraordinary circumstances. As the workforce meets its latest challenge, picking up New York City during the coronavirus pandemic, we remember the countless challenges they’ve faced with unwavering strength.
In 1893, it was the Department of Street Cleaning (later renamed the Department of Sanitation), that started working to clear the streets of manure and waste, which had been spreading diseases for decades. From this public health crisis to the September 11th attacks, and Hurricane Sandy, the DSNY has always been there to pick up the pieces, clear the debris, and keep the city running.
These photos offer a glimpse into the Department’s rich history of heroism, inviting us to recognize the workforce for their nonstop efforts to keep New York City alive.
Featuring: Charlie Eisenbach, Michael Anton, and Andrea Booher, with various artists and works from the City of New York Department of Sanitation archives
Curated by: Andi Potamkin and Maggie Lee
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
This exhibit features the work of several photographers in addition to historical photographs and sketches from the DSNY archives.
Contemporary photographers include:
Charlie Eisenbach is a twenty year sanitation worker with the DSNY. He has a penchant for photography in his spare time. Mr. Eisenbach currently serves as an advisory board member with the Sanitation Foundation. Michael Anton is the official photographer of the New York City Department of Sanitation, and Andrea Booher is a photographer with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
The Sanitation Foundation (formerly known as the Foundation for New York’s Strongest) is the official nonprofit organization of the New York City Department of Sanitation (DSNY.) The Foundation leverages partnerships and non-traditional strategies to promote sustainability and advance the essential services of Sanitation employees.
EDUCATION DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
What do you know about sanitation workers? Have you seen them at work in your neighborhood?
Do these photos show you anything surprising about sanitation work? If so, what?
BONUS: Write a note/make a poster/use chalk to write a message for your sanitation workers and leave it outside to thank them for their work!