Need to Know

Trash Problem Grows in NYC’s Harlem Neighborhood

A recent study reveals that the 125th Street Business Improvement District could be a laboratory for dealing with the city’s sanitation challenges

Twenty-four years ago, Barbara Askins started the 125th Street Business Improvement District in an effort to combat the growing trash problem in New York City’s Harlem neighborhood. Now, after years of seeing some success, the trash problem is back and growing quicker than ever thanks to a resurgence in street vendors and new businesses.

Recently, Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs conducted a study about the district and found that it could be a laboratory for dealing with the city’s sanitation challenges. The study includes suggestions like monetizing the collection of trash and deputizing visitors to 125th Street to report the problems to 311.

The New York Times has more details:

When Barbara Askins started the 125th Street Business Improvement District 24 years ago, a river of trash flowed down Harlem’s busiest commercial corridor at the end of most days.

“It was total chaos,” Ms. Askins said. “The trash was blowing everywhere. It would hit you in the face while walking down the street.”

After hiring a team to sweep litter and empty trash cans, Ms. Askins felt like things were under control — until 125th Street started to boom again in the last few years. A resurgence in street vendors, along with new businesses such as Whole Foods and malls filled with national retailers, has added to the almost 160,000 pedestrians who cross 125th Street each week and created more trash.

Read the full story here.

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