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Other Water and Waste Events:

Sanitary condition of the City

NYC Creates the Dept. of Public Works

The Great Blizzard

: Appointing of Commissioner of Street Cleaning

Street Cleaning Exhibition

 1895 | Colonel George E. Waring Appointed Commissioner of Street Cleaning

The political turmoil of the early 1890's culminated in the Committee of Seventy's investigation of city government. The Committee of Seventy was composed of members of the Chamber of Commerce and other influential New York citizens from Protestant and Jewish reform organizations. After much debate, the Committee settled on reform candidate William Strong for the upcoming mayoral election. Strong, a city financier with no prior political experience, was elected on the republican ticket in 1894. Cleaning the city was a top priority of Strong's reform administration. In an effort to achieve sanitary reform, Mayor Strong appointed the dynamic Colonel George E. Waring as Commissioner of Street Cleaning in 1895. An energetic and charismatic figure, Waring helped to bring the sanitation problem to the public eye and rally public support for cleaning city streets. Besides revamping the organization of the department, Waring introduced new techniques and technology to the Department of Street Cleaning. Waring instilled a sense of pride in his workforce by issuing all employees new sparkling white uniforms. Waring's men earned the epithet "White Wings" as result of their immaculate appearance. The uniforms served the additional purpose of attracting the public's attention to the activities of the Street Cleaning Department. In addition, Waring concentrated public attention on cleanliness by targeting the city's children. Waring developed an organization of Juvenile Street Cleaning Leagues that prompted good behavior, cleanliness and respect for the city's ordinances. Waring's juvenile helpers were also a valuable tool for spreading hygiene information to their non-English speaking parents. Waring's efforts were central to growing attempts to conceptualize garbage not just as a public nuisance but as the next serious problem that the city and, indeed, urban America must tackle. Melosi, p. 20, Waring, Street Cleaning, Hammack, p 148-150.