Posts tagged with manhattan
A Day with New York City’s Pothole Repair Crew
Each morning, at a small depot tucked away under the Williamsburg Bridge, the New York City workers who call themselves the “pothole gang” pore over a giant spreadsheet known as “The Daily Pothole.” On it are thousands of potholes all over the city: giant gorges caused by rain and sleet, small interconnected divots that can flatten tires, and pretty much every other roadway wound you can imagine. The sun is barely up, and yet for these men — members of a street maintenance team tasked by the Department of Transportation with roadway repair — the race has already begun.
Over the next eight hours, they will hit the streets, filling giant yellow trucks with smoldering hot asphalt, navigating endless traffic, and smoothing as many potholes as they can before the sun goes down (only to do it all again the next day). Does it get tiring? Sure. But in a city that’s always moving, roadway repair is crucial. On a good day, the team might fill 4,000 potholes. In an average week, they could resurface 100,000 square yards of road. After Hurricane Sandy, their crews removed 2,500 tons of debris. And every day, on a Tumblr called The Daily Pothole — named after that early morning spreadsheet — New Yorkers can take a peek inside the workings of a city system few have likely thought about. We spent a day with six men who help make up New York City’s pothole repair team.
Pizza That Never Sleeps (Even in a Hurricane)
When Hurricane Sandy, with her innocent name, plunged New York City into infinite darkness, officials warned New Yorkers to be prepared: Stay inside. Stock up on tuna. Do whatever it took to feed yourself when the bodegas shut down. But in the city that never sleeps, there are certain things held to be self evident — even in a hurricane. One of them is that you’ll always be able to get a slice of pizza.
New York City Pizza makers didn’t take that expectation lightly. All over the city — whether they were operating on a car battery, a generator, or just giving out slices cold — pizzerias worked to keep New Yorkers fed. At Motorino, in the East Village, owners operated by candlelight. At Joe’s, in Soho, staffers used flashlights to peer into gas-fed ovens to see when their crust was baked. At 11B, in Alphabet City, they gave out slices cold. And at Lombardi’s, in downtown Soho — the first licensed pizzeria in America, opened more than 100 years ago — manager Gilbert Soto walked in, found a bit of coal in the oven, and decided to abandon the electric mixers and begin producing Lombardi’s famous thick-crust dough by hand. “They were just happy to come here,” Soto says of his staff, who trekked in from all over the five boroughs. “They said, ‘Hey, if we got a way to get there, we’ll make it.’”
At first, Soto’s pizza men worked under candelight and headlamps. Then they rigged up a power inverter to a car outside to fuel a few light bulbs. By Thursday, they had an intricate setup of batteries to power lights both inside and outside the restaurant.
Staying open through a blackout and a storm? It’s probably not the most cost-effective strategy. But in the city that never sleeps — and the pizzeria that’s fed it for more than a century — New Yorkers could find a bit of comfort in Lombardi’s perfectly cooked crust covered in melted cheese and tomato sauce.