1972 Photograph of a 55-Foot-Tall Mountain of Trash, a Single Day of City Garbage

55-foot-tall mountain of waste, an accumulation of a single day of New York City garbage.
55-foot-tall mountain of waste, an accumulation of a single day of New York City garbage.
(photo back)

The Lively Morgue is a daily photo blog from the New York Times in which an original photo from the newspaper's archives is reposted along with tidbits of information gleamed from the historical article it accompanied. Along with a rescan of the original photograph, the backs of each photo are also scanned, giving a behind-the-scenes look at the editorial process of one of the world's best newspapers.

Today's post shows a photograph of a 55-foot-tall mountain of waste, an accumulation of a single day of New York City garbage.

On Staten Island, a 55-foot-tall pile of garbage that measured 300 feet long by 240 feet wide amounted to a single day’s accumulation of New York City trash. City officials climbed the pile — between slips and disgusting slides — in order to bring attention to New York’s dire problems in waste management.

“Most New Yorkers don’t realize how much garbage they throw away each day — more than the cities of London and Tokyo combined,” said the Environmental Protection Administrator Jerome Kretchmer. Explaining the virtues of recycling, the state’s commissioner of environmental conservation, Henry Diamond, noted, “Why, you’ve got a hill here that’s worth maybe $120,000.” “You buy it,” Mr. Kretchmer replied.

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