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Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Phillip Kalantzis Cope

Why are there random ghost blocks in NYC where zero trash cans exist?

Will Gleason
Written by
Will Gleason

A few weeks ago, I was in Rockefeller Center on my lunch break and was just finishing the last bit of my late-morning iced coffee. I wanted to quickly pop into a store to pick up a shirt, so I started looking around for the nearest trash receptacle to dispose of my now-useless plastic Starbucks cup. I didn’t see any, so I walked across the plaza to check out the next block. There weren’t any bins there either, so I decided to walk to the next block. That block was devoid of cans as well, and so, with a rising sense of panic, I started briskly walking toward Fifth Avenue, desperately scanning the sidewalk for a place, any place at all, to dispose of the remnants of my overpriced coffee in a socially acceptable manner. Reader, I never found one.

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Realizing I was on track to spend the majority of my lunch break roaming the streets of New York looking for a trash bin that may or may not exist, I made a dark choice. I approached a parked dark-purple Jetta, paused, looked up at the sky, slowly leaned over and placed my cup underneath the car. “I’m sorry,” I whispered. “I just really don’t want to bring you into J.Crew.”

Am I proud that I placed a plastic cup under an idle midsize four-door in midtown? No. But unfortunately, parts of this city are inexplicably garbage-can wastelands. It’s almost as if a trash bin rapture took place, and all the godly ones happened to be located in parts of midtown, the West Side by the High Line and outside any museum. It’s no wonder you see so many piles of overflowing trash cans on the street. It’s just an example of people taking advantage of a sure thing. As the song goes, you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone—or until you’re kneeling next to a Jetta.

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