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NYC is the second dirtiest city in the world

New York follows only Rome, Italy for the dirtiest city in the world, residents say.

Shaye Weaver
Written by
Shaye Weaver

New York City has a trash problem. We see it (and smell it) every day—garbage piles up, the streets are full of litter and the rats run rampant now more than ever. 

The sanitation issue is so bad that NYC Mayor Eric Adams promised to literally clean up our streets with a new garbage bin program and brand new street sweepers, which he says should reduce the rat population, which seems to be bigger than least since 2010.

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All of this is at top of mind for New Yorkers, so much so that our readers ranked it the second dirtiest city behind Rome, Italy in our Time Out Index—a poll of 27,000 city-dwellers from Melbourne to Madrid, Chicago to Copenhagen and Tel Aviv to Tokyo.

NYC is followed by Glasgow, Scotland and Stockholm, Sweden is the cleanest city, according to the Index.

This all tracks—NYC is making big moves this year to address the problem.

Giant, new trash bins are being installed across the five boroughs in hopes of improving quality of life, thwarting rats and actually making more room on busy city sidewalks. NYC is also spending $11 million for new street sweeper vehicles designed to fit in narrow spaces like bike lanes, aiming to clean previously unreachable areas and it has reinstated its Alternate Side Parking schedule so that the streets can be swept twice as often. During the pandemic, ASP had been scaled back. NYC is also considering a new bill that would require city agencies to identify where they could place public restrooms in each of NYC's zip codes, which would also help cut down on public urination and the like.

"It’s time to toss out the old way of collecting trash in our city," said New York City councilmember Shaun Abreu in an official statement. "The Clean Curbs pilot will introduce a top-notch tactic for keeping trash from piling up on our streets. Our residents and businesses can breathe a sigh of relief knowing these containers will keep the neighborhood clean and rodents at bay."

Do you think it's fair that NYC is ranked as the second dirtiest city in the world? Follow Time Out Everywhere on Facebook, @timeouteverywhere on Instagram and @timeout on Twitter, and you’ll be the first to hear when we launch our next global survey.

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