To what we’re sure is the surprise of no one, questionable smells and waste disposal practices in Greenpoint are nothing new (this is, after all, the same region that is home to three environmental Superfund sites — two federal and one state — thanks to decades of corporate dumping, oil spills, irresponsible manufacturing practices, and various other pollutants).

While we revisited the 1989 creation of the G.A.S.P. (Greenpoint Against Smell and Pollution) newsletter to address the “garbage-ification of Greenpoint” back in April, public complaints extend far earlier that. As in, 70 years earlier.

On July 29, 1919, The Standard Union published a blurb declaring the Department of Street Cleaning’s dumping practices an olfactory public nuisance. And despite the recent maligned return of alternate-side parking, this probably isn’t the street cleaning you’re picturing. Cleaners of the time took to the streets by hand (well, broom) to do their tidying before dumping the contents of their carts at Apollo St. (Or, on special occasions, utilizing a horse-drawn squeegee.)

And to think, the Staten Island landfill overflow wouldn’t even roll into town for multiple decades.

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