Update February 28, 2023: Over the past few weeks, we’ve received several tips about surveillance footage going around which catches a perpetrator in the act. However, the 94th precinct says that the videos they’ve obtained are “not ID quality” though they are actively investigating the case.

I used to live on Noble Street, between Franklin and Manhattan, and each Monday morning, without fail, I had to wipe off my shoes as they tracked sundry papers down the block. The papers looked like they were torn out of a book, usually something informational like a religious text or TV guide. 

Now, I’m sure we all have random papers in our weekly recycling bin. But I need to stress to those who have yet to experience this phenomenon with their own eyes the SHEER VOLUME of papers floating down the street. It looks like the work of someone with an enormous collection of old books who spends their weekend tearing apart pages before scattering them in the wind. 

Is it possible that someone’s recycling has just gotten away from them and the wind carried it away? Sure, it’s possible. But I would love to know the purpose of the pages in the first place. A weird fetish? Leftovers that didn’t make the cut from a paper maché project?

Image credit: Alyssa Lucy

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  1. I’m glad someone is trying to get to the bottom of this! I live on Franklin St between Noble and Milton, and regularly walk down this block, and have often wondered at the hundreds (?) of pages strewn along almost the entire length of the street.

    I would guess that, yes, a local resident scrupulously removes the pages of books and magazines from their bindings before placing them in the recycling (apparently the glue is not recyclable), but then either they fail to secure the lid of the bin, or the bin itself is blown over by high wind, etc.

    The resulting scene has a sort of whimsical appeal, but all the paper must be a nuisance for the street-sweeping and sanitation crews.

  2. Whoever is doing this, please stop. If you think you’re some esoteric novelty, with artistic play for the community, well think again. Everyone on Noble St is getting so annoyed. It was cute the first time, but please stop. We’re also sick and tired of cleaning up your crap.

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