Kate Ascher. The Works: Anatomy of a City. New York, N.Y.: Penguin Books, 2007.
New York has 11,000 miles of local streets, 7,300 miles of secondary roads, and 1,250 miles of highways. The Grid Plan adopted in 1811 set the basis for Manhattan streets. Roads were clogged so more northbound streets were created.
The number of roads increased 45% from 1983 to 2002 while the population increased 10%. Yet, rush hour traffic increased from occurring an average of 3.4 hours to 7 to 8 hours a day.
There are 11,400 traffic lights in intersections. There are 40,000 total intersections. Traffic lights mostly run on 60, 90, or 120 second intervals. For many Manhattan streets, the 60 second intervals make traveling at 30 MPH, which is the speed limit, the best cruising speed. Traffic lights are controlled at fifteen computers, handling 720 intersections a piece, at the Traffic Management Center. Traffic is monitored there with 230 cameras.
There are 1.1 million cars and trucks entering New York City daily.
There are 3,250 pedestrian push buttons. Less than 25% of them work. The city is avoiding the $400 cost per unit it takes to remove the inoperable boxes.
There are 50 red light cameras photographing license plates of traffic offenders. 1.4 million summonses have results since this program began in 1993. There has been a 40% decrease in violations where cameras exist. There are 200 locations with inoperable dummy cameras.
The average auto speed in Midtown Manhattan is 4.8 MPH eastbound and 4.2 MPH westbound.
Asphalt roads were introduced in 1872, replacing impacted steel and gravel roals, Most roads are asphalt. 36 miles of road are cobblestones.
There are 130,000 priority regulation signs, such as “stop” and “do not enter” signs. There are 333,670 street lights, costing$50 million annually in electric costs.
There are 66,000 parking meters. Most parking meters run 1 to 9 minutes per hour longer in time. This is done to minimize charges against their accuracy. A parking meters holds from $30 to $60 in coins.
There are 2.5 million trees in New York City, 500,000 of which are along streets, as opposed to parks or in backyards.
The subway has 4.5 million riders daily. It is the fifth busiest subway, behind Tokyo, Moscow, Seoul, and Mexico City. The system has about 6,200 cars, which is the most in the world. There are 842 track miles, with 660 miles for passenger service and the rest for shops and storage. Two third of the tracks are underground. During rush hour, trains run from a minimum of every three minutes on four lines to a maximum of every nine minutes on four other lines. There are nine abandoned stations.
Trains approach stations at 25 MPH.. The doors are open for at least ten seconds.
The subway uses 1.8 billion kilowatt hours of electricity annually, making them the city’s largest user of electricity.
748 pumps from 309 pump plants pump 13 million gallons or less of water in one day from the subways.
There are 2,000 bridges and tunnels in New York. 14 of them are major bridges and tunnels.
It can take 50 people three hours to inspect a major bridge.
Car exhaust inside the Holland Tunnel goes into a tunnel ceiling duct. New air is brought in every 90 minutes.
Approximately 1,750 rail cars inter New York weekly. One car float operation exists, operation between Brooklyn and Jersey City.
Over 12,000 ships use New York harbor annually. About 40% of them are tankers carrying oil or refined products. About 45% are containers for warehouse and distribution. There are three major shipping lanes, Barnegat (from the south), Hudson (from the east), and Nantucket (from the north).
Two companies offer tug boat service. There are 20 McAllistar tug boats and 16 Moran tug boats.
The tonnage entering New York port is 12% of the nation’s total, making it the third largest port in tonnage behind Los Angeles and Long Beach.
Each year, 2.6 million tons of air cargo valued around $140 million enters New York’s three area airports. Entering in this fashion are 83% of the nation’s diamonds, 55% of the nation’s arts and antiques, and 47% of the nation’s perfumes and cosmetics. In addition, 40% of all U.S. seafood sent abroad airborne leaves through the New York region airports.
Four center generation plants produce about half of New York’s electricity. Power barges, originally designed for emergency power, are now permanent. Power comes from outside the city. Indian Point in Westchester County supplies about 20%. Power comes from New Jersey, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania. Hydro electric power accounts for 41% and wind power accounts for 2% of New York City’s electricity.
Steam heat can peak at 12 million pounds per hour requiring 1.6 million gallons of water per hour. 100,000 homes and businesses use steam. There are seven steam generating plants, five in Manhattan, one in Brooklyn, and one in Queens.
New Yorkers are involved in 12.5 million telephone calls daily. There are 80 switching stations. Nitrogen tanks, with three day shelf lives, are kept on streets to counteract the damage moisture has on underground telephone lines.
There are 30,000 pay phones from 63 phone companies in New York City. 20% of city residents do not have their own phone service.
311 information and referral operators receive under 45,000 calls daily with an average wait to answer of seven seconds.
About 23 million pieces of mail go through New York’s 264 post offices daily. The pneumatic tube mail network handles about 95,000 letters per day. There are over 8.000 blue mail collection boxes. 44 buildings have their own zip codes.
Four reservoirs, in the Delaware system 125 miles away, supply about half the city’s water. 40% comes from the Catskill system. The rest comes from 12 reservoirs and three lakes in Westchester and Putnam Counties. There is a total of 580 billion gallons of storage capacity. New York has 18 collecting reservoirs, two storage reservoirs, and within the city, four distributing reservoirs. There are four aqueducts. Almost all water is carried through two tunnels. A third 60 mile tunnel has been under construction and is expected to cost $6 billion. It is scheduled to open in 2020. Cracks throughout the water system lose about 36 million gallons. New York uses 1.3 billion gallons daily.
New York has 6,600 miles of sewer pipes and mains and 14 wastewater treatment plants, handling 1.3 billion gallons of sewage daily. There are 145,000 storm water catch basins and 5,000 seepage basins that place water into the ground. Sewage was dumped at one ocean site 12 miles away from the coast and second 106 miles away from the coast until 1992. Sludge was then taken by train to Sierra Blanca, Texas until 2001.
New York combines storm water with waste water which is then sent to treatment plants. Rain causes overflow about half the time, meaning untreated water, about one fifth of which is raw sewage, goes into waterways. New York has 450 outflows into the harbor. 23 locations have booms or floating barriers capturing floatable, which are paper, plastics, and Styrofoam, and preventing them from going into the waer. A city owned vessel, the Cormorant, captures more floatables with nets and is able to handle 24 tons of floatables.
There are 14 sewage treatment plants and about 100 pumping stations handling wastewater. Digesters heat sludge encouraging anaerobic bacteria to grow and then remove the sludge’s organic material over 15 to 20 days. Half the bio-solids are formed into pellets at Hunt Point Plant in the Bronx. Most of these pellets are used for Florida citrus fertilizer. Others go to Virginia cornfields and grazing land as well as to Colorado and wheat fields. Some is pelletized in Arkansas for use as fertilizer, composted in Pennsylvania for topsoil blending, and lime treating in New Jersey for corn and hay fertilizer.
The Sanitation Department employs 10,000 handling 12,000 tons of resident and municipal waste daily. It is collected two to four days a week. Recyclables are collected once a week. Commercial waste is handled by private companies.
There are 2,100 collection trucks, as well as 450 mechanical street sweepers, 350 salt and sand spreaders, 280 front loading collection vehicles, 275 specialized collection vehicles, and over 2,000 support vehicles. The Central Repair Shop is the largest nonmilitary shop in the nation. Most of the garbage winds up in landfills in Pennsylvania and Virginia. For over 50 years, garbage went to Fresh Kills Landfill, which is 2,200 acres (three times Central Park’s size) and taller than the Statute of Liberty.
19% of curbside waste is recyclables.
235 street sweepers operate daily. Each covers from 6 to 20 miles in one day. Their maximum speed is 37 MPH. They control 240 gallons of water. They refill at hydrants.
410 of salt spreading trucks are used at one inch of snow. At 2 to 4 inches of snow, all spreaders are used and 380 plows are used. At 4 to 6 inches, over 700 trucks are used. At over 6 inches of snow, all 1,335 plowing trucks are used.