Well it doesn’t pong really badly all the time. It’s mainly a problem when the weather is warm to boiling. In the depths of winter it’s not as bad. But in company with all the stylishly dressed New Yorkers, elegant Art Deco and Beaux Arts buildings, glittering shops and the thronging wide eyed tourists, those smells can be mighty instrusive. it’s a noxious note that cuts against the effortless and sophisticated urbanity that is New York.
The smells fall into categories. The downside of being the city which offers you food from every corner of the world is that when you put them all together some of those smells clash or overwhelm. Don’t go anywhere near the Durian Fruit on sale in Chinatown. There’s the smells of raw fish, Halal food sold from food carts, BBQ from anywhere, hot dogs sold by vendors and any cafe or food cart that is frying heaps of onion or meat, everywhere. Most New Yorkers get to know the areas they want to avoid if they can because of unpleasant food smells.
Then there’s the subway. See the video and reflect on the affect of all those teeming bodies jammed in together in boiling weather, uncertain air condtioning in trains and none on subway stations, questionable to no personal hygiene from some sad New Yorkers and you have not idea how bad it can get.
NYC generates an incredible tonnage of garbage every day and it’s Sanitation Department are excellent is excellent at picking it all up. And there’s laws about confining it in big garbage bags but, when it’s put out in the morning, then spends a day in the boiling sun and only taken away at night, the pong mounts. And if it’s really raining it doesn’t take long for the smells to multiply either.
There’s sewerage plant smells in outer boroughs but in Manhattan, sidewalk grates that are letting fumes escape from sewerage tunnels below can give passersby a nasty pong or two. Of course anyone living near the Gowanus Canal knows not to breathe too depply on certain occasions.
Dealing with all those smell and how cranky New Yorkers get when they can’t stand them anymore is a problem for NYC officials. There’s split responsibility. The Department of Health deals with indoor smells and the Department of Environmental Protection deals with outdoor smells. Pity the New Yorker who juist wants someone, anyone to make it go away.
New Yorkers regularly complain to the authorties when they don’t like the smells in their neighborhood and you will be unsurprised to learn that Manhattan generates heaps more complaints than any other part of the City. Yup, the thing that generates the most smells is very close living conditions and millions of people. Manhattanites usually just say, “Live with It!”