1990s Brooklyn Trash Can Images.
June 10, 2011 5:36 AM   Subscribe

I need to know what a trash can looked like in Brooklyn, NY in the 90s.

I am doing a research project and need images of trash cans from brooklyn in the 90s. Specifically, I am looking for one that would be placed outside of apartment buildings, but waste cans on the street will also be helpful.

I have exhausted all of my immediate resources and am now looking to the hive for help. I have searched both the brooklyn library and brooklyn historical society. Please help!
posted by bd to Society & Culture (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Have you contacted the Department of Sanitation? Maybe they have some sort of collection of photographs?
posted by dfriedman at 5:44 AM on June 10, 2011

Corner trash cans generally looked like this, as opposed to this. Also, these older cans mostly began their lives painted orange.
posted by thejoshu at 5:54 AM on June 10, 2011

You might also send an e-mail to Kevin Walsh of Forgotten NY. That site is an incredible resource.
posted by thejoshu at 5:58 AM on June 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

I grew up in an apartment building in Brooklyn, NY. Moved there in 1985 and lived there until 2007.

There was always this huge pile of trash bags. Sidewalk pickups for buildings never had cans. Apartment buildings had areas by the ground floor courtyards where the super would collect the trash between pickups. These were always a mixed bag of 33 gallon garbage dins. Most commonly it was the cheap silver garbage can but the only can that was regulated (as far as shape and size) were the yellow, blue, and green ones for recycling.

Homeowners would usually have the large plastic, dark brown ones if my memory serves me correctly. But it wasn't like where I live now in FL, where there are bins given out or purchased from the sanitation department which have to be uniform so that the machine can pick them up. NYC just had dudes hanging off the back of a truck, so they didn't have to be any specific size, shape, color, or even there at all. Plenty of people just piled the trash in their alleyways, and then dragged them out to the curb on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
posted by Debaser626 at 6:04 AM on June 10, 2011

I tried the department of sanitation but they were not so helpful. I would even say rude...
posted by bd at 6:05 AM on June 10, 2011

To clarify: every building I've lived in, visited, or walked by on trash day, didn't have trash cans. The super collects the trash from either the trash compactor in the basement (if you were lucky enough to have a chute) or the collection area in the courtyard, placed the bags people put in those trash cans into super heavy duty 55 gallon bags, and then piled those on the street.
posted by Debaser626 at 6:07 AM on June 10, 2011

"the only can that was regulated (as far as shape and size) were the yellow, blue, and green ones for recycling. "

Anyone have any more specifics or images of the yellow, blue and green recycling?
posted by bd at 6:17 AM on June 10, 2011

Yeah, I grew up in NYC (Manhattan), and there never any trash cans outside of buildings--trash was always collected in the building basement (either by chute or with 55-gallon plastic cans) and disposed of on the street in bags. When recycling came online in the 90s, my recollection is that it was first required to be in clear bags. Which, of course, allowed industrious homeless people to see which bags had soda cans in them and thus dump the recycling all over the street.

I don't think I ever saw any "yellow, blue and green" recycling, other than these.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 6:25 AM on June 10, 2011

Have you tried searching Flickr for images of Brooklyn in the 90s? There's bound to be some street shots on there that may help.
posted by mippy at 6:27 AM on June 10, 2011

I have had little luck on Flickr.
posted by bd at 6:31 AM on June 10, 2011

Apolgies.. as far as the cans, I was remembering the cartoon poster NYC Sanitation had. Admiral Haddock has it... see here for current guidelines.. (we didn't have any colored decals in the 90s, it was clear blue tint bags for bottles and cans, and straight clear for the rest..)
posted by Debaser626 at 6:41 AM on June 10, 2011

I grew up in Brooklyn in the 90s; my apartment building had the trash chutes, but my grandmother lived in a brownstone-style building in Boro Park; they had about 3 of the silver trash cans to which Debaser626 linked in his answer (but imagine less shiny and more matte-like silver). They were kept in front of/just off to the side from the building.
posted by litnerd at 7:49 AM on June 10, 2011

I would suggest you watch old episodes of Law and Order from the 90s. They were always in Brooklyn looking for perps or digging around in the trash for evidence. From my own experience, some buildings did have trash cans or dumpsters but they usually were not on the main street. Rather they were in an alleyway between buildings or in the rear entrance where deliveries, movers, contractors, etc came in and then bags were put out on the street.
posted by spicynuts at 9:27 AM on June 10, 2011

This question immediately made me think of the final scene from Do The Right Thing. That was a little earlier than you want in that it came out in 1989, and I guess Spike Lee might have used artificial trash cans for cinematic purposes, but I'd imagine they are faithful.
posted by painquale at 9:30 AM on June 10, 2011

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