Headquartered in a small depot beneath the Williamsburg Bridge, the crew is responsible for overseeing 6,000 miles of road.

Even in the city that never sleeps, it’s easy to ignore all that happens before dawn. Every morning at 5 a.m., the New York City Department of Transportation’s self-described "pothole gang” takes to the roadways to seek, seal, and smooth over all potholes via a digital tracking map. The work, while mundane, is also backbreaking and dangerous, chiefly because of the traffic. Headquartered in a small depot beneath the Williamsburg Bridge, the crew is responsible for overseeing 6,000 miles of road. The crew might repair close to 4,000 potholes on a good day, having fixed a total of 200,666 potholes in 2012. After Hurricane Sandy, when heavy rain and floods had destroyed much of the city’s infrastructure, the crew sealed close to 30,000 potholes.

Inspired by a Tumblr called "The Daily Pothole," this earnest documentary spotlights a service that few knew existed and that many take for granted. As Richard Cicale, Director of Manhattan Street Maintenance says, his thick Brooklyn accent more audible with each word, the crew is “a vital, important part of the city – to some people anyway.”

This post originally appeared on The Atlantic.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Design

    The Problem With 'Fast-Casual Architecture'

    Washington, D.C., has a huge new waterfront development that’s fun, popular, and easy on the eyes. Is anything wrong with that?

  2. Transportation

    If You Drive Less Than 10,000 Miles a Year, You Probably Shouldn't Own a Car

    Up to one-quarter of all U.S. drivers might be better off using ride-sharing services instead.

  3. Transportation

    How Seattle Bucked a National Trend and Got More People to Ride the Bus

    Three experts in three very different positions weigh in on their city’s ridership success.

  4. Equity

    Big Tech Ought to Step Up for Cities

    Leading high-tech firms have increasingly gone from heroes to villains in the eyes of their neighbors. It’s in their own interest to help make cities more affordable and inclusive.

  5. Design

    Experimental City: The Sci-Fi Utopia That Never Was

    With solar energy, recycling, computers, and personal mass transit, the 1960s-era Minnesota Experimental City was a prescient and hopeful vision of the urban future. A new documentary tells its story.