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. A man rides an electric scooter in Los Angeles.
    Perspective

    Why Do City Dwellers Love to Hate Scooters?

    Electric scooters draw a lot of hate, but if supported well by cities, they have the potential to provide a widespread and beneficial mode of transportation.

  2. a map comparing the sizes of several cities
    Maps

    The Commuting Principle That Shaped Urban History

    From ancient Rome to modern Atlanta, the shape of cities has been defined by the technologies that allow commuters to get to work in about 30 minutes.

  3. A mural of Woody Guthrie in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
    Life

    Don't Move People Out of Distressed Places. Instead, Revitalize Them

    A new study shows that place-based policies are key to helping people in distressed cities, where investments should be tailored to local economic conditions.

  4. People walk along a new elevated park that winds through a historic urban area.
    Equity

    How to Build a New Park So Its Neighbors Benefit

    A new report from UCLA and the University of Utah surveys strategies for “greening without gentrification.”

  5. Life

    How Urban Democrats Became the Most Powerful Force in U.S. Politics

    The 150-year history of how a once-rural party became synonymous with density.

×