Next to cleanliness
In the early-1900s, Philadelphia started annual cleanup campaigns, calling on residents to tidy up their homes and neighborhoods. Thousands of placards, bulletins, billboards, streamers, circulars, and newspaper announcements — not to mention friendly reminders from religious leaders during their Sunday sermons — promoted the city’s second annual Clean-Up Week, which was held April 20-25, 1914, according to the April 1915 issue of The American City. Residents gathered household items for the city garbage collectors, including chairs, tables, carpet, decayed wood, tin cans, straw hats, ashes, Christmas trees and old, battered grand pianos. Waste generated at city buildings, retail stores and public service organizations, including stashes of garbage in employee desks, also was removed. In addition to residents’ homes, more than 500 lots were cleaned, removing more than 135,000 cubic yards of garbage from the city.
The Philadelphia More Beautiful campaign, part of the Street Department’s Sanitation Division, continues to organize cleanup events. Each Saturday from April to September, residents — directed by volunteer block captains — literally sweep across all areas of the city. To maintain a trash-free environment, residents will clean designated areas three times by the end of each season, coordinating with the Sanitation Division to remove the garbage. This year, 88,700 residents stuffed more than 93,400 garbage bags with refuse. After residents packed up their gloves, brooms and bags from the city’s 9,853 scheduled cleanups, the city collected 2.1 million pounds of trash.