A Method to the Madness: A Day With New York City's Pothole Crew

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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.” 

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Via Vimeo Staff Picks.

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Alessandra Ram is a former writer and producer for The Atlantic Video Channel. Her work has also appeared in Foreign Policy.

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