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

Tumblr Storyboard documents one day with six brave men from New York City’s pothole repair crew.

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.” 

For more from Tumblr Storyboard, visit their site.

Via Vimeo Staff Picks.

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

Our Incredible, Microscopic World

Highlights from Nikon's Small World in Motion competition, featuring zebrafish embryos, killer T cells attacking cancer, and much more

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

The Horrors of Rat Hole Mining

"The river was our source of water. Now, the people won't touch it."

Video

What's Your Favorite Slang Word?

From "swag" to "on fleek," tweens choose.

Video

Cryotherapy's Dubious Appeal

James Hamblin tries a questionable medical treatment.

Video

Confessions of Moms Around the World

In Europe, mothers get maternity leave, discounted daycare, and flexible working hours.

Video

How Do Trees Know When It's Spring?

The science behind beautiful seasonal blooming

More in Video

Just In