Snow Shows City Contrasts

New York and Washington are two contrasting cities. People in New York walk with a pep in their step. Those in Washington pad along slowly. Workers at Starbuck’s in New York get orders going quickly and deliver services promptly. Those in Washington could care less whether their customers are in any sort of rush. Most are not.

How the towns deal with snow reflects this relative energy and apathy. True, Washington was crushed with more snow last week than New York. But both towns faced in excess of 10 inches of snow on two separate occasions these last days. The streets and sidewalks of New York were promptly cleared of all but the most innocuous snow. The city did not shut down, amid either snow fall, though schools were closed for one day in the first of the two.

In Washington, schools and everything else closed for a week. And today, a full week after the second snow storm came and went, there are still mountains of snow all around town. Snow is piled high on every street corner, including all the busy intersections, with drifts from three to ten feet.  The sidewalks remain snow strewn, with small narrow pathways to walk.

Washington snow plows were busy during the snow falls and for a short bit afterwards. Then they went into hibernation. Since, no city agency, nor many private land owners, have chosen to do anything more. How hard would it be, now, to shovel the sidewalks and intersections? Wouldn’t that make it easier for people to walk around town? No doubt. But, in Washington, no one seems to care about how long it takes to get anywhere or get anything done.  The snow may be piled up here for many weeks to come.  In New York, this would get a mayor fired.

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7 Responses

  1. Patrick says:

    New York City has received less snow than Washington in both absolute terms and relative to historic levels. Given this fact, and that New York has a much larger snow-removal apparatus to begin with, it’s no surprise that New York was able to dig itself out more efficiently. After all, snow totals in NYC this year are about 31 inches, less than half of the historic winter of ’95-’96, while Washington’s 55 inches set a new record for the city.

    Quit your whining.

  2. Bruce Boyden says:

    DC has, like, one plow.

  3. Christa L. says:

    The local news was talking about how political mishaps don’t seem to anger the public much against Mayor Fenty, but that most people see the lack of snow removal as a very visible sign of incompetence and that his approval ratings are expected to drop dramatically because of this. I think that for many people, snow removal is the only compass of the DC government’s action (*ahem* inaction) that most people have seen so far.

  4. John Burgess says:

    DC has a law that requires land owners and tenants to remove snow from sidewalks within eight hours of the cessation of snow. That’s a law that clearly not being enforced, however.

    I’m stunned that the sidewalks in front of lawyers’ offices were left to be compacted into ice, days after the snow stopped. On the other hand, stores, both small and parts of national chains, were clearing their walkways pretty promptly.

    DC has more than one snow plow, but not a lot more. It simply doesn’t make budgetary sense to have a slew of plows that sit unused for the better part of a decade. Budgetary sense can make life miserable or just a hassle. I know a lot of DC-ites who, having dug out their cars, won’t use them for fear of not finding a space when they return. Good thing that Spring follows Winter…

  5. cantinflas says:

    Even assuming both cities got the same relative amount of snow to their normal levels, doesn’t it makes sense that snow removal is cheaper to the NYC gov’t than to the DC gov’t since there are far fewer square feet of snow to be cleared per capita in NY than in DC?

  6. Civ Pro King says:

    NYC has always been like that, unlike many other places that I’ve visited. Probably D.C.’s reaction/inaction is an analogy to the people doing work on the hill . . .

  7. Larry, And, to think, Baltimore was just as, and likely worse, that DC! It was just crazy. Thanks for the post, Danielle