In the late 19th century, New York City pedestrians would find themselves knee-deep in dung, food waste and the rotting bodies of dead animals. That all changed in 1895, when white-suited sanitation workers began sweeping up the city's detritus, says trash historian Robin Nagle. Despite initial resistance that required them to work with police escorts, sanitation workers won over residents through a combination of delivering clear results and using innovative promotional and enforcement strategies.

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