The White Wings


Waring’s army of white clad sweepers quickly changed the face of New York.  Where Tammany Hall was more inclined to line their pockets by sweeping in highly visible areas, Waring’s White Wings started in the worst of areas.  In a few short years, diseases like cholera dropped substantially.  The putrid stench from the streets were at a minimal, and the rodent infestation was all but gone.  All over the city, the streets were cleaned like never before.  Newspaper reporters heralded Waring as the “Apostle of Cleanliness” (SLP, 1896).

Wing cleaning up


The differences between the streets prior to Waring’s White Wings compared to the latter images of the streets tell their own story.  So much in fact, that Waring turned street sweeping from a system of patronage to a necessary civil service.




Colonel Waring would only be the Commissioner of Street Sweeping for three years before he left in 1898.  Shortly after he left the office, President McKinley appointed him to study sanitation in Cuba.  That same year Waring contracted Yellow Fever and died.  Waring’s influences continued to be implemented and helped the establishment of the Department of Sanitation in 1929 and can still be seen today (Oatman-Stanford, 2013).