2. Roosevelt Island’s AVAC/Trash Collection System

Cyclone in AVAC facility Roosevelt Island

Roosevelt Island is home to the only AVAC (Automated Vacuum Collection) system in a residential community. According to NYC-Grid, “AVAC connects all the buildings on [Roosevelt] Island with a series of high-speed pneumatic tubes, which forces trash to fly under resident’s feet at 50 MPH.” Conceived as a utopian solution to minimize street trash and noise from garbage trucks, the AVAC system moves 5.8 tons of trash per day. The system can’t process everything though–large furniture, glass and construction waste are picked up separately. Last year, it was reported that transportation experts were looking at the feasibility of installing AVAC systems for the High Line and the Coney Island Boardwalk through a New York State grant.

The iconic Ansonia Hotel on the Upper West Side also had pneumatic tubes snaking through its walls at one point, which delivered messages between tenants and staff. There also seems to be evidence that the pneumatic tube mail system extended further into Queens and could connect Holmes Airport, the first municipal airport in NYC, to Manhattan. Read more about it here.