2. Roosevelt Island Has the Country’s Only Automated Vacuum Collection System Serving a Residential Complex

This is probably one you didn’t expect: Roosevelt Island has the only Automated Vacuum Collection System (AVAC) to serve a residential complex in the entire nation. An AVAC is essentially a high-speed waste transportation system that uses underground pneumatic tubes to a collection station, where it is compacted and sealed in containers. The AVAC moves 5.8 tons of trash per day.

Operated by the New York City Department of Sanitation, it is only one of two such systems in the United States at this scale (the other being at Disney World). For nearly half a century, the island’s residential trash has been handled without curbside truck pickup, limiting the need for workers to be out handling the garbage. The waste stays in an inlet until a sensor notes the garbage has reached a certain level. The AVAC system automatically opens the valve and sucks garbage at 60 to 70 miles per hour through 20-inch underground tubes to the central facility.