One of the things that impressed me most about Istanbul is how tidy it is. I mean, don’t get me wrong, any city of nearly 15 million people is going to display some soot, grime and wear. And the İstanbullular as individuals don’t seem any more fastidious than, say, New Yorkers. You see people flicking cigarette butts in the streets everywhere, and a fair amount of casual littering. Plus, we were told by our vacation rental rep that when we needed to discard of our household trash, we were to find a place on the street where others had dumped their trash. But under no circumstances were we to let a policeman see us doing it, because it’s illegal.
So why don’t you see cigarette butts and litter and piles of trash on the streets? Because Istanbul is constantly cleaning itself up. Those illegal trash piles? They never get very big and they are gone—all of them—by sunrise, every day. Mechanical street sweepers are omnipresent, as are human street sweepers with brooms and dustpans. Relentlessly, they go after every cigarette butt and gum wrapper in sight.
And along Istanbul’s extensive waterfront teeming with tourists? You’d expect to see quite a bit of floating debris in the water, wouldn’t you? Well, you may see a little here and there, but not for long. The Rube Goldbergian boat in the video above sees to that. Dork that I am, I could’ve watched it all day.