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NYC streets left littered with debris from illegal July 4 fireworks

Photos have revealed the aftermath of wild July 4 celebrations and illegal fireworks displays that flooded the streets of New York City a year after the holiday was hampered by the coronavirus pandemic. 

Illicit displays lit up the sky and raged through the night across the city from sunset to sunrise, with the noise and frequency of the blasts impossible to miss.

On Monday morning, empty shells and cases of fireworks littered the streets as trash cans overflowed and reddish debris covered the sidewalks in upper Manhattan neighborhoods like Washington Heights and Harlem. 

The city has long been plagued by illegal fireworks set off from street corners, but the issue was exacerbated last year when corporate and municipal displays were shut down, causing more residents resorted to hosting their own makeshift displays. 

This year was no different as many residents were eager to celebrate the emergence from the pandemic and lifts on public gatherings on the 245th anniversary of the country’s founding. 

Photos have revealed the aftermath of wild July 4 celebrations and illegal fireworks displays that flooded the streets of New York City a year after the holiday was hampered by the coronavirus pandemic

On Monday morning, empty shells and cases of fireworks littered the streets as trash cans overflowed and reddish debris covered the sidewalks in upper Manhattan neighborhoods like Washington Heights and Harlem

On Monday morning, empty shells and cases of fireworks littered the streets as trash cans overflowed and reddish debris covered the sidewalks in upper Manhattan neighborhoods like Washington Heights and Harlem

The streets of Washington Heights were painted with debris and garbage left from illegal fireworks displays

The streets of Washington Heights were painted with debris and garbage left from illegal fireworks displays

Illegal fireworks displays left Washington Heights a mess the morning after July 4

Illegal fireworks displays left Washington Heights a mess the morning after July 4 

A man looks on at all the trash left on a street corner on July 5

A man looks on at all the trash left on a street corner on July 5

Locals went about their day despite the overflowing litter left from July 4 celebrations

Locals went about their day despite the overflowing litter left from July 4 celebrations

Dozens of empty boxes of illegal fireworks covered the streets on July 5

Dozens of empty boxes of illegal fireworks covered the streets on July 5

The streets of Washington Heights were lined with empty shells and reddish debris from fireworks set off the night before

The streets of Washington Heights were lined with empty shells and reddish debris from fireworks set off the night before

Debris and litter from illegal fireworks displays covered the streets as trash cans overflowed

 Debris and litter from illegal fireworks displays covered the streets as trash cans overflowed

Revelers trashed the streets of Manhattan with their illicit displays

Revelers trashed the streets of Manhattan with their illicit displays

Locals showered the sky in fireworks on July 5 at 3am in East New York

Locals showered the sky in fireworks on July 5 at 3am in East New York

Revelers trashed the streets as the set off the illegal displays

Revelers trashed the streets as the set off the illegal displays

Illicit displays lit up the sky and raged through the night across the city from sunset to sunrise

Illicit displays lit up the sky and raged through the night across the city from sunset to sunrise

While it hasn’t released any data on last night, the NYPD seized $54,000-worth of illegal fireworks in the weeks leading up to Independence Day, according to ABC7

The confiscations came from three different busts, in which 22 people were arrested and authorities also seized six illegal firearms. Nearly half of those arrested live in Brooklyn, including two individuals with 42 and 33 prior arrests, respectively, the news outlet reported. 

Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said in a statement that police developed information on major suppliers and intercepted illegal fireworks ‘that result in multiple serious injuries to adults and too often children, every summer in New York City’ and create a ‘hazard of fire and explosion’ when they’re stored before sale. 

From January to June 6 this year, Manhattan residents made 2,809 fireworks-related 911 calls — an 18.4 percent increase compared to the same period in 2020, Sergeant Edward Riley, an NYPD spokesperson, told DailyMail.com. 

He added that residents made 2,827 calls to 311, the non-emergency number to report fireworks — a rough 902percent increase from the same time last year. 

 

The noise and frequency of the blasts were impossible to miss

The noise and frequency of the blasts were impossible to miss

The city has long been plagued by illegal fireworks set off from street corners

The city has long been plagued by illegal fireworks set off from street corners

The issue was exacerbated last year when corporate and municipal displays were shut down, causing more residents resorted to hosting their own makeshift displays

The issue was exacerbated last year when corporate and municipal displays were shut down, causing more residents resorted to hosting their own makeshift displays

This year was no different as many residents were eager to celebrate the emergence from the pandemic and lifts on public gatherings on the 245th anniversary of the country's founding

This year was no different as many residents were eager to celebrate the emergence from the pandemic and lifts on public gatherings on the 245th anniversary of the country’s founding

While it hasn't released any data on last night, the NYPD has seized $54,000 worth of illegal fireworks the weeks leading up to Independence Day

While it hasn’t released any data on last night, the NYPD has seized $54,000 worth of illegal fireworks the weeks leading up to Independence Day

From January to June 6 this year, Manhattan residents made 2,809 fireworks-related 911 calls — an 18.4 percent increase compared to the same period in 2020

From January to June 6 this year, Manhattan residents made 2,809 fireworks-related 911 calls — an 18.4 percent increase compared to the same period in 2020

This year, residents made 2,827 calls to 311, the non-emergency number to report fireworks — a rough 902percent increase from the same time last year

This year, residents made 2,827 calls to 311, the non-emergency number to report fireworks — a rough 902percent increase from the same time last year

Illegal fireworks displays in Harlem raged on right outside residential buildings late into the night

Illegal fireworks displays in Harlem raged on right outside residential buildings late into the night

Revelers lit illegal fireworks on the streets of Harlem late on July 4

Revelers lit illegal fireworks on the streets of Harlem late on July 4

The site and sound of illegal fireworks displays was impossible to miss across the city

The site and sound of illegal fireworks displays was impossible to miss across the city 

People set off illicit fireworks near the John Haynes Holmes Towers on July 4

People set off illicit fireworks near the John Haynes Holmes Towers on July 4

A similar scene played out in neighborhoods across the city, like this one near 150th St. and St. Nicholas Avenue

A similar scene played out in neighborhoods across the city, like this one near 150th St. and St. Nicholas Avenue

Last year, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio formed an ‘illegal fireworks task force’ to crack down on the sale of explosives across the city after dozens of furious residents honked their horns outside his mansion on June 22 demanding action on the public nuisance.  

The task force includes 10 officers from NYPD Intelligence Bureau, 12 FDNY Fire Marshals and 20 members of the Sheriff’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation. 

The creation of the task force came after data revealed fireworks complaints in New York City soared by 4,000 percent that month. 

From June 1 to June 19, the 311 hotline saw a massive spike in noise complaints, fielding a total of 6,385 calls over fireworks, compared to the 27 calls received in the same time in 2019, according to data obtained by Gothamist. 

And by mid-June last year, there were already more than 1,700 fireworks-related complaints through the first half of the month, including 455 in one night. That’s up from fewer than 25 during the same period in 2019, reported ABC7 at the time. 

The trend could be seen at cities across the country. Last year in San Francisco, complaints to police about fireworks nearly tripled. Police haven’t released the latest data regarding complaints. In Sioux City, Iowa, police recorded 142 complaints about fireworks from June 1 to June 28 this year and 238 in the same period last year. And in Cleveland, Ohio, where police received 690 complaints, residents spoke out about their frustration hearing fireworks late into the night about a week before July 4. 

‘We were fearful that they were going to burn down a house on our street or set our cars on fire. There were motorcycles and cars that were dodging fireworks as they were happening,’ Tracey Yurko told 19 News.

Last year, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio formed an 'illegal fireworks task force' to crack down on the sale of explosives across the city

Last year, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio formed an ‘illegal fireworks task force’ to crack down on the sale of explosives across the city

Nevertheless, people still took to the streets to set off their explosives late into the night

Nevertheless, people still took to the streets to set off their explosives late into the night

A display in upper Manhattan filled the air with smoke

A display in upper Manhattan filled the air with smoke

A man lit fireworks on the streets of upper Manhattan on July 4

A man lit fireworks on the streets of upper Manhattan on July 4

 On top of the illegal revelry, the city’s own display had sixty-five thousand shells on five barges sitting in New York’s East River for the city’s biggest ever display both in person and on television.

At least 50 pyrotechnicians had spent days loading the shells before the fuses were lit at 9.25pm as Americans marked their nation’s 245th birthday.

Tens of thousands of people gathered along the city’s East River in the boroughs of Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn in order to catch a glimpse of the impressive show.

As always, fireworks displays are the highlight of the July Fourth holiday. But the displays this year were seen as being extra special after the pandemic forced the cancellation of most of them in 2020.

At the display’s most spectacular moment, thousands of golden-hued shells created a dramatic cascade effect 1,000-feet in the air and more than a mile wide across the East River.

Lighting up the night’s sky not only delighted crowds but restored lifelines this year for the businesses that supply the 16,000 July Fourth fireworks displays across the country. 

Last year, only a few went on with the show but this year, crowds were welcome to gather. The exuberant displays left some complaining about excessive smoke hanging over the city in the early hours.


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