Public Services

“Conservation is Everybody’s Business”

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On April 4, 2009, Mayor Michael Nutter hosted the 2nd Annual Philly Spring Cleanup. Around 10,000 volunteers worked together to collect 692,560 pounds of trash, complete projects at 12 recreation centers and 24 Fairmount Park sites, and plant 152 native trees and shrubs.

The Philly Spring Cleanup continues a tradition of local residents becoming personally involved in the maintenance and beautification of their neighborhoods and communities. In 1938, Sigrid Craig, an immigrant from Sweden, approached city officials about efforts to clean up streets around Philadelphia. Although her ideas initially were met with some hesitation, officials eventually helped her organize clean up efforts centered on individual city blocks. The city, with the help of Craig and many volunteers, developed a program where individuals were identified as Block Captains for a particular city block. The Block Captain became responsible for encouraging residents of the block to participate in maintenance and beautification efforts.

Encouraging participation at such a local, individual level proved very successful. Over the next several years, the program expanded and became known as the “Clean-Up, Paint-Up, Fix-Up” campaign. In 1953, the campaign began collaborating with a police sanitation unit and the Sanitation Division of the Philadelphia Department of Streets. This relationship between governmental departments and local residents was formalized in 1965 with the formation of the Philadelphia More Beautiful Committee. The Committee maintains a relationship with an estimated 6,500 Block Captains and runs various clean up and maintenance programs throughout the year, continuing the work begun by Sigrid Craig in 1938.


[1] Durso, Fred Jr. “Spick-and-Span.” South Philly Review. January 4, 2007.

[2] Philadelphia More Beautiful Committee.

[3] Rendell, Edward. “Philadelphia Partners with 6,500 Residential Blocks to Keep Neighborhoods Clean.” The United States Conference of Mayors.

[4] “Results of the 2009 Philly Spring Cleanup.” Philly Spring Cleanup.