Illegal fireworks, raucous July 4 celebrations in Washington Heights leave streets littered with debris


WASHINGTON HEIGHTS, Manhattan — Washington Heights residents were busy cleaning up the streets Monday morning after a raucous Fourth of July night.

Massive amounts of fireworks debris and empty shell boxes littered the sidewalks around 175th Street and St. Nicholas Avenue.

Upper Manhattan resident Santiago Gonzalez told PIX11 News the area was unruly with illegal fireworks and rounds of apparent gunshots going off well into the early morning hours.

“It was crazy. I couldn’t sleep the whole night. They went up to 4 o’clock in the morning — fireworks, explosives, gunfire, everything,” he said. 

Illegal fireworks are not uncommon in Upper Manhattan in the warmer months, but 311 complaints skyrocketed in the area and across the city during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic last spring and summer.

From March 1 through July 4, 2020, Upper Manhattan neighborhoods made up four of the top five zip codes with the most 311 complaints for fireworks in New York City, according to city data. The top zip code was in Brooklyn.

And while the number of complaints in the area has waned this year compared to the same time period in 2020, Upper Manhattan still made up four of the five top zip codes with 311 complaints for illegal fireworks, according to city data.

In response to the skyrocketing complaints last year, Mayor Bill de Blasio launched a new multi-agency task force with the goal of disrupting the supply chain between suppliers, distributors and possessors of illegal fireworks.

Over the weekend, the NYPD announced the joint task force seized $54,000 worth of illegal fireworks in the weeks leading up to July 4.

However, Santiago Gonzalez said more needs to be done for Upper Manhattan residents.

“The people, loud music. It was the worst. Something has to be done,” he said.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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