Watch CBS News

A Timeline Of Trash Lives On In The Sanitation Department's East Harlem Warehouse

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Think of all the things you've thrown away over the years. Now, imagine someone went through it and took some items to put on display somewhere.

As CBS2's Alice Gainer explained, that's what one man has been doing for decades.

From the outside the building looks like a warehouse. It's owned by New York's Sanitation Department in East Harlem. On the second floor decades of trash come to life; from a Furbie graveyard to Pez dispensers and Troll dolls.

There are also typewriters, art, political memorabilia, and other odds and ends in the collection that has been Nelson Molina's passion project.

For him collecting items from the trash began at age 9.

"Two weeks before Christmas people would throw their old toys away. I used to go out looking in all the bags to see what I can take out for my brothers and sisters because I had two brothers and three sisters. We didn't get much for Christmas," Molina said.

It was fitting that Molina got a job with the New York City Sanitation Department and spent 34 years finding these treasures.

Initially he'd store things in his locker, and all over the building. That's when the second floor opened up.

"I always call him the curator. The unofficial curator," Assistant Department Chief, Keith Mellis said.

Mellis described his initial reaction as shock, and Molina said he's never surprised by what people throw out.

"The actual star of David is made from the steel from one of the World Trade Centers," he said.

Molina isn't quite sure what the value of all the items is.

"It's wort a lot of money. I know it is, but I just wouldn't know," he said.

Because one man's trash is Molina's treasure.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.