While you can find all kinds of interesting jobs for creatives on Coroflot, earlier this month NYC's Department of Parks and Recreation topped us with a unique listing. The position pays $75,544 a year, "requires extraordinary physical effort" and spans the city's five boroughs. Job title: "Blacksmith's Helper."
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For those of us with "WTF" bubbles popping up above our heads, I looked into it and yep, New York City still employs their own blacksmiths. They operate out of a forge in a converted stable building on 86th Street on the west side of Central Park, fixing the city's fences, gates, lampposts, lifeguard chairs, you name it. They can make castings and re-use discarded city materials; an article in The Airship reveals that they once melted down an old aluminum swingset, created a casting of an iron finial, then poured the melted aluminum to create new finials for a Stuyvesant Park fence.
Former NYC blacksmith Larry Hagberg, now retired, explains how the math of employing blacksmiths works:
If [the parks department] goes on the outside to get a job done, and they send guys out that they hire, its going to cost twice as much. It works out cheaper because we have no equipment, we do it the old way. ... You need a new punch machine, its going to cost $30,000 to $40,000 — that's a half a year's pay. But you got some guy knows how to do it, you got $200 worth of coal, $50 worth of iron, you can do a $5,000 job.
This math has yielded some surprising results. For instance, the basketball rims on New York City's numerous outdoor courts are not off-the-shelf—the blacksmiths make 'em all:
Who knew that New York City essentially has "artisanal" basketball hoops?
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