Entries tagged “NYC”

There’s an urban legend that there are as many rats as people in NYC. Jonathan Auerbach, a student at Columbia University, did some research and puts the number of rats at far fewer.

Mr. Auerbach, who was a fiscal analyst for the City Council and for the New York City Labor Market Information Service at the City University of New York before enrolling at Columbia, acknowledged in his paper that conducting a rat census posed significant challenges for a statistician. “Animals are terrible survey respondents,” he noted dryly.

He faced other methodological problems. He could not capture a large number of rats, mark them for identification purposes, release them, capture a second batch and count the number of marked rats in that batch. “Unfortunately,” he wrote, the health department “is unlikely to approve a large-scale rat-releasing experiment (I know, because I asked).”

The main flaw I see in his research is that not every sighting is reported.

November 8, 2014

Eater brings us a look at the NYC hot dog, both a history and a look at the unique varieties in NYC.

Sausages and bread are among the oldest forms of processed food. German immigrants to New York City served frankfurters and wieners with milk rolls and sauerkraut from pushcarts on the Bowery from at least the 1860s onwards. The recipes for these sausages dated back hundreds of years, with Frankfurt, Germany and Vienna, Austria vying for ownership of the “original” hot dog. But, just as with pizza, an old world food form was transformed and given greater significance in America. In 1871, German butcher Charles Feltman opened a hot dog stand in Coney Island, then an up-market destination for the affluent. It established Coney Island as ground zero for the hot dog.

Don’t read this until after you’ve eaten. Trust me.

August 19, 2014

Mona Chalabi at FiveThirtyEight takes a look at the items lost in New York’s transit system.

The MTA’s lost and found system is vast. It has to be — whether by bus, train or subway, millions of people travel on the network each day, and they leave a bunch of stuff behind. The MTA publishes its lost and found inventory (spotted by Tim Wallace), so we’re able to explore the items on its shelves. The data is updated hourly, so bear in mind that some of the stuffed animals mentioned in the chart below might be claimed, and some extra umbrellas might have been handed in. As of 3 p.m. Monday, there were 168,478 items in the system.

Who leaves behind an air conditioner? Twice.

July 31, 2014

The NY Post explains that sausage pizza isn’t very popular anymore.

“It’s fallen off over the past 10, 15 years,” says Pozzuoli. “Thirty years ago, I would order 30 to 40 pounds of sausage a week. Now, I order very little. Two or three pounds.”

When asked why he thinks the topping fell out of favor, even as its cousin, the pepperoni slice, remains popular, this old-school pizzaiolo can only shrug and guess.

“I wish I knew,” he says. “Sausage is more fat. Many people don’t eat fat [anymore].”

Arugula? That doesn’t even sound appetizing.

June 24, 2014

A team of anthropologists from Colombia University has identified 43 new species of weirdos in the NYC subway.

DePalio suggested that the reason some weirdo species had not been identified in the past was because they emerge only briefly to forage for food, money, or anonymous sex. For instance, the intoxicated transvestite, with its vibrant leopard-print coat and pink feather plumage, is said to only be observable for a short period after the clubs in Chelsea have closed, while the Thai grandmother in a sun visor selling pirated DVDs is visible for just seconds at a time.

The reason why The Onion is so good is because it is a smidgen away from the truth.

June 23, 2014


May 3, 2014 at 7:00pm • Comments Off on Construction


Time gives us several photos from Christopher Morris of the NYC subway from 1981.

The images that emerged from his months-long project show subway cars being tagged, and stations covered in dirt and grime, but we also see commuters going about their business — reading newspapers, listening to music — beneath advertisements for vacation deals and aspirin.

January 26, 2014

The NYC MTA MetroCard is 20 years old today.

Customers, who for decades had simply dropped a token into the slot on top of the turnstile, had to familiarize themselves with a new method of entry.  Using the MetroCard required riders to master the swipe.  Not too slow, not too fast and don’t lift too early.  Some likened it to delivering a punch to the gut.

After 20 years I still can’t swipe correctly when a train is in or entering the station. Works every time when there’s no train nearby. Typical.

Speaking of the NYC subway, here’s a slow-mo movie of the people standing on the platform while a train is entering the station.

January 9, 2014

Subway Book

November 27, 2013 at 5:00am • Comments Off on Subway Book

How do you think that book got on top of that electrical(?) box in between two subway tracks?

My first thought is that someone dropped their book onto the tracks while waiting for the train and gave up on it. Later, someone from the MTA was in the tracks cleaning something up or working on something, found it, and instead of throwing it out, picked it up to give away or read later. However, if that was the case, wouldn’t they place the book on the platform rather than on that rather inaccessible box?

My new theory is that a track worker was using that book, either as a log book or as a reference guide, placed it there while they needed two hands for something, and forgot it was there.

Update: The book has disappeared.

The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat has ruled that the big metal antenna-looking thing at the top of One World Trade Center is not an antenna but, in fact, a spire. The ruling makes the height of the building 1,776 feet, 325 feet taller than Chicago’s Willis Tower, which makes 1WTC the tallest building in the US.

The bragging rights to America’s tallest tower became clouded over a design decision last year to remove from an architectural shell for the mast, leaving behind steel beams and maintenance platforms that weren’t meant to be seen. At the time the building’s lead designer, David Childs, criticized the decision.

Glad that got settled.

November 12, 2013