24 Aug

Map of the Week: Rats!

Created by Lewis Berger using QGIS.

There is a myriad of animals that are associated with New York City. Pigeons in Central Park, alligators in the sewers, tigers in Harlem, and rats in the subway tunnels. However, the rats seem to be becoming bolder and are venturing out into the rest of the city! Rats have long been seen above ground, near restaurants, and even in apartment buildings. To report a rat sighting, citizens are instructed to call 311 and report the problem and location. This 311 data is open source, so AGS took a look at the data to see where in the city there seems to be a rat problem.

A not-so-rare sighting of subway rats.

While the subways run almost everywhere, the rat problem appears to be centralized in Harlem and Bedford-Stuyvesant, in Manhattan and Brooklyn, respectively. These are the epicenters of the rat infestation, but they are by no means the limits of the rats’ spread. There is a high number of sightings in the East Village in Manhattan and Mott Haven in the Bronx. Rat sightings decrease as a function of distance from these areas; there are no firm borders of “rat territory” in the city.

However, things are not completely bleak for the rat-haters of New York City. While there are few areas in Manhattan that untouched by rats, there are other spots in the city that appear to be rat-free. Staten Island is virtually¬†untouched by rats, probably because it has are few connections to the rest of the city. Queens is also mostly devoid of rats, as is lower Brooklyn. It is unclear why these specific areas are so infested, but it hopefully won’t remain this way. New York mayor Bill de Blasio has announced a $32 million dollar plan to kill the city’s rats. While this won’t completely end the problem, it may be a good start to begin alleviating the issue.