311 reported rat sightings in NYC as of January 2013 (Screenshot of map via Gothamist)
If you ask a native New Yorker where to find rats in the City, they will probably answer, “everywhere.” Astute Untapped readers would single out the Greybar Building in Grand Central or union picket lines. Well, a new interactive map released by the NYC Dept. of Health and Mental Hygiene gets even more specific. The Rat Information Portal (RIP) was set up to archive rat inspection data. Findings from the Health Department’s inspections are searchable by address, or by borough, block and lot, displaying data from September 2009 until the present. Last year, Gothamist took a look at 311 reported rat sightings which yielded the above map.
Using information from past inspections, the Dept. of Health and Mental Hygiene shows the status of rats in NYC block by block, building by building. (Screenshot of map via NYC DOHM)
Enter your address to the map in the NYC DOHM site to see the results of past inspections at your location. The search brings you findings from the inspection whether or not they have since been rectified. A disclaimer on the DOHM site notes that the information on the site is forwarded to the proper city agency in the cases of parks, public housing, or schools for necessary follow-up. Additionally, numbers from a recent “Rat Indexing” initiative conducted in the Bronx and Manhattan, which involved “inspecting most properties even if no complaint has been received,” fill out practically every square mile of those two boroughs with even more information. Queens, Staten Island, and Brooklyn’s data points are considerably more sparse.
The City also uses 311 as a catch-all for reported rat sightings. The sheer number of 311 calls by zip code (as of January 2013) has been put together in this map by Gothamist. It shows some of the hot spots for rats include the Lower East River crossings, Williamsburg, and the Upper West Side of Manhattan. The colors of the map may be misleading as the above inset shows. Staten Island is not a wasteland where rats roam unreported, but rather the sheer density of population in some areas amount to not only more rats but more reported rat sightings, this results in neighborhoods with almost 400 reported rat sightings still showing up green compared to the areas with far more reports.
In our past coverage of rats in New York City, we covered Robert Sullivan’s book Rats: Observations on the History and Habitat of the City’s Most Unwanted Inhabitants. Sullivan marvels at the evolution of these household pests in large cities like NYC, calling them our “mirror species.” They live wherever humans live and “have conquered every continent that humans have conquered.” An interesting perspective on something many have come to find as a nuisance.