Photos

Popularity Contest of the Day: Urban Infrastructure, on Flickr

What do we photograph more, stop signs or streetlights?

Image
Paul Krueger/Flickr

We've all got our favorite pieces of urban infrastructure. Some people like manholes. Others enjoy streetlights. But what is the most favored city part of all?

We've come to a conclusion by comparing Flickr tag counts for a number of key city elements. Perhaps the research method places a premium on the photogenic, and it's also true that many of these elements appear in photos and are not tagged. (See above - manholes, street signs, traffic lights, bike lanes and stop signs all appear together; only one was tagged.) That's the cool thing about tags - we don't want to know the frequency of these elements in the city so much as how often they are noticed, prized, held up for praise and disdain. The method does not, however, rule out band names like "Streetlight Manifesto" and "The Manhole Boys."

Without further ado, in ascending order of Flickr popularity (full list at the bottom):

Bollards: 27,368

Photo credit:

                                                                   Flickr user Garry Knight.

Subway/Metro entrances:  28,370

Photo credit:

                                                                        Flickr user Rachel H.

Bike lanes: 58,321

Photo credit:

                                                                  Flickr user Paul Krueger.

Manholes: 59,443

Photo credit:

                                                                   Flickr user Rudolph Ammann.

Crosswalks: 69,680

Photo credit:

                                                                           Flickr user Hungarian Snow.

Streetlights: 133,523

Photo credit:

                                                                      Flickr user Zoetnet.

Stop signs: 148,276

Photo credit:

                                                                   Flickr user Shooting Brooklyn.

Traffic lights: 214,715

Photo credit: Flickr user Foto Footprints.

Bus stops: 257,209

Photo credit:

                                                                   Flickr user Rob Milsom.

Street signs: 508,513

Photo credit:

                                                                        Flickr user exfordy.

Full list: Bollards: 27,368

Subway/Metro entrances: 28,370

Bike lanes: 58,321

Manholes: 59,443

Crosswalks: 69,680

Streetlights: 133,523

Stop signs: 148,276

Traffic lights: 214,715

Bus stops: 257,209

Street signs: 508,513

Top image: Flickr user Paul Krueger.

About the Author

  • Henry Grabar is a freelance writer and a former fellow at CityLab. He lives in New York.