A dead rat at rest in a Manhattan alley. Associated Press

MIT visualizes how the city is swarming with rodent-based complaints.

If there was ever a data visualization that could make the skin crawl, it's this one: a history of 311 calls that shows the sewer rat's complete dominance over New York.

Put together from city data by the folks at MIT's "You Are Here" project, the verminous viz contains 38,163 location-tagged rodent complaints from 2010 to the fall of 2013. The tiny white specks that swarm all over the map represent rat sightings, evidence of rats, or foul conditions suitable to rat life. They come in an average of 28 times a day. Of the five boroughs, Brooklyn takes top prize for infestation with 31 percent of the total volume of complaints, while Manhattan and Queens are the runners-up with 22 percent each.

The visualization's creators have included a helpful graph showing how screams of Eeeeek—rat! fluctuate over the seasons. In hotter weather, the number of complaints shoot up, which MIT says is also true for many other kinds of 311 issues. Here's more from the data team:

The rodent population as reflected in the complaint locations are very similar to the concentration of people in the city. Queens has significantly less rodent complaints when compared to the population, Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Staten Island have more. 

The zipcodes with the most complaints of rodents are largely in Brooklyn. 

And these are the five zipcodes where people are fretting the most about unwanted whiskers:

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. a photo of the Eiffel Tower with the words "Made for Sharing" projected on it
    Life

    How France Tries to Keep English Out of Public Life

    France has a long history of using official institutions to protect the French language from outside influence. Still, English keeps working its way in.

  2. Warren Logan
    Transportation

    A City Planner Makes a Case for Rethinking Public Consultation

    Warren Logan, a Bay Area transportation planner, has new ideas about how to truly engage diverse communities in city planning. Hint: It starts with listening.

  3. an illustration depicting a map of the Rio Grande river
    Maps

    Between Texas and Mexico, a Restless Border Defies the Map

    In El Paso, we call it the Rio Grande; our neighbors in Juárez know it as Río Bravo. It’s supposed to be a national border, but the river had its own ideas.

  4. An illustration of a turtle with a city on its shell
    Transportation

    Why Speed Kills Cities

    U.S. cities are dropping urban speed limits in an effort to boost safety and lower crash rates. But the benefits of less-rapid urban mobility don’t end there.  

  5. Archives

    Life in Apartheid-Era South Africa

    Gripping photos show what decades of segregation looked like in Nelson Mandela's home country.

×