Ingrid Burrington

An artist analyzes the geography of New York Craigslist personal ads

Behold the Missed Connection:

Beautiful Blonde Western Pacific Bank today

“You were walking out as I was entering, not exactly the most conducive atmosphere for starting a conversation but I'm hoping you realized how interested I am in getting to know you.”

This too-late response is the quintessential Missed Connection, the popular Craigslist section that's intended to help people find the attractive strangers they’ve walked past or made distant eyes at or just saw on the bus. It’s the dating equivalent of a shot in the dark.

With upwards of a thousand posts a week in some cities, these missed connections amount to a lot of lonely people. They also amount to a lot of data. And because these people are trying to reconnect with people they physically saw in a specific place, they often include the geographical hints that might help in bringing them together – information like street names, store locations and transit stops.

New York-based artist Ingrid Burrington has been tracking and analyzing Missed Connections in New York for the past few years to tap into this rich data set. From thousands of posts, she’s been able to map a picture of loneliness in the city, identifying hotspots for missed connections. The Village Voice recently interviewed Burrington about her work, and where the most Missed Connections occur.

What's the loneliest place in New York City?

I would say it's Union Square. It's a major train interchange, and most Missed Connections happen on the subway. Also, it's a large public space, and second to subways, Missed Connections tend to happen on street. Whole Foods, also, is a really lonely place.

Burrington has also created a book project documenting Missed Connections, and has exhibited a map detailing types and locations of Missed Connections.

By identifying areas where Missed Connections commonly occur, we can get a more detailed picture of what happens in these places and why people seem to want to connect in them but can’t.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. A toxic site in Niagara Falls, New York, seen from above.
    Environment

    The Toxic 'Blank Spots' of Niagara Falls

    The region’s “chemical genies” of the early 20th century were heralded as reaching into the future to create a more abundant life for all. Instead, they deprived future generations of their health and well-being.

  2. MapLab

    Introducing MapLab

    A biweekly tour of the ever-expanding cartographic landscape.

  3. A Soviet map of London, labeled in Russian.
    Maps

    The Soviet Military Secretly Mapped the Entire World

    These intricate, curious maps were supposed to be destroyed. The ones that remain reveal a fascinating portrait of how the U.S.S.R. monitored the world.

  4. Equity

    The Story Behind the Housing Meme That Swept the Internet

    How a popular meme about neoliberal capitalism and fast-casual architecture owned itself.

  5. Design

    Is This Red, White, and Blue Elephant Worth Saving?

    Illinois politicians agree that Chicago’s Thompson Center should be replaced. Architects and preservationists beg to differ, and a new documentary presents their case.