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. Transportation

    You Can’t Design Bike-Friendly Cities Without Considering Race and Class

    Bike equity is a powerful tool for reducing inequality. Too often, cycling infrastructure is tailored only to wealthy white cyclists.

  2. Transportation

    With Trains Like Schwebebahn, No Wonder Germans Love Public Transit

    Infrastructure like this makes it clear why Germany continues to produce enthusiasm for public transit, generation after generation.

  3. Amazon HQ2

    Without Amazon HQ2, What Happens to Housing in Queens?

    The arrival of the tech company’s new headquarters was set to shake up the borough’s real estate market, driving up rents and spurring displacement. Now what?

  4. Amazon HQ2

    New York’s Ejection of Amazon Is the Start of a Movement

    NYC lawmakers who led a resistance campaign against HQ2 are declaring victory. And already, they have plans to escalate their opposition to tax incentives.

  5. a photo of a used needle in a park in Lawrence, Massachusetts.
    Equity

    Why the Rural Opioid Crisis Is Different From the Urban One

    As deaths from heroin, fentanyl, and prescription opioids soar in the U.S., a new study looks at the geographic factors driving the drug overdose epidemic.