Flickr

Week one: fancy Italian restaurant. Week two: dive bar.

Here’s something truly surprising: During the government shutdown, residents of Washington, DC, went to bars more but spent less money.

Which, like: Shocking, right?

The very imprecise data come by way of Foursquare, which analyzed check-in data from within the district from the month of October. (The shutdown began October 1, so the data perfectly align with the month.) The company found some broad trends: Many users, its data indicated, treated the shutdown like an unplanned vacation and went to “fancy bars and Italian restaurants.” In fact, the company says bar check-ins increased by 50 percent.

But as DC residents—and, if we can somewhat tenuously extrapolate, government employees—reached the end of the first week of the shutdown, their habits shifted. Their dwindling disposable income having been largely, er, disposed, they directed their dipsomaniacal needs to a different kind of dining experience: the dive.

Over time,” says the company in its post, “bars returned back to or below pre-shutdown levels, and more people were going to dive bars than usual.”

The service saw other types of check-ins fall by a quarter or a third, too: hotels, public transit, and (somewhat obviously) government offices. It didn’t, however, note a drop in gym attendance. 

Foursquare isn’t the only social media service to record a noticeable change in its data for the Washington region: Dating site Zoosk reports a huge jump in the use of its services. It’s fun to think these trends, representatives of a broad, population-wide change in habits, might be visible to technology companies (though invisible to us until the companies deign to reveal it). The data’s amusing, and, while only a tiddly bit more epistemologically valid than word-of-mouth anecdata (“yeah, I noticed more people at the dive, too!”), it might confirm some the suspicions we pick up from walking around the city.

It’s also fun to think about the number of dates—presumably, fresh from the gym—sitting together, at a badly lit bar, sipping a Natty Boh.

Top image: Mr. T in DC/Flickr

This post originally appeared on The Atlantic.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. a photo of Zurich, Switzerland
    Life

    Death to Livability!

    What does it really mean when certain kinds of cities keep getting ranked as the world’s “most livable”?

  2. A photo of Donald Trump in the Oval Office, with HUD Secretary Ben Carson.
    Equity

    Don’t Call Trump’s Housing Order a YIMBY Plan

    The president just signed an executive order calling for states and cities to pursue zoning reform. But affordable housing advocates aren’t celebrating.

  3. A rendering of Quayside, the waterfront development now being planned for Toronto.
    Solutions

    A Big Master Plan for Google's Growing Smart City

    Google sibling company Sidewalk Labs has revealed its master plan for the controversial Quayside waterfront development—and it’s a lot bigger.

  4. Four young adults exercise in a dark, neon-lit gym.
    Life

    Luxury Gyms Invite You to Work Out, Hang Out, Or Just Work

    With their invite-only policies and coworking spaces, high-end urban gyms aspire to be fitness studio, social club, and office rolled into one.

  5. Design

    Revisiting Pittsburgh’s Era of Big Plans

    A conversation with the trio of authors behind a new book about the Steel City’s mid-20th-century transformation.

×