Upper West Side Leads New York City In 311 Hotline Rat Complaints

Monday, January 7th, 2013

New York News | NYC Breaking News

Well this certainly isn’t good PR for the neighborhood:

The Upper West Side leads all of New York City in 311 rodent complaints.

Friday’s NY Post ran an article about the findings under the headline UWS Is City’s Most Rat-Ridden Neighborhood, Data Shows, while Gothamist recently posted an interactive map of rodent complaints by zip code.

It’s note entirely clear what the time period for the data is — The Post reports “the last two years,” Gothamist writes “2010 – 2012,” and this UPI article simply says “2012.”

That detail aside, residents in the 10024 and 10025 zip codes made 1,183 rodent complaints to 311 during the time period in question.

Oddly, 10023 seems to be excluded from both the The Post and Gothamist’s definition of the Upper West Side. If you add that zip code (297 complaints), plus 10069 (the “new” luxury building along the Hudson in far West 60s — 7 complaints), you get a total of 1,487.

Brooklyn neighborhood Bushwick came in second with 965 complaints, which The Post notes is “roughly the same size geographically” as the UWS.

What The Post doesn’t bother to mention is that according to 2010 census data, there are 86% more people living on the Upper West Side than in Bushwick (209,084 vs. 112,634). The UWS population number may in fact be artificially low — I’m not sure it includes portions of the West 100s that I generally consider part of the neighborhood.

If you crunch the numbers, there were actually more complaints per capita in Bushwick than the Upper West Side — I would not be surprised to see similar results in other neighborhoods that are either smaller or have a lower population density than the UWS.

So while UWS Is City’s Most Rat-Ridden Neighborhood is a nice sensational headline, it’s more than a little misleading — the neighborhood’s sheer size and population has a lot to do with.

A more interesting comparison is that a comparably-sized swath of the Upper East Side only logged 849 complaints (vs. the UWS’s 1,487) — which seems statistically significant.

However, I can’t help but wonder if the fact that UES is bounded by the FDR, while the the UWS is flanked by Riverside Park, makes a difference in rodent populations.

Also, much of the difference between the UWS and UES total complaint numbers are due to the 10025 zip code (very roughly W. 91st to W. 110th — 710 complaints) vs. 10029 (roughly E. 97th to E. 116th — 227 complaints).

The two zip codes are almost mirror images of each other in terms of size and longitude (see Gothamist map), but they have radically different demographics — 10025 vs. 10029.

It could be that the older, whiter, and wealthier residents of 10025 are simply more inclined to call 311 and complain. I have no idea what the profile of a “typical” 311 caller is, so that’s just a theory.

All that said… there are a shitload of rats on the Upper West Side, at least in the parts of the West 70s and 80s that I normally frequent (I’d be remiss if I didn’t include an obligatory Fairway Ratgate link hereand here).

Whether the (apparently) growing rodent infestation in the neighborhood is something that can be addressed by the city or is simply one of the trade-offs of urban living is up for debate.

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  • Dione Drew

    I honestly think we’re just more inclined to call 311. I see so many more rats in lower Manhattan, and the people I know who live there (who skew younger) would never call 311.