It’s the Rats’ City, We’re Just Living in It

Photo: G. Scott Segler

You know how boomers like to talk about the good ole days in New York City when artists could afford to live in lower Manhattan, when people all over the metropolitan area did drugs all week, had a blast, contributed to a flourishing culture of debasement, tripped over rats, and kind of made it all work? Well, the days of tripping over rats are back.

The New York Times reported on Wednesday that rat sightings called in to NYC’s 311 hotline are up 38 percent from 2014, according to city data from, and they have plenty of anecdotal evidence to back up the claim that rats are absolutely taking over.

As with the extensive glue trap that is the MTA, the municipal government is aware of the rat issue and would like to fix it, perhaps in this lifetime. Deputy mayor of operations Laura Anglin told the Times, “No New Yorker likes having rats in their community and we are committed to continuing the work of controlling rats in all of our neighborhoods.” New York City Mayor and presidential candidate Bill de Blasio unveiled a $32 million plan to combat rats in 2017, calling for “more rat corpses.”

So, what’s behind the recent rat explosion? The Times reports there are several culprits, one being the construction boom that’s driving gentrification and simultaneously digging up rat burrows. Another is climate change, which offers rats a more temperate environment to breed in, free of those pesky ice-cold winters.

Other U.S. cities — like Philadelphia, Los Angeles, and Chicago — have also experienced augmented rat rates of late. In Washington, D.C., rat complaints have nearly tripled since 2014, as if by divine plague.

In conclusion, rats are living in our heads rent free, and we are living in their cities at exorbitant costs. Then they take our pizza.

It’s the Rats’ City, We’re Just Living in It