When Casey and I met, I proposed we walk to all of the wastewater treatment plants in the five boroughs. She agreed for the novelty of it, but quickly became just as obsessed with it as I was. There aren’t that many, but they’re in out-of-the-way places that were surprisingly interesting.

That quickly turned into quests to:

  • walk through every neighborhood in the five boroughs (complete)
  • walk over every bridge in New York City that has pedestrian access (nearly finished)
  • visit every Carnegie Library in New York City (hard to tell, as there’s no comprehensive list)
  • ride every MTA line end-to-end (almost there)
  • ride every commuter rail line to the terminus (abandoned because it was kind of awful)
  • visit every major NYC park (in the works)
  • visit every WPA site in NYC (in progress)

We’re keeping track on our Trello board. Neither of us are new to obsessive behavior – Casey once drove cross-country eating only at Crackerbarrel and I once tried, and failed, to live off tacos exclusively until I’d eaten my literal weight in tacos.

We are in good company with our obsessions.

Axel is working on photographing all of New York City’s subway stations empty. Another friend is going even further — he’s working on taking a nude portrait of himself in each station.

Colin is half-joking about visiting every copy of Augustus Saint-Gaudens’s Deacon Samuel Chapin sculpture.

 

Surely we’ve all gotten a little overly passionate about a cataloging project. There must be someone out there who’s working on visiting all of Joseph Beuys’ 7000 Oaks right now. Or visiting every food cart. Or napping at every IKEA. Or finding every recorded address of their ancestors and seeing who lives there now.

Here are the obsessive catalogers of New York that I know of —

Every building in New York

James Gulliver Hancock

Every block in Manhattan

Joseph D. Terwilliger // Bruce Smith

Every block in all five boroughs

William Helmreich // Matt Green

Every street tree

Jill Hubley

Every bodega in Manhattan

Gail Victoria Braddock Quagliata

Every bodega cat

Bodega cats are a serious obsession for New Yorkers collectively.

Every dollar slice in Manhattan

Colin, the Slice Harvester

Now it’s every slice, even if it’s $3.

Every person in New York

Brandon Stanton

Every woman in New York

Homeless Joe

Every homeless person without shoes

Andre McDonnell

Every city-owned vacant lot

596 Acres

Every Starbucks in Manhattan

Mark Malkoff // John McCourt

Every subway station in Manhattan

James Doernberg & Kai Jordan

Every ocean-liner that docked in Manhattan

Der Scutt

Every privately owned public space (POPS)

Municipal Arts Society

I also made a map of NYC’s POPS while I was living abroad. We all deal with homesickness in our own way, eh?

And then there are the obsessive questions —

Could someone walk all of New York City (including inside of every building) in their lifetime?

Is it possible to try out every restaurant?

What happens if I smile at every New Yorker I come across?

And then there’s Ben Wellington with I Quant NY.

And then there are those of us with obsessions that can’t be contained by boroughs —

Watertowers

Bernd and Hilla Becher

Gas stations

Edward Ruscha

 

Who am I forgetting? Let me know in the comments.

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