Home Asides UESers blame rat infestation on Second Ave. Subway

UESers blame rat infestation on Second Ave. Subway

by Benjamin Kabak

When the MTA started work at Second Ave., I had figured the rat infestation articles would come. Yet, in the three years since the groundbreaking for Phase I of the current SAS projects, rats have been noticeably missing from the picture, until, that is, today. As part of their new New York City-focused metro coverage, the Wall Street Journal reports on an increase in the number of rats on the Upper East Side. “It looks like the street’s moving,” Walter Johnson, a 35-year UES resident, said to Andrew Grossman. “It’s just wild. You can’t imagine how infested this place became.”

Recently, UES residents have taken their complaints to the MTA, but the authority and its contractors say an abandoned building on Second Ave. and not the subway construction is the root of the rat problem. There are, says the MTA, no rat problems within the work zone, and the contractors have, according to Grossman, a ” rodent-control program in place that includes bait and traps within the construction zone.” Public health experts dispute the connection between construction and rats in the first place. “The public has the perception that if there’s construction, there’s going to be rats,” Bobby Corrigan, a city consultant, said. “There’s never any scientific evidence to show those two things are correlated.”

Still, even with the MTA implementing rodent-control measures and a likely cause of the infestation pinpointed, Upper East Siders prefer to blame the Second Ave. Subway for their quality-of-life problems. It’s become a familiar trope and one that is bound to last until the first Q train rolls up Second Ave., if not beyond. As Tara Reddi said, ignoring all evidence to the contrary, “We are, until 2018, in a living hell.”

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E. Aron April 26, 2010 - 4:02 pm

As a frequent frequenter of UES establishments, I’d say the rat population is exactly the same as it was before construction began. As far as the claim that it’s “wild,” I’d say the level of rat infestation is the same as any comparable city locale.

As for the “living hell” claim, the only thing that bugs me at this point is the sidewalk space. Unlike when construction first began up in the 90s and the sidewalks were shrunk in the 70s and 80s for what appeared to be no reason, they’re actually storing things on the street now, giving reason to the sidewalk disruption. I do wish that they’d taken up the sidewalk only as necessary, as the businesses along 2nd Ave. really depend on it once the weather gets nice, but I guess the complexities of construction don’t allow that level of attention.

I just don’t understand how life can be a “living hell” when Central Park is a 5 minute walk away, unless of course you live right on top of the launch box.

SEAN April 26, 2010 - 4:07 pm


Are you sure that those rats aren’t really New York Polititions in disguise? LOL

Kid Twist April 26, 2010 - 4:18 pm

Life in a Third World slum is a living hell. Life on the Upper East Side is most definitely not.

Todd April 26, 2010 - 4:29 pm

I blame the earthquakes.

Valerie April 26, 2010 - 4:56 pm

I just want to point out one missing fact in Andrew Grossman’s article. He reported that the MTA’s contractor said that an abandoned building was the root of the rat infestation problem, and not the subway construction. I think it is important to note that the abandoned building is only abandoned because it was condemned due to unstable foundation, coincidentally, at the same time the MTA was blasting right in front of it.

Redbird April 26, 2010 - 9:35 pm

You are incorrect. Prior to any construction, the building was already leaning over a foot due to the poor quality of the foundations. The MTA prevented the contractor from blasting in front of the building until it was stabilized.

Jerrold April 26, 2010 - 9:16 pm

Isn’t the way the landlords neglected those buildings for so many years the reason why they became unstable once the SAS work started?

Boris April 27, 2010 - 10:17 am

Yes. I bet that building was rent-stabilized.

petey April 27, 2010 - 11:11 am

evidence or stfu.

petey April 27, 2010 - 11:21 am

edit: i guess i could have taken the high road and pointed out that apartments, not buildings, are rent-regulated (mitchell-lama not being a form or regulation), but i seem to smell right through my computer screen an agenda coming from that post.

Al D April 27, 2010 - 9:03 am

Leave it Rupert Murdoch to start off this way…

Al D April 27, 2010 - 9:03 am

Sorry, leave it TO Rupert Murdoch to start off this way…

petey April 27, 2010 - 11:17 am

a high riser went up on 86th and 3rd last year, and i was visited for the first time in ages by waterbugs. construction is done and they’re gone. so it’s not unreasonable to think there’s a connection between earth blasting and earth-dwelling-vermin movement. but ‘a living hell’ is a preposterous comment, included no doubt for straw-man and/or zippy-article-conclusion purposes.

Aaron April 27, 2010 - 3:13 pm

I’m shocked, shocked, to learn that there are RATS in New York. Next thing, you’re going to tell me that it snows in Boston. How preposterous!

I’m rolling my eyes at this one. The UES as “living hell?” I had to double check that this didn’t have a “satire” tag.

Linda Reed June 15, 2010 - 6:08 pm

I witnessed 3 rats on 93rd last night at midnight when I returned home.

fsc December 3, 2010 - 9:29 pm

You should check out 94th street between 2nd and 1st. When I lived there for 6 years starting in 200, there were no problems of any kind and the neighborhood was really coming up. Now, there are rats, mice and ants in apartments and all along the street – that just is not a habitable block.

A Descent Into New York’s Remarkable Second Avenue Subway | Yolobzinga Art July 31, 2013 - 4:37 am

[…] Of course, the above-ground challenges are on top—literally—of a "million" other things. The geology of Second Avenue, like much of the island, is a mix of rock and soft ground, consisting of sands, silts, and clays over a rock known as Manhattan schist—a mix that isn't easy to build inside. There are faults and shear zones and fractured rock too. Engineers must also be careful to avoid hitting the myriad tunnels, utilities, pipes and cables that circulate above and below, and they must also plan around subway lines, Amtrak railway lines, and the Queens-Midtown Tunnel. Notably absent, however, at least on my visit: rats. The MTA says a rodent control program has been in place since construction began, but that didn't stop residents from blaming the agency for a recent rat infestation. […]


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