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Mean Streets

New York City is full of peculiar phenomena—rickety fire escapes; 100-year-old subway tunnels; air conditioners propped perilously into window frames—that can strike fear into the heart of even the toughest city denizen. But should they? Every month, we'll be exploring—and debunking—these New York-specific fears, letting you know what you should actually worry about, and what anxieties you can simply let slip away.

How dangerous are New York City’s giant street puddles?

What, exactly, is lurking in puddles—and can it actually hurt you? A podiatrist weighs in.

Should New Yorkers be worried about rats coming up through drains?

Maybe—if you live on your building’s ground floor, anyway

How safe are New York’s ubiquitous fire escapes?

New Yorkers often treat these archaic means of egress as their own private balcony, but should they?

How worried should New Yorkers be about falling window A/C units?

Air-conditioning units balanced precariously on a windowsill are a common NYC sight—so how likely is it that one will fall and hit you in the head?

How safe are New York City’s window washers?

And what happens when the window washing industry becomes automated?

How vulnerable are elevated subway trains to derailment?

You might be one of many New York commuters who idly worry about MTA trains derailing—but do you need to be?

How worried should New Yorkers be about sewage ending up in waterways?

Combined sewer overflow is a real problem, dumping pollution into waterways—but how does it affect you?

What can be done to make narrow, crowded subway platforms less nerve-racking?

Waiting for a train at the Union Square subway station is an anxiety-producing event, but does it have to be this way?

Is it safe to walk over New York’s sidewalk cellar doors?

You likely won’t get injured passing over one—but if you don’t have to walk on them, don’t

How vulnerable are NYC’s underwater subway tunnels to flooding?

Approximately a dozen tunnels escort MTA passengers from one borough to the next underwater every day—but how safe are they?