The number of new Manhattan lease signings hit a record high since the Great Recession at 9,941 in May, per a report by appraiser Miller Samuel and brokerage Douglas Elliman. That’s four times what it was a year ago, and nearly 60% of these renters signed two-year leases.
As Bloomberg’s Oshriat Carmel wrote, New Yorkers are taking advantage of the city’s downtrodden rental market to plan their return, snagging concessions and discounts while they can at a long-term rate.
The pandemic saw the largest year-over-year declines on record for Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens, dropping 15.5% in Manhattan and 8.6% in the outer boroughs, per StreetEasy’s January Rental Report. The median asking rent in Manhattan was $2,750 – its lowest since March 2010, when rents dropped during the great recession.
“The pressures COVID placed on the marketplace created a unique opportunity to secure leases in prime locations and great buildings for significant discounts,” agent Ryan Kaplan, of Douglas Elliman, previously told Insider.
Many young professionals turned the plunging rents to their favor, upgrading to luxury apartments for $1,000-plus discounts that finally fit their budgets. Now, returning New Yorkers are catching on to the savings game.
Mansion Global previously reported the number of outward migrants from the NYC metro area ticked upward from 2019 to 2020 – a loss of 6.6 per 1,000 residents grew to 10.9 – but those who left for the suburbs were already returning.
“It’s preparation for a return to school, return to work, escape from your parents’ homes,” Jonathan Miller, president of Miller Samuel, told Bloomberg’s Carmel. “We’re undergoing a return back to normal life and this is part of it.”
As part of the return to normalcy, rent in the city has since begun to rebound. In April, it was no longer at the bottom of the market for the first time since the pandemic began, according to a follow-up StreetEasy report. But the same report says that the rebound will be slow.
As Nancy Wu, a StreetEasy economist, told Brandt, “Prices will continue to fall until the inventory settles a bit, more people come back to the city, more jobs are recreated from the loss of small businesses, and the city returns, somewhat, back to where it was before the pandemic started.”
In a city like New York, there’s no shortage of neighborhood bars. And while everyone has their favorite, for me, Bemelman’s Bar will always be emblematic of the quintessential New York City experience.
I recently spent a Friday night in late May at the iconic bar at The Carlyle, the Upper East Side hotel of choice for visiting celebrities and fashionable New Yorkers. Unlike most Friday nights over the past 14 months spent at home in my pajamas with my partner and two pugs, it’s now a post-COVID New York City, where donning my signature white tuxedo and going out for drinks and a little live music on the town felt novel and – dare I say? – normal.
As much a New York City icon as it is a cultural touchstone, Bemelmans and the adjoining Café Carlyle have hosted everyone from John F. Kennedy and Judy Collins to Frank Sinatra over the years. There’s no place quite like it anywhere on earth, and there’s certainly no place that feels as quintessentially New York.
Currently operating at a 50% capacity, this is the first-time Bemelmans has enforced a strict reservation-only policy.
“We’ve never had to enforce reservations like this in the past, and for now this is the simplest way to control the crowd,” Bemelmans’ new bar manager Dimitrios Michalopoulos told me that evening. “It’s been quite an adjustment, but this is the story for now.”
As a friend and I arrived at the Carlyle for our reservation, I noticed a lot has changed since my last visit in pre-pandemic times.
Before you can even enter Bemelmans, or the adjoining Topkapi Palace inspired tea room called The Gallery, you are greeted in The Carlyle’s foyer by a team of what looks like secret service agents in tuxedos, all of whom are equipped with earpieces to communicate with one another.
At check-in here, one member for each reservation is required to fill out a digital contact tracing form on an iPad. Once you make it past the check-in process, you’re led to your table.
Each reservation at Bemelmans has a 90-minute time limit, and there’s also a $15 per-person cover charge that’s applied to your bar tab. At present, masks are mandated when you go to and from your table; however, once inside, we quickly notice that the policy is loosely enforced.
“Our aim is to lead by example here,” Michalopoulos said, pointing out that all Bemelmans associates were wearing masks despite being vaccinated. “Our priority is to our guests and that means we’ll keep our masks on for now.”
All of the staff was masked up the entire time I was there, from the check in agents at the front to the servers and people behind the bar. Another big change I noticed is that people are no longer allowed to sit at the bar.
When we arrived at our table, we found a barcode menu waiting for us.
These barcodes seem ubiquitous now, however it felt jarring to see one in an environment as classical as Bemelmans.
With the help of Michalopoulos, the bar now features an entirely new menu that includes a signature cocktail list that pays homage to the guests, artists, and musicians who helped put this charming neighborhood bar on the map.
According to Michalopoulos, Bemelmans is largely known for its gin drinks and martinis. But one standout cocktail I tried was the JFK Daiquiri, a rum based drink inspired by one of the president’s favorite cocktails.
Bemelmans has a large selection of signature martinis, cocktails, mocktails, beers, and wine.
“Our clientele has been coming here for our martini’s for almost 75 years,” Michalopoulos said.
Michalopoulos said he spent the better part of a month researching the history and stories for each and every person the cocktails on Bemelmans Specialty Cocktail list are named after.
Another standout drink was The Gillespie, which is made with Hudson Manhattan Rye, lime juice, rosemary ginger syrup, ginger beer, and egg white. It was named for a long time musician and entertainer at Bemelmans Bar, Chris Gillespie, who loved ginger, Michalopoulos told me.
“It was a lot of fun to honor the legacy of the people who used to come here and made this place so special,” Michalopoulos told me. “Their legacy lives on, and I know Bemelmans’ legacy will continue to live on long after, too.”
The iconic piano serves as a major focal point of the bar’s decor.
As I glanced around the room, and the sounds of people talking and live music on the piano played throughout our visit, I almost forgot what it was like in the before times at 100% occupancy.
Things have changed since my last visit to Bemelmans, but the magic that can be found in a night out here will always stay the same.
Narrator: In 2016, Toronto spent $31 million to fend off a raccoon invasion. The masked critters were everywhere, pooping on porches, stopping traffic, and infesting attics, and they’re not just taking over Toronto. Reports of raccoon vandalism have plagued cities like Portland, Chicago, and New York City, and as raccoon-ridden cities know, we can’t seem to stop them.
Between the 1930s and 1980s, the US raccoon population increased twentyfold, and it’s still going strong. From 2014 to 2015, raccoon complaints in Brooklyn nearly doubled, so how are these masked bandits making it in big cities?
Well, for starters, they can digest just about anything from fish and acorns in the forest to dog food and pizza on the street, and just like humans, raccoons usually prefer the pizza, which is why they flock from woodland to city in the first place.
In Brooklyn, for example, captured raccoons sometimes get relocated to Prospect Park and nearby forests, but wildlife biologists report they often head right back to the dumpster-packed city streets.
It’s just about impossible to stop them, as Toronto discovered after it spend millions on raccoon-proof waste bins. Unlike traditional bins, the lids had special gravity locks, which open when a garbage truck arm turns the bin upside down. The idea was that if you cut off their major food source, they would skip town, but that didn’t happen. In fact, one year later, a wildlife-control business reported that raccoon-related work had doubled.
Finally, a clever raccoon was caught on camera jailbreaking the new bin. How did she outwit an entire city? Well, study after study has revealed that raccoons are considerably smarter than your average medium-sized critter. Turns out raccoon brains have more neurons packed into their brains than other animals of the same size.
In fact, they have the same neuron density as primates, who are notoriously smart, and their clever brains help explain why raccoons can open complex locks, solve puzzles with ease, and even come up with solutions to problems that scientists didn’t think of. Add to that their ultrasensitive hands, er, paws, which have four times as many sensory receptors as their feet. This helps them to feel subtle textures like special trashcan lids in Toronto and even open locks without looking.
And unfortunately for us, driving them away is a fool’s errand. Studies show that after mass removal, populations tend to rebound to their previous levels in a year. After all, females can start giving birth at just 1 year old and can have as many as eight kits in a single year. This quick breeding is also why experts say mass cullings aren’t a long-term solution.
And while they’re awfully cute, the damage they can cause is not. When raccoons nest in buildings, they can destroy insulation, chew up wires, and tear holes through walls, and it can cost you hundreds or even thousands of dollars to repair that kind of damage. One raccoon was even caught destroying over $3,000 worth of artwork, and just removing them can cost $300 to $500 a pop.
Plus, the poop they leave behind can contain roundworms and other parasites, which can enter your lungs when you breathe or get tracked into your home by your pets. Even worse, raccoons can transmit diseases like canine distemper and, in rare cases, rabies.
So it’s understandable that cities are trying to find some way, any way, to manage them.
Man on broadcast: Can’t do a thing about it, just chase them off. They come back.
Narrator: If nothing else, it’s a lesson learned. We may have built the cities, but we don’t necessarily rule them.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This video was originally published in May 2019.
Wormtail. Professor Ratigan. The R.O.U.S. Pop culture has given rats a bad rep. And it’s understandable why.
Take northeastern India’s rat flood. Twice a century, rats swarm when bamboo forests drop about 80 tons of seeds. After they devour the seeds, they devastate local agriculture. In the 1960s, the resulting famine was so bad, it lead to a major political uprising.
It’s no wonder that the technical term for a group of rats is a “mischief”! And they’re not just a problem for farmers. These crafty rodents are the ultimate urbanites.
Meet your average city rats: Rattus rattus and Rattus norvegicus. These rats live pretty much wherever we do. Especially in cities. Take New York City, for example. We don’t know exactly how many rats call the Big Apple home. But a 2014 study gave a ballpark estimate of 2 million rats.
That means for heavily-infested areas you could have several rats per person! And in some ways, rats are better suited for living in cities than people. They can climb brick walls, “tightrope walk” over telephone cables, and their incisors grow 14 inches a year. Which lets them gnaw into anything – including everywhere you don’t want them.
But their most powerful ability? Rats are clever. Too clever. Scientists have shown that rats can learn to use tools. And when offered the choice between a chocolate and freeing a trapped friend. Rats chose to free their friend over chocolate!
Translate those smarts to the real world and rats easily avoid traps. Trying to poison them won’t help much either. Rats are extremely patient when it comes to new foods. They’ll taste just a tiny portion at first, wait to see if that food makes them sick and only then, consume the rest if it’s safe.
This is called “delayed learning” and it’s why rats are notoriously difficult to poison. Plus, they can develop resistance to many poisons over time so even outwitting them might not work in the long run.
Another major issue is that rats reproduce quickly. A single doe usually has 8-12 pups every 8 weeks! And those babies can have pups of their own after only 5 weeks!
So as long as they have access to food, rat populations will rebound from just about any attack. The only attack they can’t handle is improved sanitation.
And cities are using that to their advantage. In 2017, for example, New York City launched a $32 million war plan against its rats. Eliminate 70% of the rats in its 10 most-infested neighborhoods.
The plan is simple. Cut off their food source.
You see, NYC produces around 33 million tons of trash a year – more than any other city on Earth! The trash piles aren’t getting any smaller but the city can at least make it harder for rats to reach by replacing traditional trash compactors with a mailbox style opening.
Will NYC succeed by the end of 2018, as proposed?
Judging by the thousands of years where rats came out on top, it sounds a little too optimistic.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This video was originally published in July 2018.
Leaders at Sunnyside Community Services, a non-profit center that serves neighborhoods in Queens, New York City, are well aware of the devastating toll COVID-19 has had on their community.
The coronavirus disease had killed more Queens residents than any other borough as of March 2020, when New York City became an epicenter of the pandemic. Queens has the second-highest death rate from COVID-19 among the five boroughs, according to the most recent city data.
In the area of Queens that encompasses Jackson Heights, Elmhurst, and Woodside, 1 in 12 people have had COVID-19 and 1 in 137 have died, according to The New York Times.
At a one-day pop-up vaccine clinic in New York City’s Sunnyside Community Services, workers said community members coming in to get a shot gave them hope about the COVID-19 pandemic’s end, but they will still work hard to ensure no vulnerable member gets left behind.
Jackie Lopez, who leads the COVID Free Queens Coalition at Sunnyside Community Services, told Insider though she feels hopeful about entering a new post-COVID era, she urged federal and state agencies to keep in mind how vulnerable communities have low vaccination rates.
Lopez said she’s heard community members say they can’t get a vaccine because they can’t take days off work if they have side effects. Black and Latino adults have a lower rate of vaccination than the average, according to the University of Minnesota. A volunteer team with the Association of American Medical Colleges said low-income neighborhoods have less access to vaccines, and these residents struggle with navigating the online sign-up processes.
“Our Black and brown communities, our immigrant communities were hit the hardest by the pandemic and we still have work to do to provide accessibility and continue to provide information,” Lopez said.
Inside a pop-up vaccine clinic in one of the hardest hit areas of COVID-19
On May 27, VIP StarNetwork, an on-demand health services company primarily for entertainment industry workers, hosted a one-day pop-up vaccine clinic at Sunnyside Community Services for one day. The May 27 pop-up vaccine site was Sunnyside Community Services’ first, and the organization has scheduled second-dose appointments for June 17.
Johonniuss Chemweno, the CEO of VIP StarNetwork, said the group has been working with the state government to bring pop-up clinics to diverse and low-income communities. VIP StarNetwork, which had been approved as a mass vaccination provider by a federal agency in February, had previously enforced COVID-19 safety protocols for Netflix and Amazon studios.
The pop-up vaccine clinic had a team of more than a dozen nurses ready to help walk-in visitors get a vaccine. The site allowed all adults and people aged 12 to 18 to get a Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
Chemweno told Insider he’s seen an uptick in people under 18 coming into pop-up vaccine sites. The US began inoculating teenagers with the Pfizer vaccine in May.
Recipients were allowed to choose which vaccine they got depending on availability, Chemweno said.
Nada Elrakaivy, a COVID Free Queens Coalition outreach specialist, told Insider many community members have been hesitant about receiving a Johnson & Johnson vaccine after the CDC reported a rare blood clot had been linked to six vaccine recipients. The welcome sign outside the vaccine clinic noted noted that the site had Pfizer vaccines, and two community members asked specifically for the Pfizer vaccine when entering the pop-up site.
Community members entered Sunnyside Community Services and checked-in with Valentina Valencia, an emergency medical technician, and Sofia Mejia, a registered nurse. The two said they had enjoyed “giving back to the community that needs it” through working at with Sunnyside Community services.
After checking in, a nurse administered the vaccine to community members, and recipients had to wait about 15 minutes for observation before leaving.
Elrakaivysaid her group has been giving out free masks to Queens residents on the streets, and providing them with information on how to get a COVID-19 test and vaccine. The COVID Free Queens Coalition took down the names of food vendors, who Elrakaivy said are high-risk due to interacting with many different people daily, and made vaccine appointments for those who were interested.
The team always has a Spanish-speaking person with them to communicate with the area’s Latino community.
“For the most part, every time we ask someone if they got the vaccine, they responded with a yes,” Elrakaivy said. “So Queens is doing pretty well. Better than we expected.”
How Sunnyside Community Services workers are dealing with vaccine hesitancy
Jonah Gensler, the associate executive director of Community Services, told Insider he had been engaging with the community throughout the pandemic.
Prior to the pandemic, Sunnyside Community Services held services for senior citizens, English classes for immigrant residents, and other programs for vulnerable people across Queens. Gensler said the non-profit reached with homebound seniors using their phone numbers gathered at previous Sunnyside Community Services events.
The group set up a food pantry when the pandemic hit to help struggling community members. Community Services has also hosted online town halls to get the word out about COVID-19 safety, Gensler said.
Gensler said a roadblock to getting community members vaccinated has been the hesitancy around getting a vaccine and distrust in the government, especially after wealthier areas got better access to vaccines than communities that had suffered during the height of the pandemic.
“We have heard that some community members say, ‘You know, at the height of this pandemic, when the communities in Elmhurst and Corona and Jackson Heights were suffering the most, we didn’t get all the support we needed,'” Gensler said. “And that does lead to hesitancy.”
But Lopez, the lead organizer of COVID Free Queens Coalition, said Sunnyside Community Services is uniquely positioned to increase interest in vaccines due to its active members.
She said when one community member said they were hesitant about the vaccine at a recent town hall, other community members chimed in to explain why they got the shot. One person took the vaccine to make sure a senior citizen they care for is safe, Lopez said, and one mother said they want to make sure their child is cared for.
“For us, the biggest goal is kind of bringing up those voices and those stories of why people decided to take the vaccine so that other people who are so a little bit more hesitant will be able to make those connections as well,” Lopez said.
I knew New York City was back when I found myself dancing on top of a booth in an East Village bar last weekend.
The night began with dinner out and ended with another bargoer’s drink on my shoe, eating pizza on the street, and an invitation from a six-pack-wielding stranger for my friends and I to drink beer and play “Mario Kart” at his apartment.
That is all to say: It was a normal Saturday night in NYC, one event in a weekend that felt very much like the Before Times. I also worked in the Insider office for the first time that Friday and hit the gym on Sunday.
Pfizer made all these adventures possible, and it seems that the vaccines are having the same effect on New Yorkers across the city.
For the past month, I’ve noticed the magical – and exhausting – things that make New York New York coming to life again: a stalled 1 train, a crowded 6 train, getting turned down by a full cab, tourists getting in my way of shopping on Fifth Avenue, trying four newly opened restaurants, the throngs of sunbathers and picnickers in Central Park, and the familiar murmurs of gossip and chatter over wine glasses on a rooftop. It’s not just a feeling: New York City’s economy is genuinely healing.
It’s also a far cry from a year ago, when New York became the center of the coronavirus in the US and everything that once lit up New York – the distant squares of office windows, taxi-cab lights, and Times Square – dimmed.
Even today, traces of pandemic NYC remain. My Saturday bar closed at midnight, and it took about four attempts to grab a late-night bite to eat at a restaurant not closing by 11 p.m. on Friday night, an insult in the city that never sleeps.
But the return of New Yorkers, lockdown lifting, and a financial boost have revived the city’s energy. NYC as we once knew it is gone, but the big city is back.
The data agrees with Bella’s diagnosis. The supposed mass exodus out of the city wasn’t so massive, according to recent data from USPS. According to Bloomberg, more Manhattanites moved to Brooklyn than anywhere else between March 2020 and February – 20,000 of them, compared with 19,000 Manhattanites who moved to Florida, 10,000 of whom plan to stay permanently. They’ll probably be back.
NYC also remains home to 7,743 ultra-high-net-worth individuals – more than any other city in the world, according to a Knight Frank and Douglas Elliman report from March. Mansion Global said the number of outward migrants from the NYC metro area ticked upward from 2019 to 2020 – a loss of 6.6 per 1,000 residents grew to 10.9 – but those who left for the suburbs were already returning.
“Whoever wrote off New York was wrong,” Kenneth Horn, the founder of Alchemy Properties, told Mansion Global. “This, of course, has been horrible. We’ve lived through a lot different, right. But people want to live in New York. People love the vibrancy.”
Late-night bars and subways
NYC hasn’t even reached its peak return of residents, but it already feels alive. A recent Bank of America Research note, from a team led by Head of US Economics Michelle Meyer, said this month would spark a dominolike return to the city, ultimately proving the mass exodus narrative was more myth than reality.
By the end of May, restrictions lifted include: most industry capacity limits, the limit on residential outdoor gatherings, the mask mandate for vaccinated people, and the midnight outdoor- and indoor-dining-area curfew for bars and restaurants.
As Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York wrote in a Tweet announcing some of these reopenings earlier this month, “NY is coming back!”
Now, while the state of New York officially reopened in May, Mayor Bill de Blasio has announced that he’s eyeing a full reopening for the city on July 1 and plans to eliminate remote learning come fall. But the Legislature unwinding many of the lifts has made it feel like city is already back in action.
“I haven’t had hope for any return to actual normalcy until now, seeing people both indoor and outdoors without masks, and it’s really starting to hit me that this wasn’t actually going to be forever,” Kelsey Peter, a 27-year-old nonprofit worker who stayed in NYC when the pandemic hit, told Insider.
Cash is flowing
The boomerang migration, uptick in real estate, and economic reopening are all helping cash flow again in a city made of money.
Card spending was up by 38% in the NYC metro area compared with the previous year and 17% compared with two years ago for the week ending May 22, according to BofA Research.
Spending on brick-and-mortar retail in NYC by local households hovered around 70% by the end of 2020, as compared to a 74% pre-pandemic trend, indicating a minimal drop from outmigration, BofA also found, while in-person spending on restaurants has improved. As of mid-April, it was still down 30% compared with two years ago but a major improvement from the 70% drop at the end of January.
NYC’s finances are also in better shape than expected. While the state’s tax revenue collected over the past fiscal year was $513.3 million lower than the previous year, the state was fearing a $3 billion bigger drop, New York Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli told Bloomberg, and a large chunk of that came from the city.
And President Joe Biden’s stimulus package included $5.6 billion for NYC, which Insider’s Juliana Kaplan reported likely saved catastrophic cuts to the city budget. This sentiment was largely confirmed at a City Council hearing in March, when Department of Finance Commissioner Sherif Soliman said this federal aid had given the city a “shot in the arm” financially and his office was optimistic for a “full recovery.”
At the end of April, de Blasio announced a $98.6 billion budget, $10 billion higher than previously planned, to help jump-start the city’s recovery. “These investments are about bringing the city back, and they just can’t wait,” he said in a press briefing, according to the New York Daily News. “Sometimes you have to spend money to make money.”
But NYC is also set to get another injection of money beginning next year, now that Cuomo has finalized a budget that would have millionaire New Yorkers pay 13.5% to 14.8% in local and state taxes – the highest taxes in the country.
NYC’s next chapter
To say NYC 2021 resembles NYC 2019 would be inaccurate. Several aspects of the city still aren’t quite “normal.”
The contagious coronavirus variant spreading throughout India and other parts of Asia may also bring with it a risk of some form of lockdown returning later this year. On Thursday, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that the country’s full reopening could be delayed because of the variant, despite a successful vaccination campaign similar to America’s.
And while NYC is never going to return to its 2019 economy, just as America itself won’t, that doesn’t mean that the city has lost its luster. Much like it did after the Great Depression and 9/11, NYC is entering the next chapter of its life – and that’s starting now, in line with the race for a new mayor come November.
BofA noted potential for some recovery in the near term, as NYC remains a “premier city for young renters given status as economic, financial, and cultural centers.” The pullback in rents, it said, has also helped make NYC living more affordable and enticing for young professionals.
As the city was once America’s coronavirus center, NYC’s reopening serves as a metaphor for the country’s pandemic progress. It’s also revived the city’s intangible energy.
For some, this part of NYC never died. Even when the city felt empty, Peter said, there were so many people looking out for each other.
“You would get used to seeing the same vendor’s face at the wine store or at the coffee shop when you’re getting to-go,” she added. “That was all during the worst of it, and things only got better from there. It was always a community.”
As someone who also rode out the pandemic out in Manhattan, I agree with Peter. My local bodega owner, the friendly parking-garage attendant on my street, and a fellow parkgoer and his five poodles became the faces I’d typically see during my pandemic routine. With endless options to experience the city again, I’m back to encountering strangers and forgotten faces on the regular, from my waiter at Lil’ Frankie’s to my hairstylist and colorist, so much so that it’s getting somewhat exhausting.
When Fumudoh reacted to Yang’s answer with incredulity, he tried to defend his choice, saying: “It’s my stop, so Times Square. It’s big, it’s cavernous, there are entertainers there. Sure, what’s not to like?”
In the same interview, Yang also struggled to answer Fumudoh’s question on what his favorite Jay-Z track was – despite claiming to be a long-time Jay-Z fan. Instead of naming widely-acclaimed solo songs, Yang named a 2004 Linkin Park collaboration,”Numb/Encore,” and Kanye West duet “N—-s In Paris” his top songs from the singer.
The New York Daily News reported on May 12 that Yang is currently a frontrunner for the mayoral seat. He was ranked as voters’ first choice for mayor, with 21% support from the 1,003 people polled by Schoen Cooperman Research.
Narrator: 32 stories above the streets of New York City, a cat fell from a window and lived. After vets treated the cat’s chipped tooth and collapsed lungs, the feline was sent home two days later.
Cats fall a lot, and they’ve gotten really good at it. Drop a cat upside down, for example, and it will almost always land on its feet. That’s because cats are extremely flexible. They can twist their bodies mid-air as they fall.
But landing feet first isn’t always the best strategy. Like if you’re falling from 32 stories up. To figure out how cats manage that perfect landing every time, a series of studies looked at over a 100 cats’ falls from two to 32 stories up.
Comes as no surprise that cats who fell from the second floor had fewer injuries than cats who fell from the sixth floor. But here is the fascinating part. Above the seventh story, the extent of the injuries largely stayed the same, no matter how high the cats fell. So, how is that possible?
Well, it all comes down to acrobatics or lack thereof. Cats that fell from two to seven stories up mostly landed feet first. Above that, however, cats used a different technique. Instead of positioning their legs straight down as they fell, they splayed out like a parachuter. And landed belly-first instead.
But this method isn’t 100% foolproof. Chest trauma, like a collapsed lung, or broken rib is more common with this landing method. But the risk of breaking a leg is much less. So, how do cats somehow subconsciously know how to land?
It has to do with a physics phenomenon called terminal velocity. At first, the cat plummets faster and faster under gravity until she’s fallen the equivalent of five stories. At that point, she hits constant terminal velocity at 100 kilometers per hour. She’s now in free fall where air friction counteracts her acceleration under gravity. At this point, she’s no longer accelerating and, more importantly, doesn’t feel the pull from gravity.
So, here’s what researchers think is happening. From two to seven stories up, cats don’t have enough time to reach terminal velocity and prep for landing feet first. But once they hit terminal velocity, their instinct changes and they parachute their limbs.
All that said, don’t throw your cat out of a window. I can’t believe I have to say this. Not only is it still very dangerous, it’s not very polite. Don’t throw your cat out the window just to see all that go down. Just watch this video again. Just hit the little replay button.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This video was originally published in October 2018.
Like millions of New Yorkers who justify their sky-high rents with the opportunity to live out their dreams, I thought NYC was the most incredible place in the world. After seven years in the city, I was thriving with strong friendships, a great job, a beautiful apartment in Williamsburg, and a packed schedule full of activism, exciting nights around town, and taking care of my dog.
At 28 years old, being a New Yorker felt like a huge part of my identity, and even during the pandemic, I had a difficult time imagining ever leaving.
But when I stumbled on my dream house in rural southern Vermont, I started imagining the crazy alternative of a life elsewhere. Could anything compare to the buzzing energy of NYC? Though I had always dreamed of owning my own home, I was deeply anxious about the thought of leaving behind my friends, the political causes and networks I had dedicated so much energy to, and the infinite opportunities of the city. NYC was stimulating, challenging, and full of interesting people.
But believe it or not, so is my new life in Dummerston, Vermont.
Here’s what it’s like to move from the big city to a tiny, rural hamlet – the main things I was worried about, and how they turned out.
Making the leap to Dummerston
I traded in the “rustic chic” aesthetic ubiquitous across Williamsburg (farmhouse decor, hipster lumberjacks) for the real thing. The town I live in now is called Dummerston, a small community of 1,800 filled with dense woods and open farmland.
Unfortunately, the Vermont version of “rustic chic” means “needs work,” but my fiancé and I were looking forward to the challenges of getting our property up and running and testing out our handyman skills. It was whether I could make friends and find my purpose in this small town that really had me wondering.
Ten minutes down the road from our house is the main town of Brattleboro, home to a whopping 12,000 people. Despite my initial anxieties, I’ve been impressed by how much there is to do when strolling through the town on a weekend.
The main strip of the historic downtown area overlooks the Connecticut River and is filled with coffee shops, eclectic restaurants, breweries, and thrift stores that even rival those in Brooklyn (except in price.)
While the restaurant scene in Brattleboro and the surrounding area is impressive given the small size of the town, I do miss NYC’s unmatched offerings for takeout and access to literally any cuisine at any time of day. Takeout or a dinner in town has become more of a special occasion than a casual afterthought like it was in the city, especially since most places here close by 9 p.m.
However, now that I have my own house and lots of kitchen space, I’m cooking much more from my pantry stocked with bulk staples, produce sourced from local farms up the road, and lots of maple syrup.
Friends from NYC or family from my hometown in Connecticut come to visit often, and we love having the space to cook and host. Grocery stores in Vermont aren’t actually that much cheaper than in New York, but I’m saving around $250 a month by cooking nearly every meal from home.
With all the cooking comes a lot of composting, something that is mandated by the state of Vermont. While there are options for compost and trash disposal, like burying food waste in our yard or hiring a trash service to come by weekly, we’ve landed on making regular trips to the local dump to save money.
This has been one of the most challenging errands to adapt to, given the labor intensity of sorting by plastic type and garbage category, and that the dump is only open until the afternoon on weekdays and Saturdays. More than once, I’ve lost track of time and had to hang on to bags of food waste and recycling until the next weekend or rush during my lunch break between work meetings.
Building up a social life was easier than expected
It took me years of living in NYC to build up a circle of friends. New Yorkers are infamously flaky and hard to schedule with, given their packed schedules and competing options. With all the work I had put into my relationships, I was dreading starting from scratch in Dummerston. Yet it’s been shockingly easy, even in a pandemic.
The slower pace of life makes it easier to catch someone with a free afternoon, and my fiancé and I chat with our passing neighbors or host new friends regularly. We’ve also relied heavily on Facebook, joining the Brattleboro Facebook group and participating in a “Dog Park Pals” group to seek playdates for our dog (and ourselves).
Now, neighbors stop by with a carton of eggs or some homemade maple syrup just to say hi, have a playdate with our dogs, or just to check in on how the New Yorkers are managing.
Trading rent for a mortgage
Of all the things to worry about, the finances of the move were actually quite attractive. In Williamsburg, I paid $1,400 a month for half of an 800 square foot two-bedroom apartment. In Dummerston, my fiancé and I split basically the same cost for a mortgage on an eight-acre property with a house, barn, and a massive shed. Plus, there are heavy tax incentives to leaving NYC and buying a home.
That said, home ownership has not come cheap. Without the buffer of a landlord or property manager, we’re on the hook for every maintenance and utility expense. A bitter winter forced us to spend over $1,000 on propane to heat the house, and nearly the same on unexpected plumbing and electrical issues. More space also means more spending on furniture and decorations, and Facebook marketplace is in low supply out here compared with NYC – another thing I miss dearly.
Overall, in the next five to 10 years, we’ve estimated spending $30,000 or more on home improvement on top of our mortgage. It sounds like a lot, but in New York I was paying $17,000 a year in rent without even getting a fixed-up house to show for it.
The politics in rural America aren’t exactly what you think
In NYC, I was very politically active and my values were a key factor in deciding where I could live in the future. Though it’s a rural state, Vermont is incredibly liberal and its residents young and old are highly engaged. Yet politics here are hyper-local and more practical than ideological, a change from NYC that I’ve come to appreciate.
While I’ve only been here a few months, I’ve already gotten involved in some work on transitioning the town to renewable energy and improving safe police practices.
I was sad to give up the excitement of the big city and the sense that anything could happen at any time. Yet Vermont is stimulating in its own ways. I’ve been skiing and hiking more than ever before. I’m regularly chasing porcupines and other wildlife away from my dog, and driving down our dirt road often feels like an off-roading adventure.
I’ve also come to realize that peace and quiet is not all that bad or boring; in fact, my ability to relax and concentrate has increased significantly, something I didn’t realize how badly I was lacking before the move.
Life in Vermont is challenging, in a good way
One of the things I loved most about NYC was being constantly challenged, whether it was hustling to get ahead at work or figuring out the quickest subway route. I was always trying to get ahead or get somewhere else. Out in the country, my fiancé and I still work hard, but in different ways, like figuring out how to get internet in the woods or working through an electrical outage.
We regularly use more power tools than I can count, and I have become an amateur tradesman who can start a generator, split a log, and replace a condensate neutralizer pump on an HVAC system. Now, with all the work and commitments I’ve put into my new home, it feels like I’m building a foundation for the long-term.
I’ve been lucky enough to keep my career, at least for now
Like many New Yorkers with an office job, the pandemic forced my company to go fully remote which allowed me to move while keeping my job. I’m able to work as a healthcare director from 9-to-5 remotely in our upstairs office room, across from my fiancé. My job may go back to being in-person a few days a month at some point; while the commute to the city will be long, it will give me a chance to visit and see friends.
Thinking about the long-term, the opportunities in my field local to Vermont are limited. It would be difficult to find a comparable job that wasn’t remote or based elsewhere in the Northeast. But living here has made me think about alternatives I never previously considered, especially given how friendly the state is to small business. Could I get into a trade, or open a retail store? Maybe one day.
A new happy place
Looking back on my anxieties prior to leaving the big city for a tiny town, I’m sure I was worried about losing a big piece of the identity I had created for myself in NYC: that of a hard worker with a packed schedule, up on culture and politics and surrounded by fascinating people. The move to Dummerston made me realize it was just as much about what I brought to a place as what the place offered me. My new town has all the foundational elements to make an engaging and excellent life here too, and I’m excited to have taken the leap.
In April, my fiancé and I went back to NYC for a friend’s birthday. The city seemed the same, but I no longer felt like investing in its endless opportunities. I’m sure I’ll be back for work and to visit friends and family, but from now on, my identity is a bit more centered in my happy place in Dummerston.
Jessica Frisco is a director at an NYC-based healthcare network. She is a registered nurse and holds a Master of Public Health degree from Columbia University.
As a pediatric ER physician at NYU’s Bellevue Hospital, she believes everyone should get vaccinated for medical reasons and knew she could help.
Tay was able to successfully schedule appointments within two days for her two neighbors, who are in their 80s. After, she realized how she could serve a greater need.
“I thought, well, everybody in our building should get it because it would just make it a much safer place to live,” she told Insider. “So I posted signs in the mail room and then the laundry room. And I was looking specifically for seniors, because I figured the younger people can just do this on their own. Then people started calling me from within the building and it just became a thing.”
Word spread and more and more people who needed assistance with making appointments started reaching out to Tay.
“Pretty soon, I was making appointments for seniors all across New York City,” Tay said.
Tay said she spent the two weeks of vacation she had off from work making vaccine appointments. By the end of February, she’d made over 200 appointments all on her own. During the process, she realized there were whole communities in addition to the elderly who couldn’t make their own vaccine appointments, like those who were unable to afford a computer or didn’t have internet access, as well as those with language barriers or who were deaf or blind.
But then her vacation ended.
“It got to be overwhelming because I had to go back to work,” Tay said. “But there was so much work that needed to be done that I wanted to tap into other groups of people.”
Growing the team
So she recruited the help of medical students and joined the Facebook group Helping NYC get Vaccinated (Covid-19), a private group created by Chelsea Lavington, Beka HM, and Tony Ko on January 12, 2021. The group’s 6,700 members share vaccine appointment information and eligibility updates – hearing of Tay’s effort, several members also volunteered to help.
Madalyn Fernbach, 23, is a member of the Facebook group and a clinical research coordinator at Memorial Sloan Kettering cancer center who’s been helping Tay. She joined the Facebook group initially in early February to secure a vaccine appointment for her grandmother, but saw an opportunity to continue to help out others in need of assistance.
Since coming on alongside Tay, Fernbach said she’s made 50 appointments, including one for a woman who specifically wanted the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
The first appointment Fernbach was able to find for her was at 2 a.m. The woman enthusiastically took the slot and immediately asked Fernbach if she could find an appointment for her husband. Fernbach tried to explain to the woman how difficult that would be, but right at that moment another appointment for the same time popped up. The couple was extremely grateful for Fernbach’s assistance and said their vaccination process went smoothly.
“I work from home right now, so this is a great way without being on the front lines to do your part and contribute to the pandemic efforts,” Fernbach said. “I challenge other healthcare workers who have the luxury of working from home who want to make a difference to join causes like this and help local seniors or local community members find ways to get their appointments.” As of March 10, Tay’s entire team has made about 300 vaccine appointments.
Do you have a vaccine story you want to share? Contact Lauryn Haas at email@example.com.
Making the process as seamless as possible for vulnerable communities
To make the process as smooth as possible, Tay has a phone number that those who need help can call, and she’s also set up a Gmail account for email requests that are then sent to volunteers like Fernbach. As of March 10, there are 870 requests to be processed.
Tay also created more flyers in multiple languages to put up throughout the city in places like senior centers. She said she asked a friend for help with the Spanish translation, while her father helped her translate the flyer into Chinese.
“I’ve definitely tapped into the Chinese community, but I wish that we could also do the same with other pockets in New York City as well,” she said.
Tay said that the most difficult community to reach are the elderly who don’t own computers because the main way for them to find out about her is by seeing the flyers around town. At a time like this when everyone is staying indoors it’s even harder, and often they can only be reached by word of mouth.
To snag appointments, Tay and her now dozens of volunteers routinely visit seven or eight websites with vaccination slots, like the NYC COVID-19 Vaccine Finder and Vax 4 NYC, and refresh the pages until they can find an opening.
Tay said she works on this during evenings and weekends when she isn’t at her day job, and Fernbach even helps out on her lunch break. The team also follows the Twitter account Turbo Vax (@turbovax), a bot account that tweets available vaccine appointments from city- and state-run administration sites.
Overcoming obstacles like privacy and documentation
Finding an appointment is one challenge of the process, but another is getting some residents who are eligible for the vaccine to share the required information.
Tay said that she was recently helping one gentleman over the phone who refused to give her the information she needed to make his appointment, like his address and birthday. They went back and forth, and he got rude with her before hanging up the phone. She happened to see a location right next to where he lived and made the appointment for him anyways.
“He called me back and he was very apologetic,” she said. “‘I didn’t know him, but I knew he needed it.” She added that the man ended up making a donation to Bellevue to thank her for her service.
Tay said that there are also many undocumented immigrants in New York City who want the vaccine but are too nervous to reveal personal details. It helps that the undocumented immigrants she works with are usually referred by a friend of a friend. She also worked with an immigration lawyer, who provided blank templates for undocumented immigrants to fill out and take to their appointments.
“They’re just afraid to appear,” she said. “They’re afraid to get the vaccine, but they need to. In Queens and in Brooklyn, there’s different pockets with a lot of immigrants who have really suffered a lot from COVID. And that is the population that I’m trying to target so we can help keep everybody safe.”
She said the people she’s helped are often very grateful, but she’s not looking for any tokens of appreciation.
“We get a lot of people who really want to give us things or take us out to lunch,” Tay said. “And really this is not about anything that’s materialistic in any way. This is simply just so that everybody can become healthy.”
If you’re a New York City resident who needs help making a vaccine appointment, you can fill out this form to request help from Tay and her volunteers. For those looking to join Tay and her team, you can fill out this form.