No Sleep City: New York After Dark
When asked to contemplate the idea of escape from the city, we went immediately to the search for peace and quiet in The City That Doesn’t Sleep. That sleeplessness is a real thing. We took a look at 311 complaint data, from 2010 until the present day, mapping all of the complaints that took place between the hours of 12-6am, when we should all be in bed. Of course, most 311 complaints are about noise, but the resulting visualization shows a city that is inflamed and pulsating in the middle of the night. It seems that no one can get to sleep in this town.
We wondered about that pulsation and how it might relate to our ongoing fascination with the electromagnetic environment of the city. If we look at a satellite image of that city in the middle of the night, we see it fully incandescent, glowing. And the color of that glow? That’s the light of our built environment: buildings, street lighting, and the light from our screens. And it’s changing.
As we speak, about 250,000 sodium halide streetlights in New York City are being replaced with LED, which tend to be significantly more efficient and also give off a cleaner, more illuminating light. It’s a $76.5 million project and if projections bear out, will save the city about $14 million in maintenance and energy annually.