If the MTA renamed its subway stations — like 34th Street-Herald Square after the Empire State Building, and Spring Street after the Cronut — tourists would surely ask us fewer questions.
A Manhattan-centric subway map by the Berlin-based journalist Tin Fisher and Paris-based architect and designer Jug Cerović uses geotagged Instagram data from 2014 to do just that, christening the Big Apple's busiest stops after the most popular hashtags in their vicinity. (Instagram has since restricted access to its geographic data, so don't expect any update. You can read more about Fisher's data analysis here.)
In this way, "Tags and the City" transforms the 2nd Avenue station on the F line into #newmuseum, the Morgan Avenue station on the L line into #Robertas and Cathedral Parkway on the 1 line into #Seinfeld, as the exterior of Tom's Restaurant near the station served as a stand-in for the sitcom's hangout Monk's Cafe.
If Instagram users had their way, food and cultural destinations would dictate the majority of station names. We'd be taking the 2 train from #redrooster in Harlem down to the Hook & Ladder 8 firehouse near #ghostbusters in TriBeCa, and the 4 train from #bam in Downtown Brooklyn up to #serendipity on the Upper East Side.
As our friends at CityLab put it, "What surfaces over and over again in "Tags and the City” is humanity’s fascination with stuffing our faces."
However, the map isn't just for tourists who want their followers to know they've been to #eataly or #jacobspickles, Fisher told us.
"The project inequaligram.net has done some research into similar data and came to the conclusion that both locals and visitors prefer to represent the same places on Instagram," he said in an email, referring to the site that analyzed millions of public Instagram images shared in Manhattan over five months as a way to investigate economic inequality.
We'll hazard a guess that it was native New Yorkers, not visitors, who posed hundreds of photos near the Upper East Side #shakeshack station in 2014.
If you love Fisher and Cerović's graphic, you can buy it as a smartphone case, print or mug here.