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Eric Fischer on Flickr
Tourists and locals share an uneasy detente at times on New York’s crowded streets. When it comes to photography, however, there’s evidence that these two tribes dwell in different cities. Eric Fischer, a 37-year-old computer programmer from Oakland, Calif., created a map using geotagging data on the photo-sharing websites Flickr and Picasa to plot the points in New York (and 71 other cities) captured by shutterbugs. He then devised an ingenious system for separating tourists from locals. A user with many shots of the same city taken over a wide range of dates is deemed to be a local, and marked on the map with blue dots. Tourists get a red dot. (Yellow dots could not be placed in either camp).
The results are quite revealing. Midtown, as expected, is aflame with tourist red, as is the area in Lower Manhattan where the Statue of Liberty can be seen. The East Village and Chinatown, however, are far more blue. Another split happens in two prime Manhattan green spaces: Central Park is heavily photographed by tourists, while the scenic stretch of Riverside Park along the Hudson on the Upper West Side is shot almost entirely by locals.
The map shows a few far-flung hot spots. The Meadowlands and Yankee Stadium are bright red, while Citi Field is purple. Beyond the sports stadiums, few locations in New Jersey, the Bronx or Queens register as photo fodder for either locals or tourists.
The iconic Brooklyn Bridge is completely covered by red dots. The nearby Manhattan Bridge, however, looks to be a purple-hued shared subject for tourists and locals, while the all-blue Williamsburg Bridge is predominantly shot by locals.
Brooklyn might be the most revealing borough of all. Unlike the Bronx and Queens, which show little evidence of geotagged photograph uploads, Brooklyn features plenty of photography, mainly by locals. One you leave the vicinity of the Brooklyn Bridge, there are few red dots to be seen.
And for those who want to avoid tourists all together this summer? Fischer’s New York map offers an inadvertent tip: go to Governors Island. The tourists, at least as indicated by Flickr photos, haven’t found there their way there yet.
As for Fischer, it turns out he’s fairly ordinary guy when he travels with a camera. “I have unfortunately only spent a few hours in New York City myself,” he explained in an email. ” It turns out that the pictures I took while I was there were pretty typical of what other tourists were taking.”
June 8, 2010, 4:09 PM ET
Aaron Rutkoff: Data Shows Where Locals, Tourists Snap Shots of NYC