With the MTA and the Health Department cracking down on the problem, if you can even call it that, with rat infestations in subway stations, the New York Times has decided it’s time to preserve our fondest memories of these creatures, lest they no longer exist.
The call for subway rat photo submissions is preserving a common New York experience that goes back generations, to put it in grandiose terms. In fact, rats may have been the first rudimentary form of subway entertainment. Standing on the platform waiting for the train is sometimes like watching the rodent version of Frogger. First, a rat appears on the tracks all wily and shifty. Then you see the distant lights of the train: “Oh, no, is it gonna get him?” you might think. Then, the rat scurries further into the middle then runs along the opposite rail, and you momentarily cringe, thinking that you’re about to witness a subterranean homicide. But (almost) every time, the rat discovers an escape route and darts through a hole just in time, as if in a cartoon.
Rats are amusing and generally harmless to subway platform viewers, and though no one really talks about it, I would imagine a lot New Yorkers have a special place in their heart for these familiar faces. Others probably wish the subway would have its way with them. But, regardless of your sentiment, if you have a great rat photo that hasn’t seen the light of day, now’s your chance for that big break as an urban wildlife photographer.