New York

Myth-busting New Yorkers’ worst fears about life in NYC

After a Big Apple-based author tweeted about subway water plopping into her eye earlier this week, the unsavory story went viral, sparking tales of all types of New Yuck-centric encounters.

Among the greater than 2,000 replies to Dana Stevens’ stomach-turning tweet, one man claimed to swim out of a flooded subway station flanked by rats whereas one other acquired a mouthful of dwell pigeon wing.

The responses helped illustrate how Gotham residents have a definite set of phobias — although they’re not restricted to vermin and muck in our transit techniques. There are additionally the ever-present fears of plunging by way of a subway grate or getting clobbered by a falling AC unit.

“In New York City, it’s unique to live in the middle of the great heights,” science author Cody Cassidy, who co-authored “And Then You’re Dead: What Really Happens If You Get Swallowed by a Whale, Are Shot from a Cannon, or Go Barreling over Niagara,” informed The Post.


“You have skyscrapers above and the subway underneath. Things can fall on you and you can fall down below.”

Here are some NYC-specific nightmare eventualities — in addition to the chance of them occurring and, in the event that they do, how one can improve your probabilities of survival.

Falling by way of subway grates

Someone falls into a subway grate once every 20 months according to a previous report.Someone falls right into a subway grate as soon as each 20 months in response to a earlier report.

Back in May, an 11-year-old boy in Bushwick fell by way of an open subway grate in Rudd Playground. He plunged about 10 ft onto vents and missed the tracks. Luckily, he solely sustained minor accidents.


According to statistics supplied to The Village Voice by Con Ed and the MTA in 2015, somebody falls by way of the grates about as soon as each 20 months, that means you’re more likely to be accosted by a zombie panhandler than be swallowed by the sidewalk.

If you’re one of many unfortunate few, Cassidy mentioned your probabilities of survival rely upon the depth of the autumn. “If you land on hard ground and it’s under 20 feet, you will probably break a bone. Between 30 to 40, your survival is questionable. If it’s in the water, you can go 150 and survive.”

An AC unit dropping from the sky

A/C units falling from the sky can be lethal -- but thankfully such instances are few and far between in NYC.A/C items falling from the sky might be deadly — however fortunately such situations are few and much between in NYC.

Precariously positioned window items do plummet down infrequently, although the final fatality on document was in 1988, when a person named Vito DeGiorgio was struck and killed by an AC unit.


In August, a firefighter battling a blaze in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, was knocked unconscious after being hit in the top by an AC unit that had fallen from a window. He was handled at Lutheran Hospital for his accidents.

Other air conditioner incidents have included a unit that was by accident dropped from a sixth-floor window and injured a woman’s leg in 2014; in 2010, a person was left in a coma after he was struck on the top by an AC unit that had fallen and bounced off an awning whereas he was strolling his canine. The man finally survived.

Still, whereas uncommon, Cassidy mentioned an object of that weight, even falling from six ft, might be disastrous if it strikes a sufferer proper in the top.

Elevator cables breaking

If you find yourself in a falling elevator, lie down as if you were making a snow angel.If you end up in a falling elevator, lie down as in the event you had been making a snow angel.

Plunging into the abyss of an elevator shaft is the stuff of nightmares, particularly in the land of tall buildings powered by them. The most up-to-date incident occurred in May when an elevator collapse in a four-story Bronx constructing killed one and critically injured one other man. According to TheRealDeal, there have been 22 deaths in NYC ensuing from elevator accidents between 2010 and January 2019.

Cassidy mentioned if an elevator cable breaks, the free fall will rely upon the design of the shaft. “If it’s a smaller building, it has a narrow shaft and the air can get trapped and almost provide a cushion, slowing it down.”

If it does occur, don’t soar. Cassidy advises to put down face up and unfold out the impression all through your physique. “It’s like you’re making a snow angel in the elevator,” he mentioned.

Falling onto the subway tracks

New Yorkers have many only-in-NY phobias, including the fear of falling on the subway tracks.New Yorkers have many only-in-NY phobias, together with the worry of falling on the subway tracks.

Stumbling onto the subway tracks ranks fairly excessive on New Yorkers’ phobia lists. It’s a significant plot level in Netflix’s “You,” in which a drunk Beck falls onto the tracks as a practice pulls into the station solely to be rescued by Joe. Sure, he later kills her — however that’s one other Big Apple fear.

The MTA has recorded dozens of individuals hit by trains by way of the primary 5 months of the yr — with the NYPD reporting 23 “non-criminal” fatalities throughout that interval, down one from the identical timeframe final yr. There’s additionally been a string of unprovoked assaults of straphangers being shoved onto the tracks, together with the most recent incident on Monday in Tribeca, the place the sufferer was capable of crawl again onto the platform.

In 2007, 20-year-old movie scholar Cameron Hollopeter fell onto the tracks after struggling a seizure. With the practice barreling into the station, Navy veteran Wesley Autrey jumped down to put on Hollopeter, holding him down in an area between the tracks. They each survived and Autrey was dubbed the “Subway Superman.”

If you land on the tracks and might’t climb again out in time, there are a couple of ideas for surviving, reminiscent of rolling into the trough between the tracks and avoiding the third rail.

A penny tossed from a skyscraper

A penny dropped from the top of the Empire State Building won't kill you -- but a falling pen might.A penny dropped from the highest of the Empire State Building received’t kill you — however a falling pen would possibly.

It’s well-known city lore that dropping a penny from the highest of the 102-story Empire State Building will kill anybody on the bottom immediately.

Not so, mentioned Cassidy. The terminal velocity is simply 25 miles per hour, and the coin would tumble because it fell, slowing its pace. If it made contact, it might produce a sting.

“Throwing a baseball would break bones, but the most the most dangerous object to toss off the Empire State Building would be a pen, especially if it has a pocket clip because it can go up to 170 mph,” mentioned Cassidy.

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