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Will a Rat Map Make NYC's Restaurants Cleaner?

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Most New Yorkers accept that rats are everywhere in this city, but even the most hardened residents may draw the line at restaurants.

Yet in some neighborhoods, a majority of restaurants inspected by the Health Department have been cited for rats or mice. That's according to a new interactive map on the Gothamist website.

Queens Village, Far Rockaway, and East Harlem are among the areas with violation rates over 50 percent. But many areas did remarkably well — Roosevelt Island is apparently a rat-free zone.

Journalist (and former WNYC Data News Team member) Steven Melendez used Health Department inspection figures to create the map. He said some level of infestation is to be expected with old buildings in close quarters, but he hopes restaurants will keep trying to rid themselves of the pests.

"The best thing that will probably come out of it is if this motivates restaurants to do what I think a lot of them are already doing, which is trying to keep their establishments as tidy as they can," he said.

Melendez said he won't be changing his dining habits anytime soon. "I've had the occasional mouse in my apartment and I'll still make a sandwich here, so it doesn't bother me too much," he said.

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