That Time WNYC Used a Ghost to Tell People to Conserve Water

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Trick photograph (by LM Melander and Brothers) entitled 'The Haunted Lane,' depicts a pair of men terrified by a female 'ghost,' mid to late 19th century.

In 1949, New York City was in the midst of a pretty serious water shortage. To inform residents that they needed to conserve, WNYC aired a radio play/public service announcement called "The Man Without a City."

The story is about Jeremiah P. Driftwood, a city man who cops an attitude with a ghost when it asks him to turn off his running faucet. Well, the apparition doesn't take very kindly to Jeremiah and puts a curse on him, barring him from using any city services. Hilarity ensues as Driftwood goes about his day but can't get on the subway, grab a cab or even eat lunch.

Maybe the real lesson here is to check your ego at the door when dealing with those pesky New York City ghosts.

The Man Without a City


This audio is courtesy of the New York City Municipal Archives.