When we first mapped out the locations of surveillance cameras installed in public places in Greenwich Village (Manhattan), back in May 2001, we found that this residential area had more cameras (231) than any other area (even the business districts) that we had mapped to date. This shocking fact, which was first reported by the local Fox affiliate, revealed that surveillance devices proliferate where there are rich people and property worth insuring, not where there are poor people and high instances of "crime."
Between January and March 2004, we returned to Greenwich Village and mapped a second time. So there's no confusion, we must make clear that we decreased the area under consideration: we didn't map the area east of Sixth Avenue, which we now consider part of the area occupied by New York University and will include in a separate map. Taking this decrease into account, back in May 2001 there were a total of 165 publically installed surveillance cameras in Greenwich Village, 162 of which were installed on privately owned buildings.
According to our most recent map, which took an incredible 10 hours to make, there are now a total of 371 cameras in the area: 336 installed on privately owned buildings; 27 installed on buildings occupied by the federal government; 4 installed on buildings occupied by the government of the State of New York; and 4 installed on city-owned poles. That is to say, over the course of the last 3 years, the number of cameras in the area has more than doubled. There are, once again, many more cameras in Greenwich Village than there are in Midtown Manhattan ("only" 284), Times Square (258), or the United Nations (179).
What accounts for these incredible numbers? Is Greenwich Village threatened by the worst elements in society? Is it a "hot spot" for crime? Is it a "soft target" for terrorists? No, it isn't. Greenwich Village is ravaged by super-gentrification, by the construction of brand-new, steel-and-glass nightmares into which such rich-and-famous people as Nicole Kidman, Monica Lewinsky, Edie Falco, James Gandolphini and other "stars" are moving in ever-growing numbers. Watch out.
By e-mail SCP@notbored.org
By snail mail: SCP c/o NOT BORED! POB 1115, Stuyvesant Station, New York City 10009-9998