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Drinking Hot Spots in New York

Matt Murphy, October 08, 2013 -   

When I introduced beer heat maps in September, I received a number of suggestions for future applications. One that stuck out was the idea to make heat maps to identify hot spots of general beer consumption, rather than looking at patterns of individual brews. As a resident of Manhattan, testing out this idea on New York State (and City) seemed logical. So, first let's take a look at where people are drinking beer in the great state of New York.

Well, this isn't very exciting. We see a huge number of check-ins in the metro NY area, including NYC, Western Long Island, and Westchester. In addition, there are hot spots in all of the major cities throughout the state, such as Albany, Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse. Unsurprisingly, this looks quite a bit like a population heat map of the state.

So, to see if we can get something interesting from this data, let's zoom in to New York City to see how check-ins are distributed among the five boroughs.

Still not earth-shattering, but a bit more informative. Outside of Harlem, most of Manhattan is one bright red blob. Untappd doesn't appear to be very popular in the Bronx or Staten Island. The bulk of check-ins in Brooklyn and Queens are relatively close to Manhattan, including Astoria, Williamsburg, and Park Slope. Let's zoom in on Manhattan and see if we can get higher resolution.

Now this is better. We can now identify neighborhoods within Manhattan that are hot spots for beer drinkers (specifically, Untappd users). The two areas that stand out the most are the area surrounding Times Square and the East Village (on the East Side between Houston and 14th St). Times Square makes sense because of the high volume of people that pass through the area, and if you've ever been to the East Village you may have noticed the high density of bars in the area. If you happen to travel to New York and are looking for a general area to explore to find some beer, this map might be helpful. But what if you want to look for specific streets or bars that are popular among Untappd users?


Now we're zoomed into Midtown Manhattan. You can see Madison Square Park (and Shake Shack) at the bottom of the map, Penn Station and Madison Square Garden on the left, and Bryant Park at the top. Anyone who attended the NYC Beergraphs/Fangraphs meet up might recognize the bright green spot on 36th street (between Madison and 5th) as The Ginger Man, a highly popular craft beer bar with an excellent reputation. There is another hot spot just to the left of The Ginger Man on 35th street, which represents a trio of Irish Pubs, including Stout, which is especially popular for football and basketball. On the right side of the map at 34th street and 3rd Ave we have Joshua tree, which certainly isn't known for its craft beer but is popular nonetheless.

If you've spent a lot of time in Midtown, you might be able to pick out your favorite bar in the map above. If you haven't, then a map like this might help you pick a specific bar, or at least a neighborhood, where you might look for popular beer bars. Whether or not you find this particular exercise relevant, it illustrates the potential use of location-based data to look at general beer consumption patterns on a variety of scales.

When he's not writing about beer, Matt works at the NYU Medical Center where he does cancer and stem cell biology research. You can find him on Twitter at @murphym45.

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