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Popularity Contest of the Day: Urban Infrastructure, on Flickr

Popularity Contest of the Day: Urban Infrastructure, on Flickr
Paul Krueger/Flickr

We've all got our favorite pieces of urban infrastructure. Some people like manholes. Others enjoy streetlights. But what is the most favored city part of all?

We've come to a conclusion by comparing Flickr tag counts for a number of key city elements. Perhaps the research method places a premium on the photogenic, and it's also true that many of these elements appear in photos and are not tagged. (See above - manholes, street signs, traffic lights, bike lanes and stop signs all appear together; only one was tagged.) That's the cool thing about tags - we don't want to know the frequency of these elements in the city so much as how often they are noticed, prized, held up for praise and disdain. The method does not, however, rule out band names like "Streetlight Manifesto" and "The Manhole Boys."

Without further ado, in ascending order of Flickr popularity (full list at the bottom):

Bollards: 27,368

                                                                   Photo credit: Flickr user Garry Knight.

Subway/Metro entrances:  28,370

                                                                        Photo credit: Flickr user Rachel H.

Bike lanes: 58,321

                                                                  Photo credit: Flickr user Paul Krueger.

Manholes: 59,443

                                                                   Photo credit: Flickr user Rudolph Ammann.

Crosswalks: 69,680

                                                                           Photo credit: Flickr user Hungarian Snow.

Streetlights: 133,523

                                                                      Photo credit: Flickr user Zoetnet.

Stop signs: 148,276

                                                                   Photo credit: Flickr user Shooting Brooklyn.

Traffic lights: 214,715

                                                                  Photo credit: Flickr user Foto Footprints.

Bus stops: 257,209

                                                                   Photo credit: Flickr user Rob Milsom.

Street signs: 508,513

                                                                        Photo credit: Flickr user exfordy.

Full list: Bollards: 27,368

Subway/Metro entrances: 28,370

Bike lanes: 58,321

Manholes: 59,443

Crosswalks: 69,680

Streetlights: 133,523

Stop signs: 148,276

Traffic lights: 214,715

Bus stops: 257,209

Street signs: 508,513

Top image: Flickr user Paul Krueger.

Henry Grabar is a freelance writer and a former fellow at The Atlantic Cities. He lives in New York. All posts »

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