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Navel Gazing

Hell Gate Announces Our Favorite Blogs of 2023

The stories Hell Gate's staff loved the most this year.

A Hell Gate Sticker on a lamppost in front of a sun-dappled city playground
Hell Gate

Much like how a parent with many children loves all of their progeny, all of us at Hell Gate adore and appreciate every story we publish—but there are some blogs that we maybe love a little more than all the rest.

Whether they're about a masturbating raccoon or the indignities of overpriced airport food, all of these stories have one thing in common—they're something you would only expect to find at Hell Gate.

The River Hag of Newtown Creek; My Horny Raccoon Roommate and Me; Cat Fight; and John Painz Has to Help the Pigeons

Despite what our mayor recently suggested, there's more to New York City's wildlife than rats—and this year, we published so many good stories about the people who love our urban fauna (sometimes, as in the case of Katie's story on cat rescues, a little too much). —Esther Wang

The NYPD Took This Dog Into Custody Because His Owner Filmed the Police

This story neatly illustrates the NYPD's attitude towards the law—i.e., unimportant when it isn't favorable to them—in a way that's digestible and compelling. Equally important is that the dog arrestee in question is dementedly cute. Poor Harvey! —Katie Way

The Best New York City Bar Is in Hazleton, Pennsylvania

Sure, good bars are able to set the mood with lighting and booze and accoutrement, but ultimately, a bar is only as good as the people behind it. A chance encounter Molly Osberg had 130 miles west of the city with Jose Fetterolf, who runs Uncles' 80s Dive Bar, yields a touching portrait of a true New Yorker, one who ultimately had to leave to live their best life. —Christopher Robbins

All Aboard NYC's Communist Yacht Club

This piece made me believe that a future in which we all get to get out onto the water is possible. —Adlan Jackson

Wandering New York City's Grief Corridor

Molly Osberg is not (to my knowledge?) a trained geographer, but this piece is a masterful contemplation of a place through an unexpected perspective—in this case, that of the sick, the dying, and the people who attend them as they move through the sprawling medical complexes of the East 60s. —Max Rivlin-Nadler

Is 'The Book of Hov' Really for Anyone but Jay-Z?

This one made some people mad, but I love it. Adlan uses the billionaire rapper's vanity takeover of a monument to the commons as an opportunity to interrogate the sleight of hand that Jay-Z deploys to encourage people to read a collective good into his personal gain. —Nick Pinto

New York, City of Broken Clocks

At his day job, Jesse Coburn is Streetsblog's investigative reporter, spending months sifting through data, talking to sources, and publishing comprehensive stories that uncover and expose injustices and failings in our fair metropolis. He does that in this story too, but for broken clocks—and we have a lot of them. "New York has way bigger problems than broken public clocks," Coburn writes. "But I can’t help seeing something insidious in them—just another way that we neglect the public realm, make it less useful, less accommodating, less civic-minded." —Christopher Robbins

Meet Zoe Anderson Norris, the 'Nellie Bly You've Never Heard Of'

Here's the thing about starting a small outlet in a big city—you're not the first, you won't be the last, and man, there are much cooler people than you who have done it. Zoe Anderson Norris founded the East Side, a fire-breathing polemical magazine she wrote, edited, and published, in 1909 and ran it until 1914, employing some of the very same tactics we find ourselves using today—hosting fun parties for subscribers, while righteously speaking truth to power. She also predicted her own death which, well, we're going to skip that part (for now). This story was so good, it was subsequently shamelessly ripped off by the New Yorker. Such is the life of a smaller magazine. —Max Rivlin-Nadler

Dear Eric Adams: It's Time to Go Beyond 'Haters' and 'Waiters'

An expression we like so much we built an entire project around it, Eric Adams's oft-repeated bon mot also made for one of my favorite Hell Gate stories this year. This is, in my opinion, laugh-out-loud funny, something so many blogs strive for but few actually achieve. The wordplay really gets me. I'm letting this group post be the thing I like most in the Hell Gate 2023 story roundup of success. —Katie Way

Let's Punch Up the Natural Wine and Erotica Bar in Brooklyn

Again, there are few things more rewarding than reading your own website and getting to laugh at the things your coworkers are writing. Adlan is so funny, and this wine bar, which is near my apartment, would do well to heed him. The first couple of tips especially go down like a fine glass of silty orange wine. —Katie Way

'I Just Want to Live': Mauritanian Asylum Seekers in NYC Face an Uncertain Future

This piece does an incredible job of telling the stories of people who have fled a murderous regime in their home country only to encounter a maddening bureaucratic runaround in New York. —Nick Pinto

The Bathtub Rat Came From Above

A classic New York City tale of woe, told with breezy good cheer. Would we all be able to muster the courage that Rick Paulas does to open the bathroom door and face the hard truth in the porcelain? I'd like to think so! —Christopher Robbins

One Last Sunday at Two Brooklyn Public Libraries: 'It's a Big Loss'

It's always great when Hell Gate scrambles the jets and gets great scenes from a moment in contemporary New York history—in this case, the last days of Sunday service at (most of) New York's libraries. This is such a good website! —Adlan Jackson

Fathers Fail to Buy Sons Flatiron Building

After Jacob Garlick stole the hearts of New Yorkers by trying and failing to buy the Flatiron Building, the landmark was up for grabs. Our own Adlan Jackson headed downtown to bear witness to the auction, which was held en plein air at the New York County Courthouse. There, he found guys (a lotta guys) in sweat-stained suits, lifting up their paddles to spend tens of millions like you or I would order a bagel. Sold to the gentleman in the baggy suit for $161 million! —Christopher Robbins

The ‘Distracted Police Book’ Is a Zine Made for Eric Adams

This was a really great project by a bunch of young artists (who also did a fun gallery in the actual Hell Gate bridge) about cops looking at their phones on subway platforms. (Did you know we spent $150 million this year to catch farebeaters who only cost the MTA $104,000? Your tax money at work!) This was a cool interview by Katie filled with some pretty funny parts, but my favorite was the artists essentially saying (and I am paraphrasing here), "These cops aren't making us safer, and instead of looking at their phones they should be doing actual police work on the subways." So close, guys! —Max Rivlin-Nadler

Why Does a Plastic-Wrapped Turkey Sandwich Cost $15 at the Airport?

This begins with Chris trying to answer a question asked by everyone who has ever gotten hungry while at JFK, and then gets weirder, as the people in charge actively stonewall him, up to and including denying (by all evidence, improperly) his Freedom of Information Law request. —Nick Pinto

Scenes From an Open House for a $1,899/Month Little Italy Studio Apartment With a Bathtub in the Kitchen

A little slice of the everyday absurdity of 2023's New York City: An NYU grad student and his mom, a Long Island daily commuter, a possible landlord in a Lacoste shirt threatening to call the cops, and a bathtub in the damn kitchen. —Adlan Jackson

We Made the 'Brieghetti Pie' You See on the Subway

My relationship with brie never recovered from this podcast episode—I have not eaten it since and still feel a little sick when I smell it—but it was worth the sacrifice. —Katie Way

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