The Most Rat-Infested Block on the Upper East Side

| 02 Mar 2015 | 05:00

    According to city data, a stretch of East 93rd Street had the highest number of rat complaints in the neighborhood

    Rattus norvegicus: the street rat. It's a menace that New Yorkers can't seem to shake -- particularly if you live on 93rd Street on the Upper East Side. According to city data, 93rd between 1st and 2nd avenues is home to more rat complaints than any other spot in the neighborhood -- a fact largely attributed to continuing work on the Second Avenue Subway. As workers dig up sidewalk and scatter debris, the rats underground come up into the light of day? or, more frequently, to the calmer quiet of night.

    New Yorkers on 93rd Street called in 31 complaints over the last year as the MTA builds out what will one day be the 96th Street subway station serving Yorkville. That is the most complaints logged for a single block in the neighborhood.

    Joseph and Marina Yudborovski, residents of the rat-infested block, accept the rats with a shrug. As renters who came to the Upper East Side a year ago, they see a lot more rodents now than they did before, when they lived in a comparatively rat-free zone on 30th Street.

    "They're the size of small cats," Marina says. "Sometimes they get run over by cars. That's the worst."

    Still, the Yudborovskis have no intention of allowing the pests from pushing them out of the neighborhood, noting that the rats haven't made it into their building.

    And in New York, it could always be worse.

    "It'd be worse if there were roaches," Marina says. "Rats are smarter. They at least get out of the way."

    Or do they?

    Josh Barbour, who has been on the block for two years, thinks the rats have become emboldened as the ongoing construction has allowed them to familiarize themselves with their new neighbors.

    "They got fearless," Barbour asserts. "They don't run anymore, even if you jump at them."

    For the Waterford, a 230-unit, 47-story tower on the corner of Second Avenue at 300 East 93rd Street, the work staff is at a loss for how to deal with the profusion of pesky rodents on their property.

    One concierge, who requested anonymity for fear of jeopardizing his job, said that in his 15 years of working at the apartment complex the rat problem has never been so bad. The garden in front of the building has become overrun with the creatures, and he says that tenants will squeamishly hustle in and out of the building at night to reduce the amount of time in their presence.

    "The poison was working before," the Waterford employee told the paper. "Not now. There are just too many."

    "All people can do is call 311. They're scared, but they can't do nothing."

    Here ? in Yorkville, in New York ? there will be rats for the forseeable future. But that won't stop policymakers from trying to eliminate them. On the Upper West Side, starting in September the city will begin a pilot program to keep the rats from nesting in trees through the use of a gravel-like substance that deters them from building. The MTA, likewise, announced a pilot program this spring to use infertility-inducing bait to try to get the rat population under control.

    Of course, these are both pilot programs; there's no telling what will work, and until then, perhaps the best residents can do is remind themselves that the rats are just one more piece to the New York trade off; the cost to ride in the one of the most culturally-engaging, densely-populated urban centers in the world. For now, it looks like it's a price we'll all just have to continue paying.