Rats are no longer happy suckling at the rim of a cast-off PBR can. Like all discerning New Yorkers, today’s vermin demand a boutique experience. Hence the “squeakeasies” that Hunter Fine has placed around Manhattan and Brooklyn. The tiny tippling spots are strategically located near the city’s “rat reservoirs.” If you want in, wear earth tones and be about six inches long.
Fine, creator of the Hipster Traps and the Bedbug Hotels, built the squeakeasies over the summer and has been putting them out over the past couple of weeks. He says “most of them are newly made to look old”– as befits the hipster aesthetic. But he also varies their vibes to cater to their location.
“I felt like the Upper East Side one should be a little classier,” said Fine. “I was trying to get into that neighborhood, like what they would do.”
Most of New York City’s rats are “Norway Rats,” and the Traphouse, in Greenpoint, shows the Scandinavians’ shameless appropriation. “I feel like it has a Polish vibe,” Fine said of that squeakeasy.
Since 2015, the city has been describing areas of high rodent concentration as “rat reservoirs” and targeting them for additional extermination work. According to the health department, the infestations are driven by improper disposal of food waste and improper upkeep of buildings. In other instances, major construction projects have unsettled rats and sent them scurrying for new homes. (No wonder they could use a drink.) Fine’s piece was inspired by a 2016 NBC investigation that revealed the locations of the reservoirs.
Fine, a freelance copywriter who also works out of a studio in Bushwick, has been in the city since 2003. Since then he has lived in the East Village, the Lower East Side, and Williamsburg, which has given him a front-row seat for gentrification and hipsterism.
This isn’t his first attempt to riff on pest control. “I put the Hipster Traps in Williamsburg because there was an epidemic and I wanted to trap one,” he said. “And I did the Bedbug Hotels to make light of the fact that there are bedbugs in every fucking building.”
You can find his squeakeasies by consulting– yes– Zagrat.