The 10 most popular public art spots in Manhattan, according to Foursquare check-ins (graphic by Hyperallergic, based on a graphic) (click to enlarge)

Lady Liberty receives more than 3.5 million tourists every year. But how does that match up with some of New York’s other public art that do not have ticket sales to track attendance? By surveying foursquare check ins at venues listed as statues, sculptures, or memorials, one can form an unofficial index of Gotham’s most popular public art.

There are over 100 sculpture, statue, and memorial check ins on the island of Manhattan. That’s if you qualify venues as:

  1. actually existing and
  2. having more than 10 total check ins.

Despite a rousing 32 check ins, I was unable to prove that the Four Loko Memorial was a part of Union Square’s public art landscape. Hence, it, like so many fascinating inventions, was cut out of this statuesque survey.

Zachary McCune - Manhattan Most Popular Art Infographic

Who does this?

It’s not exactly clear why any one would “check in” to a statue, sculpture, or memorial. While most venues are demarcated spaces, a piece of public art is pure landmark — a point in space but rarely offering space of its own to inhabit. Perhaps that’s the appeal. With stores and restaurant’s blending together in New York’s commercial scenery, statues stand out. Literally.

So when you want to tell a social network where you are at, a landmark might actual be the ideal check in. It will not earn you a discount or push you an ordering tip, but it will get you closer to the world around you. Imagine how you feel about that Koons flower you see every morning when you are, in fact, it’s mayor. Now that’s a weird relationship to have with “public” art.


Over a week ending on June 18, I collected and compared the 100 or so qualifying foursquare check-ins. Then I pulled out the top 17. Why? Because listing the top 20 would actually be just as arbitrary. Plus 17 is the number of NBA Championships the Boston Celtics have won. Then I compared Union Square and Central Park statues, just to see how they compared within the park and to one another. Then I checked into the Garment Worker statue on my way to work, because now I know I can do that.

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Original graphic up top via 

Zachary McCune is a digital culture researcher specializing in mobile and social platforms. He has developed music visualizers for MTV, filmed a documentary on traditional Irish games, and written an...