Nine Ingenious Urban Hacks to Make New York City Smarter

By Sarah Zhang on at

We Brits think that we're resourceful, but New York's finest urban hackers have put us to shame. Did you know a bike rack can become a fold-down seat? Or that you can charge your phone at sign posts? Or that a barricade is easily re-purposed as a bench? These are just some of the small but imaginative hacks that make the concrete jungle a slightly more delightful and welcoming place.

Rotten Apple has been transforming small corners of New York City over the past year. "Once I install the provocations they become the property of the people interacting with them," its creator told us. He hasn't had any problems with the city yet, but prefers to remain anonymous to keep it that way.

The project is meant to provoke city dwellers into thinking about how urban infrastructure can be re-purposed for uses both fun and imaginative. Rotten Apple's website cites Victor Papanek, a designer who advocated environmental responsibility, as inspiration. "Design, if it is to be ecologically responsible and socially responsive, must be revolutionary and radical in the truest sense. It must dedicate itself to... maximum diversity with minimum inventory... or doing the most with the least," reads Papanek's quote.

A selection of our favourite hacks is below, but go to Rotten Apple to see all 23 clever ideas. [Rotten Apple via Pop-Up City]


Bike rack folding seat

9 Ingenious Urban Hacks To Make the City Smarter

9 Ingenious Urban Hacks To Make the City Smarter


DIY phone charger

9 Ingenious Urban Hacks To Make the City Smarter

9 Ingenious Urban Hacks To Make the City Smarter


Bus stop bench

9 Ingenious Urban Hacks To Make the City Smarter

9 Ingenious Urban Hacks To Make the City Smarter


Waiting for the train chalkboard

9 Ingenious Urban Hacks To Make the City Smarter


Sign post swingball

9 Ingenious Urban Hacks To Make the City Smarter

9 Ingenious Urban Hacks To Make the City Smarter


Magnet board

9 Ingenious Urban Hacks To Make the City Smarter


Bike seat

9 Ingenious Urban Hacks To Make the City Smarter

9 Ingenious Urban Hacks To Make the City Smarter


Subway magnet poetry

9 Ingenious Urban Hacks To Make the City Smarter


Urban hammock

9 Ingenious Urban Hacks To Make the City Smarter

9 Ingenious Urban Hacks To Make the City Smarter