Watch and Smell: Discover New York City Through the Noses of New Yorkers

“It’s garbage. Yeah, definitely garbage.”

“Well… no, maybe it’s more on the shit spectrum.”

“No way — it’s vomit. Vomit, for sure.”

“Absolutely not. It’s flowers, lovely flowers, or better yet, maybe it’s just love.”

Only in a city as vibrant and culturally diverse as New York will you get this kind of dialogue, because amongst the five boroughs is a symphony of smells. While they aren’t all pleasant (urine, hot trash, and my favorite, mystery subway), they are a representation, regardless of ethnicity, class or community, of what 8 million people from all over the world call home.

So, seeing as smell is the strongest anatomical sense, we sniffed our way up Broadway and down through Dumbo, using scent as a vehicle to explore the Big Apple with some help from the noses of our fellow New Yorkers.

We do call it a melting pot, so why not open the lid and take a whiff?

Author annotation:

I was 12 when I first visited the city and 23 when I moved. I fell in love with the people, the architecture, the food and culture and yes, the smells – good and bad. So how and why do we atomize this narrative for Snapchat? Besides the fact that it is my platform of choice (you should probs follow me @manhorse for a good time), it is actually very similar to the city we know and love. It’s unique – it doesn’t follow the formula of traditional social platforms, free of paid advertisements and suggested followers flooding your feed. It’s alive – a medley of pictures, videos and doodles give your senses a taste of something new every few seconds. And it’s begging for your attention – a 24-hour time limit creates a sense of urgency,  begging your index finger to tap, your eyes to watch and your ears to listen, much like the allure of New York. Nothing is mundane here if you choose to look at it the way it intends for you to. With its blinding lights, incessant traffic noises, boisterous street performers, New York is begging for your attention. It wants to be all consumed – touched, heard, seen and smelled. Plus, with its short bursts of video, pictures, text and illustration, Snapchat is inherently Atomization in practice—messages broken into short, digestible, must-watch-now pieces that make up a whole part. A very addicting part.

Catie Horseman, Editorial

Snapchat production crew: Catie Horseman, Lara Rojas, Matthew Thompson, Paul Slupski, Colby Kotzen, Audra Martin,  Mike Pasquariello and Frances Matos.

Explore this issue

Whoever Smelt It: Photographing Scent in New York City

Read More 

Do People Still Wear Perfume?

Olfactory Cartography: A Tour of New York City by Scent

Is Scent Storytelling Stinky Or Sweet?

Letter From The Editor

I Can’t Smell Anything: Living Without the Most Powerful Sense

You are
reading

Watch and Smell: Discover New York City Through the Noses of New Yorkers