Photos of standpipes with anti-sitting devices

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My nephew Ari Pescovitz, a metal sculptor and architecture grad student, spent the fall living in New York City for an internship. He became intrigued by the structures used to prevent people from sitting on standpipes. (Maybe that's why they're called standpipes, and not sitpipes! *rimshot*) "It amused me how hostile and creative New Yorkers were in not wanting people to slow down and rest," Ari says. So he began to photograph the standpipes as bits of urban engineering. Ari did find an exception to the anti-sitting technology though: a stand-pipe outfitted with a tiny seat. Above it was a sign: "Please be seated -- rest, dream, this is New York." The seat was sponsored by a realty firm.


    1. I don’t know how redundantly sadistic contraptions can be qualified as “creative”. There are an infinite number of ways to keep people from sitting that aren’t hurtful and that would be more aesthetic and actually creative.

  1. New York can be hostile to the homeless and if I was homeless there I would go someplace much warmer.

  2. I am kind of interested in this kind of design, where it’s actively trying to prevent certain kinds of usage. Like benches made so they aren’t *too* comfortable, or the anti-skateboarding nobs, or speedbumps, or those entrances that will let a pedestrian through but will catch up a bicycle.

    1. There are a few, yeah. One, if they’re anything like hydrant stems, they’re surprisingly easy to damage. Two, people have an irksome tendancy to treat them as trash recepticles, and stuffing crap inside sprinkler connections has pretty much exactly the effect on firefighting efforts that one might expect it to. And, third, there’s the generalized anti-loitering views, which, yes, certainly include some nasty anti-homeless policies, but come with the added issue that a people also like to use sprinkler connections for drug drops.

  3. How about sticking them under ground with a brightly colour drain cover over top? That’s how all the British ones are – which is the better system?

  4. A shopping centre near me, in Sydney, has the usual CCTV cameras at every entry/exit level.

    But for some reason they are festooned with vicious metal spikes, like a hedgehog.

    Michel Foucault was right.

  5. Hedgehog spikes on top of cameras are probably there to deter birds. Certainly they would be in the UK, are there pigeons in Sydney?

    So much easier to maintain the things if you don’t have an inch of encrusted bird poop to getb through first.

  6. Is it possible that a person sitting on the pipes torques them in a way that is bad for the pipe? A 200 lb. person plopping down on the end of a pipe is going to generate a lot of force. All it would take is one pipe somewhere in NYC being broken from people repeatedly sitting on it for firefighters to recommend nobody, anywhere, ever, sit on them again. They are the fire department, not the nice place to sit department.

  7. These impediments bear an uncomfortable resemblance to medieval torture devices such as “the Pear of Anguish”… ouch!

  8. This is reminiscent of cities spending millions of dollars rendering architecture unskatable instead of providing a skate park. Place a bench 20 feet away from the standpipe and nobody would sit on the thing.

  9. I always thought those thingys were to keep loiterers from loitering, and to keep folks from hurting themselves on standpipes and, eek, suing the building managers or owners. I love how one’s become a comfy home for someone’s discarded Dunkin’ Donuts cup: ah, endlessly refashionable New York!

    1. Thanks for the link to the 2007 gallery of more anti-sit tech! I was looking for this and couldn’t find it.

  10. I’m actually surprised these are all from New York. I’ve lived in and around the city for my whole life, and I’ve never noticed a stand pipe decked out like this. They can’t be that common and the stand pipe is my favorite place to tie my shoes and they all seem to be just out there.

  11. My favorites are the Vernian ones with the fins, especially the brassy-looking thing on the right side and the big red one in the middle. It reminds me of some early Soviet Constructivist design that Tatlin could have come up with.

  12. I’ve never seen a fire connection that low to the ground. Maybe if they put the connection at 3.5-4 ft, like we do around here, no one would try to sit on them. Too easy?

  13. I’ve never heard the term standpipes before. We just call them fire hydrants here. Before now, if somebody would have said ‘standpipes’ in a sentence to me I would have had no idea what they were referring to. Apparently this is a common term?

    1. Anon#30:

      Hydrants are connections to the water supply. Standpipes are vertical pipes built into a building that save firefighters from having to drag heavy pressurized hoses up multiple flights of stairs.

      Think of them as “extension pipes” that, when connected to a hydrant or a pump truck, extend supply hydrants up to all the floors of the building.

      (Some of these are not standpipe connections, but rather, sprinkler-system connections. They’re very similar, but they feed built-in overhead sprinklers instead of interior hose connections.)

  14. Call me crazy, or oversexed or what-have-you, but is anyone else seeing a pairs of breasts (some with nipple-tassles)?

    My god Freud would be having a field day with me right now.

  15. Aren’t standpipes less comfortable to sit on than the benches made to feel uncomfortable anyway?

    I hope they don’t do something to the sidewalk to keep people from sitting on it.

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