Risky Business: Dizzying Vistas, Courtesy of NYC's 'Outlaw Instagrammers'


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Photo by humzadeas/Instagram

There's a new class of urban climber in NYC, and New York Magazine has deemed them the "outlaw Instagrammers." Unlike the Russian daredevils that blow up YouTube with their hair-rasing ascents of supertalls, these intrepid, plugged-in youngsters are committed to using the smartphone as their platform of choice, and even refer to each other as "K's" once they break 10,000 followers. Apparently, they can be easily spotted "by the distinctive humpback of their padded photographers' backpacks and colorful lightweight Nikes, equally effective at gripping rusty ladder rungs and looking cool in a photograph hanging over the city from the edge of a skyscraper's roof, as if all of Manhattan were just an ottoman." An ottoman that, quite naturally, looks pretty breathtaking from the top of a bridge, in the wee hours of the morning or late at night, with a faux-vintage filter over it.

As writer Adrian Chen tells it, these climbers have more in common with graffiti artists than urban explorers. Whereas the latter might snap a selfie just to prove they've been somewhere (or "go to the top of the bridge and touch it and be like, Wow, this architecture!," snarks one of Chen's subjects) the Outlaw Instagrammer is all about chasing the allure of the perfect 'gram, with the added bonus of being "better-positioned to thrive in post-Giuliani, post-Facebook New York than old-school graffiti writers: transgressive enough to be cool, but innocuous enough to amass a huge following without getting hunted down by the NYPD." If one of them can make it atop One World Trade, we could soon have another "Instagram foot shot to end all Instagram foot shots" on our hands.

· The Outlaw Instagrammers of New York City [NY Mag]
· Here's a Look Straight Down From the World's Tallest Tower [Curbed National]
· All NYC coverage [Curbed National]

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