If you wanted an examination of why TSA lines are so long, a guide to making savory Japanese pancakes or rules for befriending street dogs around NYC, Gothamist Films was on it in 2016. Below, check out 20 of our favorite videos from the year that was, and make sure to revisit all of our archival videos here.
Watch NYers' Hearts Break As They JUST Miss The Subway Train: There is no more quintessential NYC experience than running down a subway station platform with your arms flapping all about like a distressed penguin, making eye contact with the conductor, and then hesitantly stretching out your hand to try to slip between the doors before they close...and still missing it.
Watch New Yorkers Struggle With The MetroCard Swipe: Okay, there is one other such universal NYC experience: taking a swipe with a MetroCard and getting nailed in the crotch by the turnstile bar.
Video: Never Pay For Food Again In NYC: For some, the term "dumpster diving" evokes stomach-turning images of half-moldy rolls and recently-expired tuna salad snatched from the mouths of gnawing rats. But as many sophisticated urban survivalists know, there is an extraordinary amount of perfectly good, even gourmet, food set out every night in sanitary bags outside city delis, bakeries, restaurants, and supermarkets.
Video: How The Doomed 1980s Yankees Mascot "Dandy" Met His End: Sometime around the early 1980s, the Yankees had introduced Dandy, their first and last mascot. This fuzzy, pinstriped guy has a short, hazy history, as he was never fully embraced by the franchise. Dandy was "a failure," according to the NY Times, but we would argue that he just wasn't given enough of a chance to succeed.
Video: Meet The Woman Who Created Your Favorite Muppets: In 1970, a meeting took place that changed Muppets history—Bonnie Erickson, a young costumer, met with Jim Henson, who was looking for someone to fashion the costumes for The Frog Prince. Erickson got the job, and went on to create some of the most famous Muppets, including Miss Piggy and Statler & Waldorf. She is also the same woman who created Dandy!
This Staten Island Restaurant Employs Grandmas Instead Of Chefs: "Just like grandma used to make" is much more than a clever advertising scheme, it's literally what's happening at Staten Island's Enoteca Maria, where the kitchen's staffed not by professionally trained chefs, but by a fleet of "nonnas" from around the world.
Video: A Day Outside One Of New York State's Largest Abortion Clinics: Choices is a female-owned and operated clinic offering a full range of care, and they provide services on a sliding scale. The protesters are there to protest abortions, but Stella tells me that they believe "anyone patronizing the clinic is killing babies, whether or not you’re here for abortion care. Your money is supporting abortion, so, they’re against you."
Video: A Crack Dealer Turned Top Cop Shows Us The Streets That Became The Beat: Corey Pegues retired from the NYPD in 2013, having risen to the rank of deputy inspector and become an outspoken proponent of community policing. The following year, he drew the ire of the New York Post, police union officials, and an untold number of cops with an interview in which he described selling crack as a teenager, and a stint as a foot soldier for the legendary '80s drug crew the Supreme Team.
How To Make The World's Finest Gourmet Pizza Bagels: The joy and excitement of cooking should not be limited to those who are already great at cooking—pizza bagels are the ultimate expression of egalitarianism in the kitchen.
Video: One Simple Trick To Stop NYC Drivers From Killing You: One of NYC's most passionate advocates for safe streets improvements is Doug Gordon, a TV writer/producer by day who is better known around the Internet as Brooklyn Spoke: "I was inspired by a few different people to think of lighter, faster, quicker ways to make things safer, and found some traffic cones, and just put them up and just saw what happened." (For further viewing, check out videos on harrowing Brooklyn Bridge bike commutes and the depravity of the Midtown 8th Avenue bike lane.)
Video: This Queens Ice Cream Parlor Will Bring You Back To 1960s NYC: Forest Hills is one of those neighborhoods in New York City that doesn't really look like New York City. With Tudor and colonial-style housing, and stretches of the neighborhood resembling a platonic ideal of Main Street, U.S.A., it is exactly the kind of place you'd expect to find an old school ice cream parlor. Enter: Eddie's Sweet Shop, a beloved local ice cream parlor that has been around for almost half a century.
Hanging With Al Jaffee, MAD Magazine's 95-Year-Old Journeyman Cartoonist: For his 95th birthday, legendary cartoonist Al Jaffee received a plaque from the Guinness Book of World Records congratulating him on being the longest working cartoonist in history. Through his association with MAD Magazine, Jaffee was able to have a long, storied and very furshlugginery career while always remaining true to his freelancer roots: "One thing I can say is it's been the most pleasurable vocation that I could ever imagine having." (We also took a tour of the MAD offices with John Ficarra, current editor-in-chief.)
A Beginner's Guide To Eating Korean BBQ: Korean BBQ is one of the most fun and delicious communal dining experiences one can have, but for a newbie who doesn't know their banchan from their bulgogi, or their soju and their ssambap, it can be a little intimidating the first time.
Watch This Self-Proclaimed Idiot Hop Freight Trains To Montauk: For this endeavor, filmmaker and self-proclaimed "Hobo Clown King" Jeff Seal filmed himself repeatedly trying to get out to Montauk by hopping freight trains.
Inside Acuario Cafe, A Freight Elevator Restaurant Serving Dominican Food: In a city that's seemingly being overrun with chain restaurants, people love to brag about "hidden gems" that have been around for years and aren't going anywhere—but few eateries are as hidden as Acuario Cafe, a Dominican restaurant tucked away in a Hell's Kitchen freight elevator vestibule.
Inside NYC's Social Club For The Formerly Devout: For the members of Formerly Fundamentalist NYC, a meetup group for New Yorkers who have left strict religious communities, even perusing a menu in a Chinese restaurant is an exercise in post-religious decision making.
Video: Meet the Legendary Dosa Man of Washington Square Park: South Indian in origin, vegan, crunchy, sizable, cylindrical, cinematic, made from a fermented batter... whatever they are, dosas are insanely delicious. And Kumar, aka "The Dosa Man," makes the finest in the city.
Video: A Day In The Life Of A NYC Singing Telegram: The singing telegram industry is alive and well in New York City, proof of the timeless joy of embarrassing a friend, family member or colleague. Big Apple Singing Telegrams has been delivering personalized 'grams since the late '70s. We followed around one of their performers, Bernard Davis, as he delivered three birthday telegrams in Manhattan.
How New York Harbor Pilots Master Treacherous Waters: What does it mean to be a harbor pilot? We took a ride with Robert Blake, Jr., a harbor pilot of 37 years, earlier this year. New York Harbor is not only one of the largest and busiest natural ports in the world, but also the most complex. State law requires any foreign ship, or American ship with foreign cargo, to be escorted into the harbor with one of their pilots.
You're Not A Real New Yorker Until...: You may not be a real New Yorker until an actual rat has flown through the air and attacked you in the dead of night, but we still hit the pavement to ask locals to finish the sentence for us.