I Played Pokémon Go At The Most Offensive Pokéstops In NYC

by Eitan Levine
Eitan Levine

Gotta catch'em all! But at what cost?

Like everyone else in the United States, I began a journey over the weekend to become a Pokémon master. To be the very best, like no one ever was. Sure, catching them was my quest. But training them? That was my cause.

I'm going to be honest, before I downloaded Pokémon Go from the Android app store, I had little-to-no idea what it was. I assumed it was some on-the-go smartphone version of earlier Pokémon games or maybe some sort of Pokédex or something.

I mean, it's a smartphone game. How much could the programmers at Nintendo REALLY shove into that app?

The answer is a buttload. Literally, they shoved all of America into that app, and it's beautiful. The point of the game is to just walk around our glorious country on a quest to capture Pokémon and train them using items found at designated Pokéstops and Pokémon Gyms.

I don't care about pacemakers, EKG machines, the International Space Station or literally just the concept of cars. Pokémon Go is the single most important piece of technology on the planet.

Here is where it gets dark, though. Like soooo many other New Yorkers who downloaded the game, within three minutes of figuring out Pokéstops were based in landmarks around the city, I questioned whether there was a Pokéstop at the 9/11 Memorial.

Call me sick. Call me cold-hearted. Call me disrespectful. This stuff is like a reflex for me at this point, and I REFUSED to apologize for the sick way this city has made me think about life.

If you live in New York long enough, questions like this become knee-jerk reactions to situations -- like going, “No! It's pronounced HOW-ston,” whenever someone says Houston Street, or always walking immediately away from a completely empty subway during rush hour because subconsciously you know that car smells like a poo-poo factory that's working overtime during poo-poo season.

So I went on a journey to test my theory about there being Poké-locations at some of the least appropriate places in New York City.

My trip started at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, where within 30 seconds of walking up to the stairs, I came across an Oddish.

I then made sure to hit up the WWII East Coast Memorial.

Like 10 feet later, I stumbled into the Korean War Memorial and subsequently found a Weedle.

What was I gonna do, NOT catch it?

I next came across a monument featuring bronze people sobbing that I didn't recognize.

It looked absolutely horrifying, though, so I took out my phone, and sure enough, it was a Pokéstop/memorial literally just called "The Immigrants."

About three minutes later, I made my way over to a monument honoring American merchant mariners who died at sea.

I scored some sweet Poké Balls.

Slightly up the Hudson, I made a stop at the Holocaust museum.

To be very honest, that area is LOADED with Pokémon. If you're in the vicinity, I strongly suggest you check the Museum of Jewish Heritage out for Pokémon.

Gotta remember'em all!

(My friend Max pointed out crabs aren't kosher. The fact a Krabby was stationed outside of the Jewish museum is a direct afront to the Jewish people. Someone tell the ADL.)

I even had a chance to catch some Pokémon on top of the body of Alexander Hamilton.

As much as I was filling my item pouch with sweet Poké-grabs and loading up on new Pokémon during this ABSURDLY tragic and unquestioningly disrespectful journey, I still hadn't made my way to the one area I really wondered about on my quest.

I was still tiptoeing around Pokémon Go-ing at the 9/11 Memorial. I honestly think I was avoiding going there.

September 11, 2001 will go down in history as one of the single worst tragedies of all time. Thousands died that day, and the events during those few hours forever changed our lives.

Could Pokémon Go really have infiltrated the literal site where our world became a darker place?

The answer is "yes." A resounding "yes." Pokémon Go doesn't give a crap about national tragedies, and we're all responsible for this.

I literally wasn't even in the memorial gardens yet, and this popped up.

Then I got IN the memorial itself.

Then I lost all dignity I've ever had.

I did, however, gain a Goldeen. So if you think about it, it all evened out.

This whole experience was bizarre as hell and I'm convinced a security guard at the 9/11 memorial caught me catching that Goldeen. The funniest part is that I wasn't even the only person doing this. I saw two other people walking around the 9/11 memorial pool with Pokémon Go open and another one at the Holocaust museum. This entire experiment was just me walking around, whispering to myself "hmmm, theres no way that's a pokéstop... but I wonder...YUP, THAT IS A POKÉSTOP. THAT IS A COFFIN OF NAMELESS ORPHANS AND THAT IS A POKÉSTOP" and then noticing a few other schlubs doing the same thing.

All in all, not a terrible day of Poké-hunting!