As someone who grew up in New York in the 70s, the phenomenon described here seems positively unthinkable. So, quite frankly does this, which I would have done had I not been injured. It was apparently a lot of fun. Oh, and this. Anyway, running is a great way to get to know obscure corners of the city, but I'm a morning runner. Night time running in New York has always seemed a solitary, slightly crazy endeavor that evokes, for me, memories of a variety of horror stories from an earlier era.
Suddenly, the city has transformed into a place where people feel comfortable running in shorts at all hours. So, what has facilitated this transformation? Is it the Bloomberg era attention to public space? That certainly makes a difference. It is now possible to link up runs through Brooklyn Bridge Park, across the Brooklyn Bridge, up the West Side, etc., for example, so there are just a lot more cool runs than their used to be. Is it the cell phone that makes it possible to feel safe and in touch in further flung locales? Is it the fact that gentrification has pushed the boundaries of the city past Williamsburg and Park Slope? Or is it social media that makes it possible for these running flash mobs to form on short notice?
I suspect it's some combination of all of the above. Or maybe I'm just overanalyzing it . . .