Where I went in 2013

January 05, 2014

2013 was my first full year on Foursquare, so I thought it would be interesting to take a look at my data. Foursquare itself doesn't have great visualization or analysis tools built in, but there are a few third party services that do that. The main one I use is 4sqmap, which offers a great map of all my checkins. Here's what my 2013 looked like:

Checkins in 2013

I didn't really leave the northeast, except for a trip to Austin.

Data extraction

Unfortunately, 4sqmap doesn't have a way to view your checkin data by date. So, I decided to just do it myself. I wrote this python script to grab my year of checkins and process it. It does the following:

  • Gets all checkins from 1/1/13 to 12/31/13
  • Gets total number of checkins for each venue and sorts it
  • Gets total number of checkins for each category and sorts it
  • Gets the root category that each category belongs to
  • For each week, gets total number of checkins per root category
  • Dumps everything to csv files

The script contains a few too many for-comprehensions, but it works.

Venues and categories

Here are my top venues for the year (if you didn't know, I'm a fan of Chipotle):

39 Chipotle Mexican Grill
23 Cafe Bistro
11 Starbucks
11 Tina's Cuban Cuisine
8  La Vie En Szechuan
7  5th Ave Empire Cafe
6  BonChon Chicken
5  Halal cart
4  Cafe CD
4  Minar

And my top categories:

48 Mexican Restaurant
27 Chinese Restaurant
27 Office
27 Bar
24 Deli / Bodega
15 Korean Restaurant
13 Coffee Shop
13 Thai Restaurant
12 Cuban Restaurant
12 Burger Joint
10 Tech Startup
10 Sandwich Place
9  Park
9  American Restaurant
8  Asian Restaurant


With the exception of Chipotle and Starbucks, all of my top venues are places I went for lunch during the first half of the year. I went to a lot of the same places multiple times.

Lunches, part 1

This map shows my lunch spots from January to June. Almost all of them fall within a 4 block radius of my office, which was located at 34th and 5th. That's also where the Empire State Building is, or as I like to call it, the Chipotle building, since there's a Chipotle at ground level.

In September I started a new job at Union Square. I decided to be more adventurous this time, and went to Chipotle once a week and a new place the rest of the week. Here were the results:

Lunches, part 1

Now, the furthest I went was 8 blocks, or twice as far as before. This is a necessary evil of going to new places all the time. Union Square is awesome because it has so much stuff, but I'm slowly running out of new places to go. Eventually I'll have to start taking the subway up or down a stop, just to get lunch.

Categories over time

Lunches, part 1

This is the weekly snapshot of my checkins. There's a few trends I see:

  • I like food
  • There was a spike in offices and tech startups in July, when I was interviewing
  • The spike on 2/3 was when I went to a bunch of tourist places
  • The spike in 'food' on 6/30 was because I went on a wine tour, and wineries count as food
  • The huge spike on 9/1 was when I went to Austin
  • The only thing I did at the end of the year was drink


My main take away from this is that I really, really like Chipotle. I was the mayor of the 34th Street Chipotle until I stopped working there. I'm currently the mayor of the Union Square Broadway Chipotle, with a 15-week checkin streak.

A lot of people dislike Foursquare and say that it's not necessary or not useful, that Yelp or Google are better, that checkins are too much of a hassle, etc. That's fine - I agree with most of those points. I only use it as a personal log of where I've been. The gamification, tips, recommendations and all that are secondary. As long as checkins remain easy, I will keep using Foursquare.