Image by Julie Strupp.

There are hundreds of emojis, yet most of the time, we find ourselves sticking to the classics—an innocent smiley face, a cute puppy, or perhaps a simple heart. Some emojis are so obscure, it's difficult to imagine a situation where you’d ever use them.

Luckily, the Least Used Emoji Bot is shining light on the most underutilized emojis. The Twitter bot updates emojitracker hourly, and tweets out the new least-used emojis. You may be wondering, “What does an article about the least-used emojis doing in a publication about the built environment?”

Here's the connection. The two main contenders for the least-used emoji of 2018 were the aerial tramway emoji 🚡, also known as a cable car or gondola, and the input symbol for Latin capital letters 🔠. Recently, an epic battle between fans of these two emojis broke out over Twitter.

Many urbanists jumped on board to get the beloved aerial tramway symbol out of the race. That's why you may have come across gratuitous aerial tramway symbols peppering urbanist tweets.

Some of GGWash's contributors got into it too.

Aerial Tramways have been used to move people, goods, and resources since the 1600s. Often used in ski resorts, aerial tramways are increasingly seen as an efficient alternative mode of transportation in other terrain-constrained areas.

Roosevelt Island Tramway by Prayitno licensed under Creative Commons.

Conventional transit modes often require large investments to conquer topographical barriers such as bodies of water, valleys, and mountains. The popular Roosevelt Island Tramway in New York City is an excellent example of how this technology can be utilized in an urban areas. The tramway spans across the East River and connects Roosevelt Island to the Upper East Side of Manhattan.

Closer to home, DC is considering building a gondola to ferry people across the Potomac River between Georgetown and Rosslyn.

Image by Georgetown Gondola used with permission.

As the world population becomes increasingly urban, the need for innovative transportation solutions is critical. Many urbanists felt supporting the aerial tramway emoji was a way to show support for transit more generally.

The aerial tramway has gathered a lot of support on social media, and now the battle has completely shifted. Now the non-potable water symbol emoji 🚱 has taken the aerial tramway emoji’s place as one of the least-used emojis of 2018.

While the battle for the least-used emoji of 2018 wages on, urbanists can find solace that at least for now, the aerial tramway emoji has triumphed.


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Sarah Bacharach is a New Jersey native currently attending The George Washington University. She is focusing her studies in the areas of environmental science, public health, and GIS. Sarah became interested in urban planning when she moved to DC and realized the immense role cities play in building a sustainable future.