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33 things New Yorkers do better than everyone else

From coffee to kvetching, nobody does it better than you, Gotham

RECOMMENDED: The New York guide to life

1. We jaywalk with the speed, dexterity and acumen of Frogger. People in other cities actually wait for the light to change. Insanity.

2. Coexisting with famous people. That movie star on the street, that comic in the noodle shop, that physicist on the subway, that actor on Grindr? We carry on around them like it's the everyday thing that it is.

3. Putting on stupidly, stupendously random events. Where else could you witness a Gumby poetry slam, burlesque game show or scientist speed-dating—while eating a free cookie?

4. Our dogs are small enough to squish in a bag and cool enough to not go bark-crazy on the subway/in your bike basket/at the coffeeshop.

5. Coffee. Any song with coffee in it, any movie, hell, any coffee thought—it's set in New York. Trust us.

6. Our zoning-out skills are unsurpassed. Only New Yorkers can read a book with their undivided attention while simultaneously being squished up against someone's armpit on the subway.

7. Getting free books. Because they're in piles on every block.

8. We order our food with the efficiency of steely-eyed ninjas: "No. 7, hold the sprinkles, add a pickle, sauce on the side."

9. Expressing city pride (read: being snobs about it). To a point of getting into arguments with people who dare do the whole NYC-versus-L.A. thing as if it’s a contest or those who say it's dirty (whatever, man) or just don't get the appeal (we can't help you, buddy).

10. We nurture niche music scenes. Whatever tickles your fancy—indie rock to Indian classical, Balkan to bluegrass, chamber music to chiptune—you can find a dedicated community somewhere within the five boroughs (with a specialty venue and record store, too).

11. Um, brunch.

12. We treat our authors like celebrities, lining up to see them and, yes, gossiping when literary power couples split up (RIP, Nicole Krauss and Jonathan Safran Foer's love).

13. No one rocks an all-black outfit like a New Yorker.

14. Bitching about the weather. Why? Because we have the greatest reason to, with all those acutely expressed seasons and having to walk through them.

15. Eating adventurously. You won't find a New Yorker saying, "Yeah, I'm just a meat-and-potatoes kind of person."

16. Kvetching. We're world-champion whiners—about everything from serious municipal shortcomings to Park Slope ice cream vendors. Stoic urban resolve? Save that for places like London and Seattle.

17. We're also better at being legitimately friendly and helpful. Other parts of the country may seem nicer (Southern hospitality, laid-back L.A.-ness), but once you get past our gruff exterior (we're busy, people!), we're the nicest folks around. Need directions? Just ask. Want to know if that dress you're trying on looks good on you? You look wonderful, glad to help.

18. Sleeping through noise. Yes, those are fluorescent earplugs. Your point is?

19. Revival cinema. Sure, other cities have their own great rep scenes. But it's a special thing about NYC—palaces of cinema like Film Forum are always packed, even on a Tuesday night.

20. Having the high/low look down pat. You know, like pairing a Comme des Garçons tee you found on major sale paired with recycled Levi's, old Chanel sandals you stole from your mom and a vintage necklace you found around the corner.

21. Bullshit detecting. Scammers abound in this city, and we can smell them from a mile away.

22. Drinking booze. Our livers are made of steel, our resolve is made of, uh, cardboard.

23. Knowing how to distinguish a good bagel from a bad one (which means we pretty much can't eat them anywhere but here).

24. We're good at keeping history alive. Sometimes that takes the form of nostalgia and/or bitching about how much better things used to be, but it's all from the same impulse to keep living in greatness—from the Algonquin Round Table to CBGB.

25. Carrying things in adverse circumstances. Show us a massive bag of groceries and a five-floor walk-up, and we'll show you our powerful thighs, dammit!

26. Giving exact, accurate directions (or faking it well).

27. Tolerance. New Yorkers patiently coexist with the smell of pissy streets, the noise of the BQE, alternate-side parking and daily rat sightings. No wonder we're the most progressive, liberal-minded state in the country.

28. Calculating the tip for delivery/taxi rides/restaurant checks. Our eyes glaze over for a millisecond while we make our calculations like Supergirl, and then boom: perfect tip math.

29. Pizza. New Yorkers have the best of both worlds: the highbrow pie (we’re looking at you, Lucali's) and the dollar slice. Mmm, the sweet dollar slice…

30. Spending absurd amounts of money on everyday things. Every day.

31. Making the most of ridiculously small spaces. You know that "bedroom" that barely fits your queen-size bed? We can make that tiny nook a stylish, magazine-spread-worthy paradise. 

32. It's accepted (nay, encouraged!) for us to be party-hungry children. Why else would the bars stay open until 4am? Other cities send their drink-lovin' citizens home at 1 or 2 in the morning (we're looking at you, Boston), but we'll sleep when we're dead.

33. Making lists of things we do better than anyone else.


Ashley E
Ashley E

You forgot one: New Yorkers will go out at 11 at night in their pajamas and curlers to buy a gallon of milk


We also will school visitors creating traffic hazards who curse at us like sailors (too often women in helium/nasal voices) about how rude we are for bringing it to their attention how rude they are.

Elizabeth P
Elizabeth P

26?????? My auntie! I've never once gotten reasonably accurate directions from a native New Yorker and I've been here for 18 years. If someone gives you directions that make sense and get you where you're going, that person is obviously a transplant.

Ian H
Ian H

Most of them apply to many big cities. Clearly number 1 should be having no awareness of any city but New York.

Natalie L
Natalie L

5 = FALSE. You can't boast about "your" roasts if they're shipped from someplace else.

Ron S
Ron S

This article gave me a stomach ache........especially #1............. Tell this to the fools who were run down because they thought it would be sheak to jaywalk..............Ugly culture..  Just sayin'

Julia T
Julia T

Yep, couldn't be more true. I am officially a New Yorker. It takes a strong person to survive in this city!

Louise W
Louise W

Is that ham? On the cream cheese? On the bagel? A shande!

Rob P
Rob P

I'm moving to NYC from LA soon. This article made me :D