50 reasons why NYC is the greatest city in the world

From the grid and the skyline to New Yorkers' long life expectancy, here are 50 facts that prove living in NYC is better than living anywhere else.

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  • Why NYC is the greatest city in the world

    Because we have the most iconic skyline

  • Photograph: Museum of the City of New York

    Why NYC is the greatest city in the world

    Because of Manhattan’s grid

  • Photograph: Filip Wolak

    Why NYC is the greatest city in the world

    Because our bars are open until 4am

  • Photograph: Krista Schlueter

    Why NYC is the greatest city in the world

    Because the Manhattan cocktail was invented here, and we’d like to see someone try to make it better than we do

  • Why NYC is the greatest city in the world

    Because New Yorkers live longer than anyone else

  • Why NYC is the greatest city in the world

    Because, believe it or not, you can still find a rent-stabilized apartment in NYC

  • Why NYC is the greatest city in the world

    Because we invented hip-hop and still do it better than any other city

  • Photograph: Grace Chu

    Why NYC is the greatest city in the world

    Because our LGBT scene is actually an LGBT scene

  • Why NYC is the greatest city in the world

    Because bands blow up after playing here

  • Photograph: Joan Marcus

    Why NYC is the greatest city in the world

    Because New York is the home of the musical—which we still do better than anyone else in the world

Why NYC is the greatest city in the world

Because we have the most iconic skyline

Narrowing down to 50 the reasons we love New York City was a difficult task—inevitably, some of the things that make Gotham great were left out. But here you’ll find a curated list of facts that prove NYC’s civic superiority, spanning everything from our superlative pizza and our expansive arts and culture scene to our place in history as an incubator of innovation, be it architectural, technological or sartorial.


Written by Sarah Bruning, Andrew Frisicano, Ethan LaCroix, Tim Lowery, Marley Lynch, Amy Plitt, Jenna Scherer, Jonathan Shannon and Allison Williams


1
New York City Manhattan midtown aerial panorama view with skyscrapers and blue sky in the day.

Because we have the most iconic skyline

New York may not be the birthplace of the skyscraper—Chicago holds that distinction—or even home to the world’s craziest super tall buildings. No matter: When people talk about skylines, we bet that midtown Manhattan—home to the cloud-piercing spires of the Empire State and Chrysler Buildings—is what they’re imagining. Other noteworthy structures, including the Woolworth Building and the Twin Towers (whose absence is being filled by  the rising One World Trade Center), helped cement Manhattan’s skyscraper supremacy throughout the 20th century. And not only do we have an entire institution—the Skyscraper Museum—devoted to tall towers, but Gotham is also the birthplace of the word skyscraper. Take that, Chicago.

2
Columbus Circle, September 16, 1892

Because of Manhattan’s grid

The Commissioners’ Plan of 1811, which proposed NYC’s pattern of numbered avenues and streets, led to many changes: Real estate began to be packaged in easy-to-sell units, fueling the city’s development; eminent domain was established as a tool for grand projects (um, yay?); and Manhattan became easy enough for any mouth breather to navigate. But more than that, the grid amplifies and feeds the relentless pace of life here. In a 2012 interview, legendary street photographer Joel Meyerowitz said that Manhattan’s streets “run for miles straight ahead, and so the energy on the street is funneled this way. And when you participate in that, you become part of the energetic dimension of life on the streets.” If antiquated cities like London and Paris are for meandering, then New York is for purposefully charging forward.

3

Because our bars are open until 4am

When do your watering holes close again, London? What’s that? We couldn’t hear you. Oh, 11pm?!? Bloody hell! (Okay, fine, some pubs are open until 1am. Still.) Not that we necessarily condone drinking in the wee hours—or telling anyone about doing so; that’s too much bro bragging for our tastes—but there’s something oddly comforting about knowing that you can do just that on weekends. Typically, American cities (Chicago, for example) are peppered with a few places for the post-2am crowd—which are almost impossible to get into after regular joints’ last call. In the world’s greatest city, however, late-night spots are the rule, not the exception, which means that an array of choices—hookup spots, dives, and bars for both cocktail and beer snobs—are waiting for you come 3am.

4
Flatiron Lounge

Because the Manhattan cocktail was invented here, and we’d like to see someone try to make it better than we do

New York is the birthplace of many a great concoction, including the iconic, rye-whiskey-based tipple. Legend has it that the drink was created by Dr. Ian Marshall in 1874 for an event at the Manhattan Club (hence the name), though some liquor historians claim that it was actually the handiwork of a bartender nicknamed Black, who worked at a Soho lounge. Regardless of the origins, this cocktail is replicated in countless watering holes across the world, but there’s no better place to enjoy it than its hometown. You can find top-notch versions at Milk and Honey and the Flatiron Lounge.

5
Susannah Mushatt Jones

Because New Yorkers live longer than almost anyone else

The third oldest person in the country is Susannah Mushatt Jones, a 113-year-old New York City woman who was born in the 19th century and has seen MTA fares rise from a nickel. This proves that city life isn’t just better, it’s lengthier: NYC residents live about two years longer than the national average. In 2010, a New Yorker’s life expectancy at birth topped out at 80.9 years. Maybe it’s that after surviving the job hunt, the apartment search and calorie-count menus, the rest seems easy. (That we walk more than other Americans and eat fewer trans fats also probably helps.) To quote Dorothy Parker, “As only New Yorkers know, if you can get through the twilight, you’ll live through the night.” And she died at the ripe old age of 73, despite drinking like a fish.

6
Fort Greene Brownstones

Because, believe it or not, you can still find a rent-stabilized apartment in NYC

Yes, the holy grail of urban real estate is indeed out there—for those intrepid enough to find it. According to the New York City Rent Guidelines Board, there are approximately 1 million (!) rent-stabilized living spaces in Gotham. Adopted in 1969, the city program was created to shield tenants from steep cost increases enacted by greedy landlords. And thanks to a 2011 state law, those lucky leasers are in safer waters than ever: A stabilized apartment’s monthly rent has to climb higher than $2,500 before it can be deregulated. (As for those stories of crazy-rich renters with super cheap spaces, they’re largely bunk: A recent New York Times piece reported that the median income for tenants in rent-stabilized apartments is $36,000.) So don’t lose hope, home hunter; the rent isn’t always too damn high.

7
Run DMC

Because we invented hip-hop and still do it better than any other city

There’s no hip-hop hall of fame—not yet, anyway—but if you’re searching for rap’s birthplace, look no further than the rec room of 1520 Sedgwick Avenue, an unassuming Bronx apartment building close to the Major Deegan Expressway. That’s where Clive “DJ Kool Herc” Campbell and MC Coke La Rock first mashed up break beats and Jamaican-style toasting at a back-to-school shindig 40 years ago, inventing a genre that’s since come to dominate popular music. Rap’s evolution has taken place largely in the five boroughs, through the work of originators such as Grandmaster Flash and the Sugarhill Gang; golden-era masters like Big Daddy Kane, the Beastie Boys and Run-D.M.C.; and ’90s kingpins such as the Wu-Tang Clan, Nas and the Notorious B.I.G. (And let’s not forget Long Island–bred MCs like De La Soul, LL Cool J and Public Enemy.) Despite the rise of West Coast hip-hop and regional scenes throughout the South and Midwest, New York still dominates: Jay-Z, A$AP Rocky and Nicki Minaj continue to top charts, while up-and-comers such as Action Bronson and Joey Bada$$ line up to snatch the crown. View our list of the 50 greatest NYC hip-hop artists here.

8

Because our LGBT scene is actually an LGBT scene

Our mixed parties, such as Hey Queen!, Scissor Sundays and Rebel Cupcake, draw diverse crowds from all points on the gender and sexuality spectrums. Sure, there are still shindigs for specific scenes (glamour lesbians, bears)—as there should be—but in the wake of gay marriage, gay people all over TV and the like, NYC queers embrace and celebrate their outsider status as a diverse community.

9
Jon Klemm at Bowery Ballroom

Because bands blow up after playing here

It’s becoming an increasingly common tale: Scrappy outfit plays a tiny DIY space in Williamsburg; that same now-buzzed-about band returns months later and sells out a much bigger venue in town. Just look at U.K. postpunk sensations Savages, who graced Bowery Ballroom having made their U.S. debut at Glasslands. So why does this happen more here than anywhere else? It could be the large contingent of press and industry people at shows. Or that NYC is typically the first stateside stop for a budding foreign rock band. And the CMJ Music festival, held each October in downtown Manhattan and Brooklyn, certainly doesn’t hurt. But the fact remains that as much as this is an incredibly tough town to be a musician in, it’s the best place to see one—any night of the week offers the possibility of peeping the next bbig thing on a tiny stage.

10

Because New York is the home of the musical—which we still do better than anyone else in the world

The song-and-dance show has come a long way since The Black Crook, a five-and-a-half-hour-long pageant considered to be the world’s first musical, took primordial Broadway by storm in 1866. In the intervening century and a half, New York City has more than earned its name as not just as musical theater’s birthplace, but the spot where it’s done better than anywhere around the globe. Sure, the spectacle-drenched tuners of London’s West End (Les Misérables and The Phantom of the Opera) get exported to our shores. But many of the most innovative, memorable musicals of our time came to maturity on the Great White Way, from the golden age of Rodgers and Hammerstein and the rise of Sondheim to the unorthodox, form-reinventing hits of the past decade like Avenue Q, Spring Awakening and The Book of Mormon. Many of shows, such as Wicked, are now performed internationally, but Broadway is still the mecca for bright-eyed hoofers, who flock here like moths to a lit-up marquee.


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Users say

39 comments
Ellen H
Ellen H

51. Because of it's proxomity to New Jersey.

Liza L
Liza L

okay, read it all. have to say its a bunch of lies. especially for musicians. i found the songwriters playing out to be pretentious unreal garbage. i've met better musicians in FL and nashville. ny water is harsh and ruined my hair. it is a stressful over glorified garbage dump. leaving that place is the best thing i ever did. 

James B
James B

Im sorry as great as NYC is and it is GREAT, it isn't a patch on london

Jtime
Jtime

You forgot, no one brags more than a New Yorker. I lived there for 12 years. Half of my friends fall into the category that they dont have the job flexibility or financial freedom to leave so they are better off telling themselves its the greatest place on earth, while the other half has snapped out of their nostalgic, nyc trance and struggle to save enough money to leave. There are counter arguments to all 50 of these "we're better than you points".

ck
ck

Reading this is breaking my heart. I live and work in Toronto, and I love it, but the idea of New York is never far from my mind. For a person who feels most comfortable in the largest urban settings, it's the promised land. 26 isn't as old as it seems, but I feel like my window of opportunity to make the move down there is nearly closed. So many of my friends have already made it. What'll I do if I'm stuck here forever? Ugh. New York I love you and we've barely ever met

YesterdaysWine
YesterdaysWine

Because you can just walk around and be endlessly entertained. When I was young and broke back in the 70s, I would go on walking dates with girls. Young, alive and just looking at the people and places. Wonderful.

Brian
Brian

I wish I could move to New York. I am only 12 and live in Florida. I hate Florida and would move to almost any other state if I could.

bernice
bernice

I can think of 100 reasons why nyc sucks!

Kathleen
Kathleen

I loved this article. Sometimes we need a reminder of why we love this hard, hectic city. I learned about some new places that I want to try out, too. The comments of the offended tourists are just the icing on the cake. ;)

Karen
Karen

Show me a town where people are not only rude but think its ok to be rude because they are in New York and ill show you an awful place! I went to NYC for the first time last week and I was beyond excited But I realized its all false. I was shocked at how incredibly rude, self centered and opportunistic people were. Most people have a " all about me and what I want no matter who I step on mentality" and worse they think its ok. Transportation was also incredibly gross with subways and traffic! Keep your skylines! It was a city of ego in my opinion. I don't care how many bright lights, billboards or musicals you have, if New Yorkers think its justified to be rude or unkind then that makes it the worst city in the world! I was very disappointed! Just media advertisement that its a good place! I feel bad for New Yorkers they don't realize how bad they have it!

whatever
whatever

Where can I go water skiing in NYC please. Also, if I just want to go for a swim or surf or snowboard, where can I do that i NYC within 30 minutes. oh.... its' only city lifestyle things. so.... that means that the world's greatest city is only great if you want to be entertained. If you want to entertain yourself with natural lifestyle and beauty then it's not so good right ? I live in a medium sized city not in the USA so you would never have heard of it (lol) and i can walk to the end of the block and drink with friends on the beach in the evening watching the sunset with the clean sea breeze blowing softly over turquoise water, go surfing wearing only shorts and I do not have to drive to get there... etc It is the place people dream of living when they are spacing out in the cue yet again which is in line for another cue in an over populated concrete mess.

baller
baller

LOL is that the best you can do? Every 'reason' on your list is either bogus or a just plain wrong. I can hear the echo from the bottom of that barrel new york, you've taken scraping to new depths...

Rebecca
Rebecca

There are times when I loathe NYC but every time I visit a new city, I realize that THIS is truley the best city in the United States BY FAR. In the world though? It's a strong contender, but I am still holding out for that one.

Kate P
Kate P

#51: Because you can get anything delivered!!!

Reality guy
Reality guy

Haters gonna hate....NYC and SF are the two best American cities.

ThatchersDead
ThatchersDead

Manchester, fraction of the size of almost all western Cities, only been around for about 150 years, yet has contributed more to mankind than anywhere except possibly Athens. Industrialisation, socialism, the computer, bouncing bomb, split the atom, and then gave the world The Fall, The Smiths, Joy Division, Oasis, Stone Roses, Happy Mondays and many more.

Tom
Tom

Yes! And there's no crack-heads or winos. There's no ghettos or poverty. NY taxi drivers are the most polite people in the world. No one has ever had abuse screamed at them by random strangers. If an old man falls over in the street, people rush to help him. It has the lowest suicide rate of any city in history. Everyone in New York is well-educated and tolerant. There was once a mugging in 1962, but it turned out to be a misunderstanding...

abdelrahman saad
abdelrahman saad

Because it has so much diversity more than any where in the world!!

JB
JB

How many more Dunkin' Donuts, Subways and 7-Elevens opened while you were composing this list? The soul of this city is gone. I still love it, but I'm disheartened.

AAK
AAK

London bars close at 11pm? since when the 90's? 24hour drink licence exists there. You have been going to some old geezer pubs cause most bars close at 3 or 4am especially weekends and if busy will stay open a bit after that without fear of fines and being shut down. Oh there are also all night bars around the city which are legal good luck finding that in NYC.

AAK
AAK

London bars close at 11pm? since when the 90's? 24hour drink licence exists there. You have been going to some old geezer pubs cause most bars close at 3 or 4am especially weekends and if busy will stay open a bit after that without fear of fines and being shut down. Oh there are also all night bars around the city which are legal good luck finding that in NYC.

AAK
AAK

Bit of a lie there on the most linguistically diverse city.. again London tops that. This article has to be the biggest waste of time. Did George W. Bush write this?

George Hanes
George Hanes

#44 Try the Roebling Suspension Bridge crossing the Ohio River @ Cincinnati, OH which predates the Brooklyn Bridge by 17 years!

George Hanes
George Hanes

#44 BS, try the Roebling suspension bridge in Cincinnati, OH predates the Brooklyn Bridge by 17 years!

Kate
Kate

@jerry: agreed, #6 is BS! For that matter, #5 is likely BS too. I guarantee the life expectancy will start to drop as the current 20-30-somethings grow old, as none of us are able to land rent-stabilized apartments. The current crop of seniors have little to stress about as far as rent goes, as many or most of them are in huge rent stabilized apartments and don't have that stress in their lives. Low stress=longer lifespan. No one who is currently 30 or below will have that luxury unless legislation changes, so we will have LOTS to stress about or will have to leave the city--heck, if we can even afford to stay in the city until we get old.

maya
maya

I wish we could say: we are the cleanest city, we recycle more than anyone else, our Green IQ is high and we care about planet and we are not creating so much landfills...but unfortunately this is the dirtiest city in the US!! Timeout London has every right to say: look london subway has not trash can yet you don't see people trashing it! its time to change New York, let's keep this city clean just like our home! we live here, then lets treat it that way with.

maria
maria

Number one should be THE NEW YORK YANKEES!

jerry
jerry

#6 is pure BULLSHIT !!!

Brian
Brian

Most are true except the 24/7 city. Not everything is open past 9pm in NYC except maybe bars and restaurants (sort of). Most retail close earlier than Seoul

Liza L
Liza L

@Jtime i totally agree with you. its a phony bravado meant to congratulate themselves on 'surviving'..just a bunch of hype.

SAM D
SAM D

@Karen Sigh.. I understand exactly what you are referring to. Here's the thing though, it is highly unlikely any of those people are even from Manhattan. 


I've had the fortune of experiencing what I believe to be the absolute best that NY has ever had to offer. 


Sadly, "Sex & The City" and Mayor Giuliani helped to extinguish the last bit of authenticity the city had.


"Sex & The City" lured every single female under the age of 45 to NY. These young girls saw Carrie Bradshaw elbowing her way through crowds and nightclubs, and they modeled her behavior. That element  never existed before that show (and I have spent many, many years on that island). In fact, this kind of self-centeredness has changed the dynamic of the whole city. 


Smarterchild1998 sums it up well: 


http://thoughtcatalog.com/timmy-parker/2013/10/30-people-on-what-annoys-them-about-new-yorkers/


After 47 years, I moved temporarily to the west coast and am loving it. Los Angeles and Las Vegas with their "old school signs" and budding fashion and art scenes.  I was back in NY recently, it's the city of continual change, some things get better, some get worse. There is nowhere in the world like it but the best of its' nightlife and music is behind it for now.


There are a lot of "blanket statements" being made here. 


Liza spending 3 years in NY will have no clue what the real NY is. It's not possible to "find all one's people" in a short 3 years, nor is it possible to be right and accurate about people from Manhattan when one is spending time with transplants that have been in NY for several years and consider themselves NY'ers.


I could go in to some real depth on this as it is a topic I am passionate about. Honestly, I should be focusing on work - So, to that end.. Know that this native Manhattanite does her best to be kind, considerate, and walk with dignity and grace.


..wondering if the person who wrote the article is from Manhattan.. lol

Liza L
Liza L

@Karen you're smart karen. i was there three years and it took me that long to figure out how fake it was. its a very superficial phony environment of social climbers. not what the movies tell u at all..

SAM D
SAM D

@whatever I actually went water skiing in some body of water in Brooklyn or Queens somewhere - Closer to the city, farther from the beach - Weird. Surprised I have not grown a 3rd arm.


Carl G
Carl G

@AAK i think the main point remains to be that no fact will convince us otherwise.