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.

0

Comments

Add +
  • Photograph: Joseph Moran

    Why NYC is the greatest city in the world

    Because in the summer, you can see tons of world-class music and performance art without spending a dime

  • Photograph: Jena Cumbo

    Why NYC is the greatest city in the world

    Because of bodega cats

  • Photograph: Eric H. Brown

    Why NYC is the greatest city in the world

    Because it’s impossible to feel nerdy here

  • Photograph: David Rosenzweig

    Why NYC is the greatest city in the world

    Because unlike other metros, our subway runs 24/7

  • Why NYC is the greatest city in the world

    Because even though some cities claim to have better coffee, New York has the most coffee

  • Illustration: Giuseppe Paolo

    Why NYC is the greatest city in the world

    Because NYC is one of the most linguistically diverse cities in the world—and we’re working to keep it that way

  • Why NYC is the greatest city in the world

    Because space constraints mean we get creative with our cultural hot spots

  • Photograph: Lizz Kuehl

    Why NYC is the greatest city in the world

    Because you can eat pretty much anything at any time

  • Why NYC is the greatest city in the world

    Because NYC inspired Bob Dylan—and some downtown movement called punk

  • Why NYC is the greatest city in the world

    Because Sesame Street was invented and takes place here

Photograph: Joseph Moran

Why NYC is the greatest city in the world

Because in the summer, you can see tons of world-class music and performance art without spending a dime

11
shakeseapre in the park, central park, Delacorte theater

Because in the summer, you can see tons of world-class music and performance art without spending a dime

Come T-shirt weather, New York positively explodes with free cultural fests. Among the multitude of offerings, you’ve got the River to River Festival, featuring a huge variety of art, theater, dance and music along the lower Manhattan waterfront; Lincoln Center Out of Doors, which transforms the entire campus of the venerable cultural institution into a performance space; and the City Parks Foundation’s SummerStage, which presents stellar free concerts and more at green spaces citywide, with offerings ranging from Wilco to the Metropolitan Opera. The Public Theater’s much-loved Shakespeare in the Park series mounts a pair of performances in Central Park each summer, attracting big names from Broadway, Hollywood and beyond to tread the boards. You can also catch free film screenings in Bryant Park and Central Park, and for lit fans, open-air readings from prominent authors via Books Beneath the Bridge at Brooklyn Bridge Park. Our advice: Bring sunscreen and an open mind.

12
Bodega Cat

Because of bodega cats

Yes, many cities allow fluffy creatures to hunker down in shops and other venues—we’ll admit to being jealous of Japan’s cat cafés—but New York’s bodega cats are an altogether scrappier, more interesting breed of feline. Typically kept on the premises for the purpose of rodent control, these corner-store kitties have inspired all manner of tributes, including several blogs and a short documentary. But what makes them so beloved? Like knowing the best time to visit your regular watering hole, or having the scoop on the cheapest laundromat near your apartment, knowing your local bodega cat is another way to show your NYC bona fides. It’s a point of pride for New Yorkers to know their neighborhood’s quirks, and bodega cats fall squarely—and adorably—under that description.

13

Because it’s impossible to feel nerdy here

“I’d rather be nine people’s favorite thing than 100 people’s ninth favorite thing,” goes a lyric in the Off Broadway musical [title of show]. And while we couldn’t agree more with the song’s message—that truly great artistic efforts tend to be divisive—thinking up one movie, song, play, technological finding or whathaveyou that doesn’t have a fervent fan base in NYC seems pretty…impossible. Like David Lynch? Bashes and even burlesque shows celebrating the man’s work have happened at Le Poisson Rouge and Parkside Lounge. How about astrophysics and ’90s Disney musicals? The Bell House in Gowanus hosts boozy fetes for both. Are you a cult-film buff? Spend hours sifting through the selection (organized by auteur and country!) at Kim’s Video. Only use vintage fabrics to make your clothes? Too many stores to count have you covered. The point is that you’re in New York, not high school: Obsessions of all sorts are embraced.

14
149 St Subway

Because unlike other metros, our subway runs 24/7

It’s fitting that in the city that never sleeps, the subway doesn’t either. Tokyo’s trains pull a Cinderella, conking out a little after midnight. In London, the Tube calls it quits between midnight and 12:30am, while Paris’s Metro manages to hold out until a relatively late 1:15am on most nights (2:15am on Fridays, Saturdays and holidays). What’s more, our setup has the most stations (a whopping 468) of any public transportation scheme, as well as the largest amount of track (660 miles dedicated to passenger transport). We’re also the only city with a “love conductor,” Erika Christensen, who plays matchmaker for straphangers throughout the boroughs. So not only is our underground transit system bigger and better, it’s also more romantic.

15
Bluebottle coffee

Because even though some cities claim to have better coffee, New York has the most coffee

There is no shortage of ways for New Yorkers to get a cup of joe: Outdoor carts hawk highly caffeinated and overboiled mud in iconic Anthora containers; sit-down establishments brew cups to order from a $16,000 Japanese siphon machine (see Blue Bottle’s Chelsea shop for this experience); and there are more than 250 Starbucks outposts throughout the five boroughs. And while Chicago and Portland, Oregon may have birthed great roasters like Intelligentsia and Stumptown, Gotham trumps all in terms of sheer number of places where you can sate your coffee craving.

16

Because NYC is one of the most linguistically diverse cities in the world—and we’re working to keep it that way

We’ve forgotten more languages than other cities have even heard of, since as many as 800 tongues are spoken in the five boroughs. There’s even an Endangered Language Alliance, founded by professors from CUNY, NYU and Columbia to preserve the fragile Garifuna, Mamuju and Nahuatl languages. Just how rich is the city’s oral tradition? Experts think there is more Bukhari spoken here than in its home countries of Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. Census takers found that a whopping 49 percent of New Yorkers speak something besides English at home—mostly Spanish, but also French Creole, Armenian, or Yiddish. It only took one Hurricane Sandy to make a superstar of one of the city’s many multilingualists, Lydia Callis; the effusive sign-language interpreter instantly put Mayor Bloomberg’s woeful Spanish to shame.

17
Transit Museum

Because space constraints mean we get creative with our cultural hot spots

Iconic institutions like the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the American Museum of Natural History are lovely, but going to one doesn’t necessarily feel like discovering something odd or special. But a museum located in a former subway station, or one in a elevator? That’s pretty unique. And those examples aren’t hypothetical: The New York Transit Museum opened in 1976 in an out-of-commission IND station, and just last year, the itty-bitty Museum—which bills itself as the smallest such institution in the city—debuted in a Tribeca freight elevator. Thanks to the city’s general sense of crammed-in-ness, planners often seek innovative solutions, reclaiming disused or run-down spaces and transforming them into cultural-landscape enrichments. Socrates Sculpture Park, for example, opened atop a former garbage dump in Long Island City, while one of the city’s most ambitious projects—the development of Freshkills Park—will turn what was once the world’s largest landfill into NYC’s largest green space.

18
Veselka

Because you can eat pretty much anything at any time

In a metropolis with 7,966 sit-down restaurants, countless mom-and-pop takeout shops and hundreds of food trucks, it’s no surprise that New Yorkers have access to just about any edible they want, whenever the whim strikes. Late-night or early-morning options in most other towns are limited to whatever’s on the menu at 24-hour diners or fast-food drive-throughs, but our round-the-clock culinary clout extends far beyond rubbery omelettes and greasy, overcooked french fries. If you’re craving lamb and rice at 2am, you can hit the Halal Guys on 53rd Street and Sixth Avenue—or any of the other street vendors who soldier on through the wee hours. When you need your pierogi fix at 4am, hightail it to Veselka for six different varieties of the Eastern European dumplings. Jonesing for pastrami at 3pm? Stop by Katz’s or the 2nd Ave Deli. And for those times when you’re too tired, cold or hungover to venture out, you can dial up one of the 9,056 places that deliver—and that’s just on MenuPages—while laughing at the comparatively few choices in Washington, D.C. (749), Chicago (1,676) and L.A. (1,693).

19
Lou Reed, Sterling Morrison, Nico, Ari, Moe Tucker, John Cale, The Factory

Because NYC inspired Bob Dylan—and some downtown movement called punk

There are too many great songs and albums written about New York to list here (we dedicated a whole cover story to that very subject last year, remember?), but here’s a CliffsNotesian rundown of a few seminal moments in Gotham’s musical history—all rooted below 14th Street: Bob Dylan arrived in the Village in 1961 and eventually became the face of folk music—only to smash that legacy by going electric on three locally recorded albums (Bringing It All Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited and Blonde on Blonde). That three-album run is perhaps the most fruitful of all time (all three were recorded within just over a year—talk about a New York work ethic) and, you know, changed music forever. That same year (1966), the Velvet Underground gigged in the East Village, are billed as part of Andy Warhol’s traveling Exploding Plastic Inevitable shindig, and created cacophonous, exhilarating and distinctly New York music that nobody knew what to make of. A decade later, carrying the primitive torch handed down by the Velvets, punk blew up on the Lower East Side and across the pond (although our bands were clearly better), with back-to-basics rock & roll (the Ramones) and envelope-pushing minimalism (Suicide) acting as much-needed antidotes to the guitar-god-dominated rock culture.

20
Elmo

Because Sesame Street was invented and takes place here

It’s unclear exactly which Manhattan nabe inspired the setting for the greatest kids’ TV show ever—people involved with the program have claimed the Upper West Side and Alphabet City. Nevertheless, the 44-year-old series couldn’t be based anywhere else, with Gotham touches like brownstone steps, a subway, wildly diverse residents, a newsstand and even a bodega popping up throughout the show. Sesame acted as a career launchpad for Jim Henson and has remained clever, pop-culturally savvy (Robert De Niro, Paul Simon, Richard Pryor, Feist, Amy Poehler and Seth Rogen have all put in guest appearances) and, above all, educational since debuting in the late ’60s.



Users say

43 comments
Karen M
Karen M

NYC can't be the greatest city because Chicago holds that spot, always has, always will.

Leandro V
Leandro V

People think they are going to come and encounter what they see in movies, but the reality is, that ppl.are bitter tired and beat from life and work here. Comr for urself and see it it's gross.

Leandro V
Leandro V

New York is a piece of shit, the food sucks bunch of stuck up hipsters everywhere, the summers are way too hot and the winters depressing and painful. Ppl like to say it awesome just to sound cool. Everything is expensive and ppl live in their own world idea that they are the shit. Yeah new york is ghetto and im.a new yorker. I bet the writers of this post are not even from ny, and just moved in to the city, let them b here for 20 years and they will see how much it sucks. All u do is work to survive. So anyhow I can day it awesome to visit for vacation but not to live.

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.

aurelia o
aurelia o

@SAM D How to find effectively a job for an older people in NY?