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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  • Photograph: Virginia Rollison

    Why NYC is the greatest city in the world

    Because there’s room for innovation and tradition to coexist

  • Photograph: Krista Schlueter

    Why NYC is the greatest city in the world

    Because the power of our pizza draws in thousands—including former heads of state—to sample both classic and innovative pies

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    Why NYC is the greatest city in the world

    Because, for as little as $50, you can own a piece of New York City. Sort of

  • Photograph: Francine Daveta

    Why NYC is the greatest city in the world

    Because you can see A-list comics for cheap in intimate spaces nearly every night of the week

  • Why NYC is the greatest city in the world

    Our warhorses take a licking and keep on ticking

  • Photograph: Kathryn Kirk

    Why NYC is the greatest city in the world

    Because we have both a publishing capital (Manhattan) and a writers’ residential capital (Brooklyn)

  • Photograph: Lance Edmonds

    Why NYC is the greatest city in the world

    Because the city is in the throes of an independent-bookstore renaissance

  • Photograph: Everett Collection / Rex USA

    Why NYC is the greatest city in the world

    Because, for most New Yorkers, Jean-Luc Picard is just another dude who lives in Park Slope

  • Why NYC is the greatest city in the world

    Because New York City is responsible for some of the world’s most useful—and, okay, frivolous—inventions

  • Photograph: Ilenia Martini

    Why NYC is the greatest city in the world

    Because other cities often copy projects that started or were perfected here—look at the High Line

Photograph: Virginia Rollison

Why NYC is the greatest city in the world

Because there’s room for innovation and tradition to coexist

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The Donut Pub

Because there’s room for innovation and tradition to coexist

New Yorkers respect the newest new just as much as the tried and true; for example, there’s enough room here for $3.50 tres leches treats at Doughnut Plant and $1.10 old-fashioneds at Donut Pub. If anything, New Yorkers have a hunger to see which city innovations can hang around long enough to become tradition: which newfangled dish will become the next menu staple (like eggs Benedict, invented in NYC), or which nascent musicians will spark the next big genre shift. But in a city that has seen plenty of standbys disappear from the landscape—everything from Shoot the Freak to Filene’s Basement to the Twin Towers—we know that, as much as it’s important to embrace the new, it’s equally important to not take the classics for granted.

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Roberta's

Because the power of our pizza draws in thousands—including former heads of state—to sample both classic and innovative pies

One of the few things uniting hapless tourists and die-hard locals is an appreciation for the peerless New York slice: the scorched, thin crust; the heavy mantle of tomato sauce; and the molten blanket of creamy mozzarella. The handheld meal became legendary after Gennaro Lombardi obtained the first U.S. pizzeria license in 1905 for his Spring Street grocery store. Since then, countless imitators—along with Lombardi’s disciples John Sasso (John’s), Patsy Lancieri (Patsy’s) and Antonio Pero (Totonno’s)—have served pies to the masses. Recently, new-breed pizzaioli have created modern iterations, with spots like PeteZaaz, Franny’s and Roberta’s bringing quirky toppings and locally sourced ingredients to far-flung locales like Crown Heights and Bushwick. (Bill and Hillary Clinton even gave Roberta’s their stamp of approval last year.) In a city whose very fabric is made of novelty and dynamism, we can’t even predict what tomorrow’s slice will look like.

23
NYC Panorama at the Queens Museum of Art

Because, for as little as $50, you can own a piece of New York City. Sort of.

We have to give Robert Moses some credit: As the driving force behind the 1964 World’s Fair, the controversial figure was, in some way, responsible for the creation of a number of New York City landmarks, including Shea Stadium (RIP) and the iconic Unisphere. But our favorite relic of that grand affair is The Panorama of the City of New York, the 9,335-square-foot scale replica of the five boroughs. Permanently located in the Queens Museum of Art, the breathtaking attraction features approximately 895,000 NYC structures—including the Empire State Building, Central Park and the Brooklyn Bridge—and new models that are added periodically (Brooklyn Bridge Park was the most recent, in 2012). In 2009, the QMA launched the Adopt-a-Building program as a way to help offset maintenance costs for the attraction: You can stick your name on your old apartment for $50, or shell out $2,500 to claim a whole neighborhood or park. (Hey, it’s cheaper than buying a real apartment.)

24

Because you can see A-list comics for cheap in intimate spaces nearly every night of the week

Recently, Chris Rock and Dave Chappelle caused a stir by performing an impromptu, nearly hour-long set together at the Comedy Cellar. It’s not the first time the iconic West Village club has been unexpectedly visited by big-name stars: Louis CK and Jerry Seinfeld are among the comedians who occasionally drop by to perform in the intimate space. The best part? These drop-ins often happen during the weekly shows (Rock and Chappelle showed up on a Tuesday night), where the cover charge is only $12–$14. (L.A.’s Comedy Store has a similar setup and prestige, but shows are slightly more expensive.) Plus, between the two Upright Citizens Brigade outposts and a network of well-regarded indie theaters and bars that host shows in Brooklyn and Queens, you never know when you’ll see one of the stars of The Office, Parks and Recreation or Saturday Night Live for next to nothing.

25
The Grand Central Oyster Bar

Our warhorses take a licking and keep on ticking

New Yorkers are a notoriously tough bunch; the same goes for many of Gotham’s monuments and iconic venues. To wit: The Grand Central Oyster Bar, which opened a century ago in February 1913, went bankrupt in ’72 and burned down in ’97, but it still thrives today, selling 5 million bivalves each year. The iconic Central Park eatery Tavern on the Green embodies the city’s fighting spirit too. Built on the site of a sheepfold, controversial Parks commissioner Robert Moses ordered the landmark restaurant’s construction in 1934. It shuttered for the first time in 1974, was acquired and renovated by local businessman Warner LeRoy that same year, and reopened in 1976. When LeRoy’s lease ended in December 2009, the venue went dark once again and pieces of its elaborate decor were auctioned off. In August 2012, Philly-based restaurateurs Jim Caiola and David Salama won a competitive bidding war to revamp the space, with a tentative opening set for this fall. We love Frank Sinatra and Jay-Z’s NYC anthems, but maybe we should throw Chumbawamba’s “Tubthumping” into the mix.

26
Brooklyn Book Festival

Because we have both a publishing capital (Manhattan) and a writers’ residential capital (Brooklyn)

There’s a reason aspiring writers still flock to New York in droves: The Big Six (soon to be Big Five) publishing houses—Simon & Schuster, Macmillan, HarperCollins, Hachette and the soon-to-be Penguin Random House—have headquarters in Manhattan, which means much of the industry is centered here. The borough is also home to many indie companies, including W.W. Norton, Perseus Books Publishing and New Directions, along with industry must-reads like Publishers Weekly and The New York Review of Books. But in the past few years, Brooklyn has also established its bona fides as a nucleus for book fiends. Kings County is home to small presses like Melville House and Akashic; journals like Vol. 1 Brooklyn, The Coffin Factory and n+1; and, increasingly, writers themselves, with Martin Amis, Jennifer Egan, Colson Whitehead, Jonathan Ames, Jhumpa Lahiri and countless others putting down roots in Brooklyn. You can see the borough’s lit community in action during the annual Brooklyn Book Festival, which has grown exponentially since its founding in 2006.

27
Greenlight Bookstore

Because the city is in the throes of an independent-bookstore renaissance

Between the demise of Borders in 2011 and the proliferation of e-readers, cultural trend predictors were poised to hammer nails into the printed word’s coffin. New York responded with a resounding eff-you in the form of an indie-bookseller scene that’s stronger than ever, with many ventures focused on—and sometimes funded by—the surrounding community. Just look at recent success stories, like Washington Heights’ initially temporary, volunteer-run Word Up, which became so popular that the store is reopening for good this spring on the strength of donations. LGBT-focused pop-up the Bureau of General Services–Queer Division recently announced an indefinite partnership with Strange Loop Gallery, and operates out of that space. Dumbo’s powerHouse Arena recently opened an outpost in Park Slope, and Greenpoint’s WORD is expanding to a second spot, in Jersey City. Plus, many shops—including Fort Greene’s Greenlight Bookstore, McNally Jackson and Housing Works in Soho, and Boerum Hill’s BookCourt—have thrived thanks to author readings, book clubs and lit-themed parties that bring book fiends together. Long story short: NYC is a bibliophile’s dream town.

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Mandatory Credit: Photo by Everett Collection / Rex USA (1101040q)Sir Patrick StewartMetropolitan Opera season opening night 'L'Elisir D'Amore', New York, America - 24 Sep 2012

Because, for most New Yorkers, Jean-Luc Picard is just another dude who lives in Park Slope

Unlike elsewhere, our A-listers don’t live in walled-off fortresses. Increasingly, they don’t even live in Manhattan: On any given day, famous folks like Patrick Stewart and Steve Buscemi can be found strolling through Park Slope, or complaining about the ’hood’s atrocious cable-and-Internet provider, as Stewart did on Twitter last September. Point being, for New Yorkers, celebrities are like tourists and crosswalk signals: We ignore them, and defiantly so. Ferris Bueller is just another guy in line at Dean & DeLuca, and Jack Donaghy is the dude who just stole our cab.

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Because New York City is responsible for some of the world’s most useful—and, okay, frivolous—inventions

Two words: Toilet. Paper. New Yorker Joseph Gayetty is responsible for creating a commercial version of the bathroom staple, and for that alone, NYC deserves props. But plenty of innovators have called Gotham home, bringing indispensable creations to life here. A short list: Scrabble, invented by Jackson Heights resident Alfred Butts; gelatin, patented by Peter Cooper (also famous for founding Cooper Union); air-conditioning, invented in Williamsburg by Willis Carrier, an engineer; and Foursquare, launched in 2009 by Dennis Crowley and Naveen Selvadurai—they worked on the social-media program at Crowley’s East Village apartment.

30
The High Line

Because other cities often copy projects that started or were perfected here—look at the High Line

The High Line’s creators can’t take credit for the idea of an elevated park: The attraction was inspired, in part, by Paris’s Promenade Planteé, which opened in 1993. But the development of the enormously popular Chelsea destination has set off a chain reaction of sorts, referred to as “the High Line effect”—increasingly, cities are using the park as an example of how once-dilapidated spaces can be repurposed for public use. Projects inspired by the High Line include the Reading Viaduct, an effort to transform an abandoned railroad spur near Philadelphia into a green space, and the Bloomingdale Trail, a three-mile stretch of track in Chicago that may become an elevated park. London is even getting on board: A competition was recently held for planners to create a “High Line for London.” The winning entry was actually designed to go underground, in rail tunnels beneath Oxford Street. (Was it inspired by New York’s Lowline, another adaptive-reuse project that would turn an abandoned subway tunnel under Delancey Street into a recreation area? We can’t say for sure, but we wouldn’t be surprised.)



Users say

42 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.