Not sure if there is just a misunderstandng in what is said above, but when NYCers say 'the city', they are NOT referring to NYC (and its 5 boroughs) in its entirety, but rather are referring only to Manhattan. When you ask an NYCer where they live and they reply "I live in the city' or when a person in Queens says "I'm heading in to the city', they are referring to Manhattan.
New Yorkers consider NYC "the city," and other fun language data
These infographs show the differences in American dialects—and the results are fascinating.
Wed Jun 5 2013
Graphic: Joshua Katz via NC State University
We're guilty of casually referring to NYC as "the city" in conversation—even when the person we're conversing with doesn't actually live here—but we thought that was a uniquely New York–y (and, sure, annoying) peccadillo. Not so!
Inspired by a dialect survey initially conducted by linguistics profressor Bert Vaux, Ph.D. student Joshua Katz created maps that show the differences in language throughout different regions of the U.S. Some of the results aren't surprising—only people in Pennsylvania and New Jersey refer to sandwiches as "hoagies," the "soda" vs. "pop" divide is a real thing—but others are pretty interesting. (People in Rhode Island call water fountains "bubblers"? "Brew thrus" are a thing?!?) And yes, there are more people nationwide who think of NYC when they think of "the city."