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10 things out-of-towners will immediately notice about New York

10 things out-of-towners will immediately notice about New York

You can travel all over the world and see people do the same things the same way, but leave it to New Yorkers to do things their own way (thanks, Mr. Sinatra). As a newcomer to the city, here are 10 things I noticed immediately that seem unique to this city.

1. The New York minute is real.
Zip zip zip, it’s like the whole city is on really strong coffee: New Yorkers talk fast, they walk fast, they order fast. Gotta go, gotta go.

2. There is no logical flow on the sidewalk.
Many cities have two different “lanes” on their sidewalks, but New Yorkers need to get to where they’re going, and damn fast, so you’re to see a whole lot of bobbing, weaving, and darting all over the place. Get with the flow or just get the hell out of the way.

3. Jaywalking is rampant.
You have never seen jaywalking like you do in New York. The crosswalk light may not be in a pedestrian’s favor, but if there’s a split second when they can hop across the street because a cab is turning or a car got blocked, they’ll take it.

4. Pedestrians rule.
Cabs and drivers seem to accept the constant flow of humanity trying to jaywalk their way through the city, and don’t really honk much at them (but watch out for Uber drivers who seem to be the ones to honk and barrel though).

5. The city is international as all get out.
You will hear so many different languages and see so many different faces in just one block, it’s like walking through the international terminal at JFK.

6. The subway is the great equalizer.
In many cities, you’ll see the economic divide of who takes public transport or not, but in New York, everyone takes the subway (some investment banker–types may hop into a Town Car more than others, but still).

7. Staring is okay.
People look at each other for about one or two beats longer in New York. In other cities it would be considered staring, but in New York, intense people-watching is totally an accepted thing.

8. New Yorkers like banter.
Your doorman at the hotel, the guy at the café, your server…it seems like everyone is ready with a quick comeback, joke, or snappy comment. How you doin’?

9. To stay?
If you’re ordering a coffee or a sandwich, be prepared to be asked if it’s “to go or to stay” (instead of “for here or to go?”).

10. New Yorkers are helpful.
If someone sees you puzzling over a subway map or you’re just really turned around, New Yorkers are quick to help you get back on track. You’ll really see a New Yorker spring into action if they see someone struggling with their stroller, wrecking on their bike, or having trouble with their bags. It’s hard to live in the big city, and New Yorkers obviously understand the importance of a helping hand.



Gary Seven

Walking tip-If you see an aggressive pan handler up ahead, walk diagonally behind and to the outside of the person in front of you.  They will become the target.

William S

Living in NYC is a group effort.

Andrew R

In our family-owned restaurant business, which we had in various locations around NYC from the mid 1970s through 2004, our servers usually asked "For here or to go?"  Or just "For here?" if there was some doubt during counter-service.  The generalities "New Yorkers like banter" and "Staring is okay" are also foreign to me.  Most I know, including me,hate making small-talk on the street, and tend to shy away from close encounters with strangers.  If strangers from out-of-town love getting into conversations with New Yorkers, those who acquiesce, in midtown anyway, will more often than not be put off by the provincial openness, and try to wrap it up asap or just walk away.

Rachel R

I never met a New Yorker that thought staring was acceptable...

William M

@Rachel R Right!  I read it in a Time Out New York piece called "Things New Yorkers will never do"  It said "New Yorkers never make eye contact".