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.