News / City Life

Eight ways to tell a real New Yorker from a fake New Yorker

NYC is a city of transplants, interns and tourists with a few born-and-bred New Yorkers mixed into the bunch. Regardless of which category you fall into here are eight telltale ways to tell a real New Yorker from a fake New Yorker. 

1) Real New Yorkers will sit by the rail at all costs. 

Sure, it's a little weird sliding down into that warm seat once someone gets up, but it's a small price to pay for the freedom the rail provides. And if you catch an empty train, all the better, kickback against the rail and relax. 

Photograph: Rev Stab via Flickr

2) Fake New Yorkers will wait for the walk sign.

Is there an epidemic of jaywalking tickets being handed out everywhere else in this country? Seriously, why is it so taboo to not just use common sense and cross when it's clear in the rest of the country?  

Photography: Wendy Connett

 3) Fake New Yorkers are still offered mixtapes in Times Square.

A real New Yorker will walk right past free of harassment, but a fake New Yorker will be sensed and handed a mixtape. Never take the mixtape. 

Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

4) Real New Yorkers will have a strong opinion about the city's best burger.  

Whether a chain like Five Guys or Shake Shack or a New York institution like Minetta Tavern you need to have a strong enough opinion that you're willing to fight with your friends. 

5) Fake New Yorkers won't eat from food carts.  

It may seem dirty to an outsider, but these hot dog and halal carts are providing on the go meals (or drunk food) to the real New Yorkers. 

Photograph: Navid Baraty

 6) Real New Yorkers will give an intersection, not an address. 

A numbered address is akin to hieroglyphics. Give a person the intersection and then it's up to them to figure it out. 

Photograph: Peter Mauss Esto Photography

7) Real New Yorkers won't wait in line for food.

The nice thing about New York is no matter if you want a bagel, burger or salad there will be a few great options within blocks. We don't wait in line for some instafamous spot. 

Photograph: iStockphoto

8) Real New Yorkers will just walk  

Twenty blocks may seem like a marathon to out-of-towners, but years of building up an impressive walking tolerance (and speed) mean we sometimes get there even faster than a taxi or Uber.  

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Lynn R

New York continues to go thru cultural changes as have generations and regions. When I first "arrived" here, a regular coffee meant coffee w/milk; not plain old coffee straight-up. Starbucks may have altered the vernacular in that regard. Also, New Yorkers are intrepid when it comes to waiting on/in line for something they absolutely MUST experience (i.e, the Delacorte Theater, opera/sports/concert fans, etc.). Finally, I think it begs the question to distinguish b/w who's "bona fide," and who's isn't. It basically comes down to a learning curve, influenced by such factors as individual values, goals, and/or the results of Big City conditioning.

Marien K

I think I am a real New Yorker since I have never lived anywhere else...if that counts! I almost completely agree with the list except every now and then I must have a “dirty dog”from a food cart but not much else. In the “beginning” that was all that was sold from carts, One other thing....I have ridden the “rails” meaning the subways since longer than I care to mention so sitting near the rail is an expression I have never heard ...but I guess it is near the end of the seats or beginning! The only thing we ever called a name was the “poles” which might have a totally new connotation in this day and age!


LOL!!! Didn't realize it was an NYC thing to sit at the rail!!! Thought it was just me!!! But I will wait in line for some really good food!!!


Real NYer: born and raised in NYC.
Fake NYer: moved here, with lots of opinions on what makes a "Real NYer".

Salinda L

Born and raised in NYC.  I'll stand on line at Shake Shack any day because it is good and it is also one of the first NYC born fast food eateries, so it's novel.  I also remember the days when Danny Meyer would comp his loyal customers and treat them like gold at one of the finest and long lasting downtown NYC institutions Union Square Cafe. Union Square Cafe was to Union Square what Tribeca Grill was to Tribeca.  (A 'real' New Yorker will know what this means.)

Joe R M

How to spot a real New Yorker: look for a bunch of tourists taking over the sidewalk, going slow and not paying attention, then look behind them for the person that's trying to get them out of their way because they have to get back to work, or even worse, go home. This is especially bad if the tourists are watching street dancers in a big circle that leaves only 2 inches of space to pass by, because then we want to murder somebody!

De'Vora A

Uh ohhhh. Here we go with the "Real Ny'er" articles. None of this stuff is true. I was born and raised here as well as my parents. This is CRAP.

Josh O

Real New Yorkers rarely go to Times Square. 

Scott K

I haven't eaten from a friggin food cart in at least a decade. Extreme food poisoning has ruined it forever. Food carts are for newbie New Yorkers.

Richard S

@Scott K i am a native New Yorker-born in Brooklyn in 1941-and lived in every borough (but settled in the Bronx for the past 39 years) i would agree with you about the possible dangers of food cart food but i sincerely miss the delicious Gabilas knishes i used to practically live on-what ever happened to them???

Gary Seven

Real New Yorkers don’t eat those fig cookies in the fruit convenience stores. But they like black and white cookies.

James Q

It's nice to know that I'm a "real new yorker" after only a year or two--at least if I buy your definition.

#9. A real New Yorker doesn't act all smug and arrogant because they live in New York.

Yana L

Real New Yorkers can laugh and add to a list versus..

Leo J

I never realized such elitism was involved in being a New Yorker. Quite absurd really: if you wanted to take pride in being a native, then you shouldn't live in a major city. Instead you should live in some backwards country town that doesn't let outsiders in.

What makes New York so great is that it welcomes everyone. It's the melting pot that doesn't care about where you're from. The essence of New York, its special feel and atmosphere, is made exactly of the fact that there aren't only locals there but people from everywhere.

Besides, just because you happened to be born in New York is not a merit. The real test is, what have you done in your life to make New York better. Someone who moved in a couple of years ago might be a much more productive member of the community than a "real" New Yorker who spends his time and energy judging those who don't eat mystery meat from street carts or who use exact addresses instead of corners.

Deborah H

@Edward T So , real New Yonkers are all identical in their thinking, actions and speaking. Interesting. 

Dom G

@Leo J Real New Yorkers kkep to the righy when walking. These friggin outlanders and tourists are a major pain in the butt. Even worse, the mopes who walk against traffic with their nose in their device. HUMBUG!!

Kiko J

@Leo J 

Sadly, the transplants are the ones willing to pay the exorbitant rents and are part of the reason why it's so expensive to live here.

Edward T

Obviously not a real New Yorker!

Vicki P

Also so true about the walking. A couple more: If someone offers you a pedicab or tour of Central Park, a REAL New Yorker says: I'll take YOU on a tour of Central Park. A real New Yorker STANDS on the Subway unless they are going on a LONG ride; A Real New Yorker NEVER EVER stops in the middle of the block or the intersection when people are moving forward.

Vicki P

LOL Born in Brooklyn in 1954 and lived here all my life. Still prefer not to eat from food carts. The rest is 100% true

James G

Also, real New Yorkers call Manhattan "THE CITY" , but all other boroughs by name as opposed to referring to the city to mean all 5 boroughs lol

Gianna T

@James G  Real New Yorkers from Manhattan call Manhattan, Manhattan, and all five boroughs the "The City". Outer boroughs call Manhattan,  "The City".

Janea H

Real New Yorkers don't wait in line, we wait on line.

Kay D

All of these are spot on, and living in Philly I still do these

Peter D

1.When someone calls out to you, you continue about your business cos you dont have to look, you can feel when its a hustler or panhandler.

2. Some says "where you from?" Answer is" right Here. "

3. The days of real hot dog vendors are past in NYC.

4.Times Square is a tourist trap.

5.whats left of little italy is tourist trap so is the South Street Seaport.

6. No, Im not buying a swipe of your Metro.

Elizabeth B

Born and raised.

1) Real New Yorkers are actually nice and helpful...and dont have an "attitude" cause they dont have anything to prove.

2) Real New Yorkers talk to traffic. Taxis , cars running over the...

3) real New Yorkers know the subway inside out and can give you five subway routes to one destination.

4) Real New Yorkers have no idea how to navigate downtown where there are no numbers.

5) Real New Yorkers have not been to all the tourist places...unless they are taking tourists!

Vicki P

@Elizabeth B so true....I first went to the Statue of Liberty when I was over 40 and taking cousins from Paris there. I'm not sure if I've ever been to the top of the Empire State Bldg, but I was at the top of the WTC... I worked there for a while...

Joe R M

I work downtown, no trouble with navigation... Might not remember every name of every street, but I know what is where and the best route to get there without running into yet another building under construction that blocks off the sidewalk.

Mary F

So true, especially the walking thing.  Also, if a New Yorker doesn't give you an intersection, it will be: "under the clock in Grand Central."  "Under the clock in Macys."  Always a big landmark Helen Keller could spot.

Dad in W

While I admit to growing up in Chicago, I spent the last 34 years in NYC. This was written by someone other than a real NewYorker.... I see Rock Center daily and can spot the tourists. How about rewriting this spiel from an insiders view.


You can add many to the eight...which to me were pretty weak. Example: Real NY'ers....

-Avoid Times Square at all cost

-Looks ahead/down and not up to the sky while walking.

-Stands to the side when needing to make a sudden stop on the side walk.

-Although burgers are good NY'ers are more passionate about their pizza.

-"Rail" seat??? The corner seat or door seat.

- Yes, we are nice and helpful but we will call you out if need be.

- Real New Yorkers wouldn't stand 'ON' line for some suburb franchise bc they already have a spot where they go to get the best....

- Dirty water dogs and Halal a tourist thing. Again NY'ers know where to go to get the best.

I don't think you are a real New Yorker yourself. I'd venture to say there aren't many true NY'ers left in Manhattan. True New Yorker status belongs to the folks in the outer boroughs .

Lucas E

Lol. These 8 weird things about New Yonkers don't make sense!


new yorkers are the nicest people around...its the transplants that are complete cunts.

Lucas E

I don't think they're cents, I think they just don't know us.

Vicki P

@Babes I don't think that language is necessary in a civil discussion

Tom G

We not only don't wait "in line" for anything (which is somewhat absurd), but Mr. Millstein should know that we New Yorkers tend to wait "on line" for things... do we not?

James E

Been in new york city since 1990. I agree with some of these things. Big one was waiting in line for food. I see big lines for burgers, shakes, whatever. In this city, there is something better with no line. 


Born and raised....right on the money....there's a few more that could've been there too like....REAL NYERS DON'T GO TO TIMES SQUARE....

Matthew S

Weak article by a questionable new yorker. A sophomore NYU student from Scarsdale could have written this.

Joe R M

Nyc and jaywalking have been best friends since horses were the fastest means of travel. Other places were built FOR cars. (except Salt Lake city, that was built with wide roads so horse drawn wagons could make u turn.) Some cities even have laws where if you get run over while jaywalking, you are at fault, not the guy controlling 4,000lbs of steel.

Nelson R

@Joe R M If you get run over while jaywalking, it IS your fault.

richard D

Been here 71 years. Right on the money. You give people an intersection if you are in Manhattan. You don't need a GPS

Irving L

this wasn't written by a "real new yorker" just the line for shake shack before it was famous was over 15 min and made from all "true new yorkers' and lets not even mention the line for the cronuts

Joe R M

Cronuts line was full of hipsters from Brooklyn, and most of them moved here from out of town and are ruining things for people that are actually from here (driving rents so high we have to either work several jobs or leave, meanwhile the hipsters can still afford it because they add more roommates! They are like the Borg!)