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News / Harmless Fun

The best ways to tell a real New Yorker from a fake New Yorker

The best ways to tell a real New Yorker from a fake New Yorker
Photograph: Courtesy Creative Commons/Flickr/Sporadic

Ah, the eternal question. Ist thou, or ist thou not a real New Yorker? Residents of this fair city have devised one million and one different ways to divine whether or not a person has the stripes, be it the correct pronunciation of Houston, or bubonic-level avoidance of Rockefeller Center during Christmastime. The question surfaced on Quora, and not surprisingly, folks were more than happy to answer it. 

"Real New Yorkers, at least those who were in NY in the 80s and 90s, don't look at other passersby directly in the eyes when walking down the street. It was a survival tactic back then, look at the wrong person the wrong way and you were asking to get mugged."—Bill Yao

"Real New Yorkers are not embarrassed to ask you about your rent the first time they see your apartment. When you reach the point where you also have no hesitation to blurt out: Nice! What are you paying?, then congratulations, you are now a Real New Yorker." —Jack Cheng

"A real NYer would never root for the Philadelphia Eagles. Ever."—Michael A. Anatole

"A real NYer stands on line to buy a hero and a soda at a deli. If he's friendly with the staff, he may ask one of them about their pop. A fake NYer stands in line to buy a grinder/hoagie/sub and a pop/coke at a store."—Peter Flom

"Real New Yorker: Knows that it takes up to 3 streets to precisely define where you are. Fake New Yorker: 'Meet me downtown.'" —Matt Schlenker

All good answers, but possibly our favorite response came from Christopher Keelty, who had this to say:

"Real New Yorkers realize there's no right answer to that question, that people who live in this city are all very different—some love sports, some couldn't name a NYC sports team."

He goes on: "Some New Yorkers are rude and mean. Others are polite and welcoming. Most are a mix—in their minds they might be cursing out the slow ass tourists with their selfie sticks, but when those tourists need directions they're all smiles."

And finally, "Some New Yorkers have never seen a Broadway show. Some have seen every Broadway show. Some are IN a Broadway show, and others work the lights or the curtains, or stand outside dressed as Elmo for a dollar (and hopefully don't shout antisemitic things about the Mayor)."

In closing, "Every New Yorker is a real New Yorker, and at the same time there's no such thing."

You tell 'em, Chris.



Andrew R

Real New Yorkers know what to call the five boroughs:  Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, Staten Island, and New York.

Elizabeth L

Sorry null s. We do complain about gentrification. The word may not be excatly known but we notice and clearly you aren't a real New Yorker.

Null S

Real New Yorkers don't complain about gentrification. They remember when thing's were much worse in the 80's and 90's.

Christopher K

Heh. Had I known this would find its way to TimeOut, I'd have gone back and hyphenated "slow-ass."