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Alexandria Ocasio Cortez
Photograph: Shutterstock | Alexandria Ocasio Cortez on the street

8 kinds of famous New Yorkers everyone has spotted before

You’ve definitely seen these stars on the street.

Written by
Kristen Perrone
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The characters you encounter on a typical New York day are usually colorful enough for their own Emmy-winning sitcom. However, every now and then, you may spot a real star around the city who adds some glamour to a mundane Tuesday.

If you’re a true city mouse, you’ve mastered the cool, nonchalant approach many locals have to these sightings, but deep down, nothing beats the delight of seeing a beloved star on the same old sidewalk you’re dodging garbage on. Here are the kinds of famous New Yorkers everyone has spotted before.

1. The morning show mainstays

Morning show hosts keep odd hours, so they can be rare to spot in the wild. That’s why seeing Al Roker, Kelly Ripa, or George Stephanopoulos in your neck of the woods feels like a heartwarming run-in with a longtime friend. We spend years enjoying our morning coffee with their voices in the background, but nothing is better than seeing these familiar faces in the flesh. 

2. The actors with their own restaurants or bars

Many celebrity sightings are coincidences, but here, you have a decent chance of seeing New York-based stars like Nicholas Braun or Robert De Niro at the acclaimed bars and restaurants that they own. In 2020, Succession’s Braun and fellow actor Justin Theroux opened dive bar Ray’s on the Lower East Side, attracting a long list of famous visitors who regularly enjoy the ambiance alongside common folk who manage to snag a table. For a fancier evening of star searching, De Niro’s line of Nobu hotels and sushi restaurants promise glitzy eye candy both on the plate and around the room.

Robert De Niro in Being Flynn
Photograph: David LeeRobert De Niro in Being Flynn

3. The local journalists and politician

You know you’re passionate about your city when seeing local New York representatives like Jerry Nadler or Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez at a community event is the highlight of your day. The same goes for seeing your favorite PIX11 or NY1 reporter in action on the street. Remember to wave at the camera if you walk by!

4. The niche social star

Whether your preference is for accounts promoting the best new restaurants or ones sharing city budgeting hacks, we New Yorkers love to stay in the know. Catching a TikTok star in the middle of filming a future viral hit is exciting, but once you’ve seen your favorite local creator doing what they love, you can basically call New York your very own small town. 

5. A Real Housewife

Bravo’s Big Apple ladies aren’t as cocooned on the Upper East Side as they used to be, so it’s not too far-fetched to see Luann de Lesseps outside of her cabaret show or Sonja Morgan on a break from her endless townhouse upkeep. Still, running into Real Housewives of New York cast members around their usual uptown stomping grounds is practically like stepping into your favorite guilty pleasure TV show. 

Real Housewives of New York City tour
Photograph: Courtesy Viator

6. The urban legends

If you’re a New York newbie, you’ve officially been here for a decent chunk of time when you pass the infamous naked cowboy in Times Square. After this milestone, the next step is tracking down your neighborhood’s legendary restaurant proprietor or the performer who always finds a prime spot along Central Park’s Mall walk. 

7. The West Village and Brooklyn mavens 

When you make a pilgrimage to the exterior of Carrie Bradshaw’s apartment on Perry Street, there’s a good chance of spotting longtime Village resident Sarah Jessica Parker, her husband Matthew Broderick, and their bevy of famous neighbors. Eagle-eyed fans have seen Andy Cohen reporting on overflowing garbage and have fawned over Anderson Cooper’s beautiful firehouse-turned-home. The Village attracts an endless roster of stars as both a cozy neighborhood and a party hotspot, so a Sunday wander through this maze holds great potential for sightings. Over in an even more laidback Brooklyn, waiting for coffee alongside neighbors like Emily Blunt, Ethan Hawke, and Maggie Gyllenhaal isn’t out of the ordinary either. 

8. The hometown heroes

There’s a special category of celebrities born and bred throughout New York whose personas are so intertwined with the city’s energy that locals can’t help but adore them. No one will complain if Ray Romano or Jerry Seinfeld crashes their Comedy Cellar act or if Spike Lee is blocking their view at a Knicks game. Anyone with a Billy Joel sighting outside of Madison Square Garden might as well have a key to the city.

Spike Lee
Photograph: Featureflash Photo Agency, Shutterstock.com

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