A middle-age man in cowboy boots and a Stetson sauntered with his wife past Radio City Music Hall. He turned to her and drawled, “You know, hon, we done walked six blocks from our hotel and ain’t one person said howdy!” True story. I know so, because I was walking behind them at the time, trying without much success to squeeze past them on that crowded sidewalk. And he wasn’t wrong. New Yorkers do behave differently than people from other places—especially when it comes to getting around on foot.
Most people learn to walk before they’re two years old—and then forget as soon as they arrive in New York. At least, that’s how it seems to those of us who must dodge, drift, and dart down the sidewalks daily as we try not to bump into the millions of tourists who visit each year. We also, in the interest of being good ambassadors for our city, must stifle our scatological outbursts when you step on our toes or cause us to leap into the street to pass you by. So if you want to fit in and avoid dirty looks, do us, and yourself, a favor and follow a few simple rules.
And please don’t take any of this the wrong way. We want you to visit New York, see the shows, eat at the restaurants, support the museums and galleries. Sometimes your smiles and awestruck skyward gazes help us remember the magic of the city that we’re lucky to call home. So go ahead and walk. Walk a lot. But after you’ve spent your money, checked the famous sights off your list, and walked so much you have blisters, do just one more thing: visit us again. But only after you’ve learned the basic rules of how to walk in New York.