42 Things You Only Know if You're a Real New Yorker

Things You Only Know If You’re a New York Native
Photo: Siegfried Layda/Getty Images

New York City can be an intimidating place. The lights! The taxis! The millions of people rushing along the sidewalks with their elbows out! The city is home to 8.6 million people, a good amount of whom were raised in the Big Apple and know how to navigate its streets, subways, and many, many lines.

We gathered some intel from native New Yorkers about how they make the urban jungle their home.

Use these tidbits the next time you’re in the city—or not! In its own gruff, harried way New York City is welcoming to all and is very understanding of anyone who does things a little differently or is still learning the ropes.

1. New Yorkers love to walk

New Yorkers walk everywhere. Bring comfortable shoes, strap on your FitBit, refill your water bottle, and go.

2. To beware the taxi shift change

You will never find a cab at 5 p.m., because that’s when the taxi shifts change.

3. Uber is always surging

It’s always surge pricing on Uber. If not, it is probably the first sign of the Rapture.

4. There's no such thing as jaywalking

There is no such thing as jaywalking, instead cross the street when traffic allows (but be mindful that not all taxis agree)

5. It’s OK to show the cars who's boss

Additionally, if a cab almost hits you, you hit it right back—or at least yell, “Hey, I’m walking here!”

6. When heading to the airport, call a cab

Getting to or from any of the local airports is a nightmare that even Dante couldn’t dream up—just pay for a cab or call an Uber.

7. Going home after work means you’re not doing anything that night

New Yorkers never go home. It’s straight from home to the gym to the office to happy hour to dinner.

8. Your best friend is a giant carry-all

The secret to living life on the go is a giant tote bag. If you don’t have one already, local pharmacy chain Duane Reade will provide one for you (if you purchase something)

9. Headphones are a requirement

You never need to take out your headphones, at most take one out to hear the cabbie’s explanation for why he’s going through Times Square at rush hour.

10. How to wait on line

You're waiting “on line,” not “in line.”

11. Pat Kiernan is gold

Local news station NY1 is the best source for information for city life and its anchor-in-chief Pat Kiernan is a local legend.

12. The higher the hotel room, the better

The countryside is way scarier than Brooklyn and you should never take a hotel room on the first floor.

13. Driving is never necessary

Knowing how to drive is overrated, especially when there’s a 24-hour subway and a fleet of taxis.

14. Cabs are convenient, but the subway is usually quicker

The subway is usually faster than a cab (and cheaper), except in the middle of the night.

15. Swiping a Metrocard is an art

Swiping a subway Metrocard is an art form best practiced at any time other than rush hour.

16. Empty subway cars are never a good thing

Be very, very suspicious of a subway car with no one in it.

17. “Showtime” isn't entertaining—it's dangerous

If you hear the phrase, “It’s SHOWTIME!” while you’re on the subway, watch your head. Someone’s foot may come swinging over it.

18. There is no “north” or “south”

If you’re getting directions, “uptown” means north and “downtown” means south.

19. Bodegas are everything

A bodega is a corner grocery store and also a lifeline that sells everything from beer to diapers to the best egg-and-cheese on a roll in town (a.k.a. the best hangover cure).

20. Bodega cats are neighborhood mascots

Bodega cats—the cuddly critters who call the shops home—are sacred.

21. Movies are full of lies about NYC real estate

Movie depictions of Manhattan real estate are a lie. There is no way Monica and Rachel could have afforded that apartment. For a peek at realNYC apartments, visit the Tenement Museum.

22. To avoid Times Square on New Year’s Eve

The New Year's Eve ball drop is best viewed from your television.

23. To avoid Times Square most of the time

Times Square is a nightmare to be avoided at all costs—unless you stumble in at night time, then the neon is pretty impressive.

24. Take the pizza, leave the hot dogs

Dollar pizza is nothing to be scared of, but dirty water hot dogs are buyer beware.

25. Black and white cookies are not Oreos

A bagel is not a bialy, a black and white cookie is notan Oreo, and Italian Ice is not ice cream.

26. Eating pizza doesn’t require a table

The best way to eat a slice of pizza is while standing on the street.

27. You don't need to head to Little Italy for Italian

Skip the restaurants in Little Italy and head to Di Palo’s for fresh mozzarella and soppressata.

28. Chinatown dumplings are the best brunch food

If you pay more than $1 for a dumpling in Chinatown, you’re doing it wrong.

29. Some museums have “suggested admission prices”

The admission price at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Natural History Museum is a suggestion, not a requirement. Pay what you can or want, and do it with your head held high.

30. Which museum exhibits are the best

In the Met, head straight to the Temple of Dendur.

31. The city’s lesser-known art spots

Skip the pricey museums and visit the art galleries in Chelsea instead.

32. How beautiful Grand Central Terminal is

There’s no way to avoid gawking at the ceiling at Grand Central Terminal.

33. There are many underrated museums

The National Museum of the American Indian is incredibly underrated and the Cloisters is worth the ride uptown on the A train.

34. Brooklyn is amazing

Brooklyn is nothing to be scared of—visit Red Hook for the best view of the Statue of Liberty, Carroll Gardens for brownstone charm, Williamsburg for nightlife, DUMBO for dramatic views of the city and its bridges, and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and Prospect Park are great for picnics on a sunny day.

35. Queens has amazing food

Queens is the real culinary heart of the city, with the best dim sum, dynamic Indian restaurants, Vietnamese pho shops, the craft brewers in Long Island City, and Mexican food that will make you feel like you’re back in Oaxaca.

36. The best thing after a trip to the zoo is an Italian dinner

The best way to follow up a trip to the Bronx Zoo is to head to Arthur Avenue for some of the best Italian food this side of the Atlantic Ocean.

37. When to rent a Citibike

The best view of New Jersey (if you’re into that sort of thing) hop on a Citibike along Hudson River Park.

38. The High Line is always worth it

The High Line is one of the few destinations worth navigating around the tourists. It’s beautifully designed, fun to walk, and has gelato stands.

39. Where to find ice cream by the Brooklyn Bridge

Walking over the Brooklyn Bridge is a fun way to spend an afternoon—and there’s ice cream on the Brooklyn side.

40. Some of the best views are from the cheap (or free) ferries

The East River Ferry is a less expensive way to see the city than the tourist cruises. And the Staten Island Ferry is free.

41. Head to Union Square for people watching

The Union Square Farmers Market is a great place to people watch and grab some snacks.

42. The city really doesn’t sleep

There is always something going on, the bars don’t close until 4 a.m., the trains are always running, the bodegas are always open, and people are always out.

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