Being born in raised in New York City has definitely had an effect on my overall attitude and appreciation for an urban lifestyle. However, one cannot assume that living in this particular city is like living in every other city: fast paced lifestyle, transportation, etc. When I get the opportunities to visit another city, there are certain things I notice. Whether it be the physical appearance of its urban environment, the personalities of its inhabitants, or if you can find a decent slice of pizza at 4 am, here are some things a New Yorker notices when they travel to another city.
1. How Clean It Is
Let me clarify: not all parts of New York are dirty. However, that being said, the subway stations within every neighborhood are dirty, as well as the sidewalks. It’s also not unusual to see a couple of rodents roaming around at night. When I travel outside of the city, sometimes I’m in shock of how white some urban environment’s sidewalks are, refurbished the subway stations appear to be, or the lack of litter overall. There have been some cases where I’ve been introduced to the opposite phenomenon, however, such as a city that is dirtier. These places I’ve rarely encountered though, which leaves me disappointed that my home-city needs to be cleaner.
2. Strangers Making Conversation and/or Eye Contact
“New Yorkers are not friendly” is a common stereotype that I hear most often when I travel. This is obviously not always the case. However, we are not the type to start up conversations amongst ourselves on the subway or buses due to our constant fear that strangers only create conversation because they want something from us.
When I got to another city or town and someone, who I don’t know, begins to start small talk about something, I immediately freeze and get very silent. This feeling is not uncommon within New Yorkers, and unfortunately living in the city has made us develop this ‘standoffish’ attitude. This is supported by the belief that ‘crazy’ people are the only ones who talk to strangers. Where this comes from is the unfortunate experiences we’ve had on subways or streets, when we witness other people getting interrogated by people who only want to start trouble.
3. Terrible Transportation
New Yorkers don’t rely on cars, and the only time in which we use the cab or Uber services is if we are 1) in a rush or 2) it’s late at night and the subway just seems a bit too sketchy. When a city that we travel to has either no public transportation or very terrible service (I’m talking 1 or 2 subway lines), it creates a feeling of anxiety (at least for me personally). How can we get from point A to B? and if it’s an un-walkable amount of distance (I’m talking a couple of miles because the average New Yorker can walk 40-60 blocks without breaking a sweat), what measures can we go to NOT use our car?
4. Ability to Walk Everywhere
New Yorkers love to walk everywhere. The thought of having to spend 3 dollars to go a reasonable distance by transportation seems irrational. Plus, we love to look around the city and find that walking is the best way to discover cute places.
5. People Under 21 Having Driver’s Licenses
As someone who graduated high school quite recently, I want to say less than 30% of the graduates from my school have or are going to have their drivers license before college. I’m currently 19 and I haven’t even gotten my permit yet. This is pretty common amongst the New York Youth population. When I meet other people my age who have had some form of driver identification since they were 16, my first question is usually, ‘Why?’. If there seems to be no other form of transportation, however, I understand where this determination is coming from.
6. Restaurants Not Open 24/7
You’ve just left your friends house, it’s almost 4 am, and you’re craving pizza. On the block you’re walking on, I guarantee you at least 2 spots are open to grab a hot slice. This is not always the case for every city (shocker, I know).
I’ve traveled to cities where restaurants CLOSE at 9pm. This is extremely inconvenient for someone like me who has a family that eats DINNER at this time. So when I leave somewhere, or I wake up in the middle of the night, and there’s nothing open–needless to say I’m upset.
7. Wearing Colors
This is a personal preference and not the case for every New Yorker, but I do notice amongst my friends that no one owns a lot of colored/printed clothing. It’s mostly neutral tones, blacks, whites, grays, and the occasional pop of color (max 1 colorful item per outfit). When walking down the streets of a different city, however, and I see people wearing not 1–but 2 different colors, needless to say, it’s quite a ‘culture shock’.
8. Public Reaction to Seeing Famous People
The first couple of times you see famous people on the street, in restaurants, or even strolling through the aisles of Whole Foods, it can be exciting. However, I never approach them, maybe it’s because I’m shy or that since a young age I’ve been trained NOT to do that. ‘Famous people don’t want to be bothered’ was something my mom would always tell me, so I did just that: not bother them.
When someone who has a substantial amount of publicity enters a public area in another city, some people react the same way: don’t bother them. However, there have been times where a sighting of someone has caused a mass disruption of people to engulf this person. Maybe they just wanted to get some bread or another 1/4 tank of gas? Why bother them?
9. Pedestrians Following Stoplights
The whole concept of the ‘push the button’ type of street crosswalk additionally baffles me. The number of times I’ve j-walked in the city is obscene, I’ll admit. But it makes me even more curious to understand those citizens who ACTUALLY stop when they see the red light. I must admit, sometimes I wish I knew sooner to follow this because it has caused me an array of near accidents. Not like I’m not used to that though!
10. Diversity of the Population
Usually living in a city that is known for some form of international business allows other people of different backgrounds to travel there and continue their lives. Some of it is historical, as well. I’m not particularly talking about race and ethnicity, however, there have been times where I’ve visited other cities and have ONLY seen white people (which was both strange and shocking). Diversity is what defines and make New York so grand, I believe. When I encounter other environments where the same amount of differences between myself and other New York citizens isn’t apparent within the inhabitants of the particular city, I definitely am taken aback.