What are quirky local customs in New York City?

Answers from Our Experts (2)

Carol Cain

There are many ways to identify a New Yorker, no matter where she or he may be. One of the most obvious is how we talk. Streets like Houston (East or West) are pronounced "HOWston" - nothing like the Texan city by the same name. We look into meerrahs, and drink wader. Expletives are part of the course, as well as honesty and strong opinions. We stand on line, as opposed to in them, and we're not huge fans of umbrellas, as they obstruct our ability to move. The pace of our walk is fast, even when we have nowhere to be, and our ability to walk long distances and through crowds is a gift mastered only after years of having to do it.

There's the city and then there's everything else - though the increase in the cost of living in the city has pushed many to outer boroughs, such as Brooklyn and Queens. That being said, we are firecely loyal to our hometown boroughs, each with their own unique personalities and quirks. If you have to cross a bridge or tunnel to get into the city, then you are Bridge and Tunnel.

We swear by our bagels and Lox, our pizzas, and our cheap coffees - though we are also great supporters of artisan food products and beverages.

New Yorkers have an ability to maintain a sense of personal space, even in the most crowded of situations and never make eye contact or smile when walking down the street, even when they are looking right at you.

Though it isn't hard to find a New Yorker who doesn't know how to drive or have a license, if you do, be ready. We are aggressive drivers by nature, able to parallel park our cars into the tiniest spots and navigate through the heaviest of traffic. And when it comes to tiny spots, New Yorkers are known to live harmoniously in the smallest of them, while paying high rents, often in exchange for great location and even greater brunch spots - because, yes, brunch is our religion.

We complain about our city often, but can't imagine life outside of it and will often exclaim that there is no place in the world like it - which this Brooklyn girl has to agree is the truth.

Linnea Covington

Since New York is such a melting pot of cultures, it meshes wacky local customs from around the world. However, there are some basic things to know to help your stay run smoother, and more under the radar.

1. Be warned that the street Houston is not pronounced like the Texas city, instead, New Yorkers say it “HOW-sten.” Why they do this? It’s not immediately apparent, but as long as you know that, asking for directions will run much smoother.

2. Elevators, yes, they may seem simple, but one thing you must know is to stay on the right side of the moving stairs if you want to stand, and walk up on the left side. So many times people block the whole things, and for busy residents that feel the need to bustle, it’s frustrating.

3. Move into the train! I cannot highlight this concept enough. Though you might be nervous about missing your stop, if you block the doors, people won’t be happy, and neither will you for that matter they push past you aggressively. In general, people are nice and will move if you ask them, and, chances are others will be departing at your station too, so people kind of just pour out of the doors.

4. Don’t discount New York pizza or bagels, people are crazy about them and wars have been fought over an unkind word to either. When you are in New York, go with flow, drink the Koolaid, and accept that while you are here, NYC-style is best.

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