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5 things that make me feel like a New Yorker.

June 1, 2009

A couple weeks ago, Erik asked me what made me feel most like a New Yorker. I thought it was a great question, considering I’m not a New Yorker (I’m an Oregonian-turned-resentful-Jersey-girl), but certain things make me feel almost like a card-caring-foul-mouthed-bonafide-bitchy-Gossip-Girl. (Edit: Kidding! I don’t actually think this way about New Yorkers… though I know others who do, which is why I said it.)

1. Subways.
As far as underground mass transportation goes, the MTA subway system takes the cake at being the worst. Give the French Metro (or the D.C. one, for that matter) or the London Underground. The NYC subway system is a dirty, unventilated, crowded mess that has no seating, not enough maps, and no information about when your next train is going to arrive (unless you’re riding the L line). But. The NYC subway system is the microcosm of all things NYC. It has every walk of life, from old ladies in fur coats, to grungy twentysomethings making their mark in the East Village to The Suits from Wall Street. I love to imagine where these people are going, where they are coming from, what they’re thinking and most of all – who they’re wearing!

2. Soho
Erik and I were wandering around Soho yesterday and it surprisingly never feels that touristy to me, even though it probably is the second most touristy place in NYC (next to Times Square, that is, which also makes me feel like a New Yorker because of how insanely pissed off I get at tourists who stop to take pictures of the pretty lights IN THE MIDDLE OF THE SIDEWALK. I’m like, “I’M WALKING HERE.” Some of us, you know, have places to go!). Anyway, Soho makes me feel like a New Yorker because of how rich and fancy the whole place is. Designer clothes and expensive jewelry line the blocks that make up Soho, along with the fancy restaurants, bars with opened walls with patrons pouring out onto the streets, and galleries with artwork that cost as much as a down payment on a Greenwich loft. (Second and third place: Greenwich Village and the Upper East Side, but I have spent less time there overall).

3. Central Park
Central Park is really like none other. It’s gorgeous, HUGE, and when you’re in the middle of it, you don’t even feel like you’re in New York City at all. Which of course, makes me feel like a New Yorker even more. Central Park is one of the reasons my newest goal in life is to move to the Upper West Side (and become a real New Yorker). I supposed it’s growing up in Oregon, but loving the city life, that makes Central Park so special to me. I love being completely surrounded by nature, but also having the luxury of doing so much people-watching while being within walking distance of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Magnolia’s and Columbus Circle.


4. Ignoring the Honking Horns
Honestly, I don’t think I hear them anymore. I can walk around for hours and not get startled by a single horn honking. I think I’ve become immune to them. There are so many horns honking at all hours of the day (and night) that I think it’s pretty impossible to get startled by them after a few days of living in and around New York City. But it doesn’t mean I have any inkling of why people honk their horn. Most people are not on the verge of hitting someone else, and it’s unlikely that there are that many drivers asleep at the wheel. Mostly it comes down to impatience, which is certainly a New Yorker trait!

5. The Empire State Building
It’s the only NYC landmark that I can see from my bedroom and it’s pretty much the thing that keeps me rooted in New York day in and day out. I can see it as far away as Ridgewood, NJ on Route 17 and I can see it from my office, and on the train to and from work. It can be seen from quite a few places in New York City (though certainly not everywhere), which gives me a slight thrill to know that I can see it just by going home. When the weather is gray and cloudy, and the Empire State Building disappears into the clouds, there is something missing and the world seems a bit more… ordinary.

  1. June 1, 2009 5:40 PM

    One way I know I am a New Yorker – I get annoyed when people categorize being a New Yorker as “foul-mouthed-bonafide-bitchy-Gossip-Girl”!!! C’mon, a little credit for all of us who aren’t on television shows that glorify the worst of our culture.

    And the subway is the BEST. Sure, those other cities have cleaner trains and more seats – but we have more people. And the reason they are so clean, is that they close down all night – precisely when you need them the most! Our trains run 24 hours. You really can’t beat that!

    • June 1, 2009 5:44 PM

      Erica, sorry, you must have missed my sarcasm. I certainly don’t think New Yorkers are like that, otherwise I wouldn’t want to be one! I think New Yorkers are awesome and I have a lot of friends who are New Yorkers. I was playing into the stereotype… I don’t actually believe the stereotype (hence, it’s a stereotype). Sorry you were offended.

      Yes, love that the subways are 24 hours. The PATH too, for this (ugh) Jersey girl.

  2. June 1, 2009 7:52 PM

    2/3 br flat might be opening on 93rd just off the 123 line. It’s cute and a great location. My friends live there but are all parting ways. Let me know if you want more info.

    • June 1, 2009 9:47 PM

      Thanks for the offer, but my lease doesn’t end until August and I think I’ll probably try to stick around a bit longer. Enjoy my ESB view while I can!

  3. tmana permalink
    June 1, 2009 9:24 PM

    Hmm. Haven’t been to SoHo in a while. Sounds like it’s become regentrified cr@p. Old Money mostly OES. Newer money used to be Upper West Site but now I think LES? Wall Street has become twentysomething overcrowded-in-overpriced-apartment haven!!!!!

    Best things about Manhattan are (1) it never shuts; (2) you can find (almost) anything, if you know where to look and have enough $$$$; (3) all public transit leads to Manhattan.

    Worst things about Manhattan are (1) it’s noisy; (2) it’s smelly (people using streets as public toilets; garbage not collected nearly frequently enough; no in-building incinerators any more); (3) everything is geared towards people making more than six $250k/yr.

    • June 1, 2009 9:48 PM

      Soho is definitely gentrified to the max! Old money is definitely UES, but some new money too. UWS, not sure… New money I guess. Plus all the Columbia students. LES side is the ghetto, I think you’re thinking the East Village.

      • tmana permalink
        June 1, 2009 11:08 PM

        Last time I was there, LES was as I remembered it, more or less (less Yiddishkeit, though that was dying as early as the 1970’s; still lower-income) but I keep reading how it’s the new Yuppie neighborhood… go figure!

  4. June 2, 2009 5:38 PM

    I live in Chicago, not New York, but I can totally identify with the “Hello, I’m walking here,” annoyance that comes with big-city tourists. I laughed and could precisely picture you in Times Square with the same annoyed look I get on my own face.

  5. June 2, 2009 11:57 PM

    Oooh, this is a nice post. I love NYC, more than is probably healthy. For me, it’s Grand Central Station, specifically the grand concourse, but pretty much the whole thing gets me jazzed. Also, the Chrysler Building is my talisman, rather than the ESB. Other things I love: the lions at the library, The Cloisters, and something that most people overlook, the water towers on the tops of buildings. They’re old and wooden and kind of rickety, but to me, they epitomize the city.

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