You Know You’Re From New York When…

As the legendary Frank Sinatra song goes, ‘if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere.’ New York is a one-of-a-kind place that gets into your bones. From the fast pace to the acute senses of direction, there are many quirks and characteristics that set native New Yorkers apart. If you’ve ever wondered about the telltale signs that someone is a true New Yorker, read on.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: Some classic signs you know someone is from New York include how they talk, walk, eat pizza, handle transportation, and thrive on the hustle and bustle of city life. The subtle nuances of a New York state of mind are what make the city so unique.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore all the iconic signs and traits that identify someone as a tried and true New Yorker, from navigating the subway to ordering a bagel. Whether you were born and raised in NYC or are just an admirer from afar, you’ll find plenty of amusing insights into what makes the Big Apple natives so one-of-a-kind.

The New York City Attitude and State of Mind

New York City is known for its unique attitude and state of mind. Those who call the city home possess a certain confidence and no-nonsense persona that sets them apart. The fast pace of life in the city contributes to this mentality, shaping the way New Yorkers interact with the world around them.

Thriving on the Fast Pace

In New York City, everything moves at lightning speed. From the bustling streets to the crowded subway cars, there is a constant energy that fuels the city’s residents. New Yorkers have a remarkable ability to thrive in this fast-paced environment.

They are always on the go, juggling multiple tasks and responsibilities without skipping a beat. The city’s vibrant atmosphere pushes them to be efficient, resourceful, and constantly adapt to new challenges.

The Confident and No-Nonsense Persona

New Yorkers are known for their confidence and directness. They have a no-nonsense attitude that is rooted in their belief in themselves and their ability to get things done. This confidence is reflected in the way they communicate, often speaking their minds without hesitation.

New Yorkers are not afraid to voice their opinions or stand up for what they believe in, making them a force to be reckoned with.

Being confident doesn’t mean being arrogant. New Yorkers are also known for their resilience and perseverance. They have a “never give up” mentality that helps them overcome obstacles and achieve their goals.

This mindset is essential in a city where competition is fierce and opportunities are abundant.

People Watching and Street Smarts

One of the unique aspects of New York City is the opportunity for people watching. With a diverse population and a constant flow of tourists, the city offers a never-ending parade of interesting characters.

New Yorkers take full advantage of this by honing their street smarts and becoming expert observers. They can quickly assess situations and read people, helping them navigate the complex social dynamics of the city.

Living in New York City also requires a certain level of street smarts to stay safe and avoid scams. New Yorkers learn to be vigilant and aware of their surroundings, always keeping an eye out for any potential dangers.

This street smart mentality is not just about self-preservation but also about being savvy and resourceful in a city that demands it.

For those who call New York City home, the attitude and state of mind are an integral part of their identity. It’s what sets them apart and helps them thrive in the fast-paced and vibrant environment of the city.

Speaking with the New York Dialect and Slang

The Distinct Accent

One of the most recognizable traits of a true New Yorker is their distinct accent. The New York dialect is often characterized by a strong emphasis on certain vowel sounds and the dropping of letters at the end of words.

For example, instead of saying “coffee,” a New Yorker might pronounce it as “caw-fee.” This unique accent has been immortalized in movies and television shows, making it instantly recognizable to people around the world.

Use of Iconic Slang Words and Phrases

New Yorkers are known for their colorful vocabulary and iconic slang words and phrases. From the classic “fuhgeddaboudit” to the ubiquitous “yo,” the New York slang adds a certain charm and character to the way locals communicate.

These slang words and phrases have become so ingrained in the culture that they are often used without a second thought. For example, instead of saying “I don’t know,” a New Yorker might simply say “I dunno.”

Some of the most popular New York slang words and phrases include:

  • Bodega: A corner store where you can buy just about anything.
  • The City: Referring specifically to Manhattan, as opposed to the other boroughs.
  • Cabbie: A taxi driver.
  • Slice: A single piece of pizza, often enjoyed on the go.

These words and phrases are not just limited to casual conversations among friends, but are also commonly used in everyday situations and even in professional settings. It’s important to note that while some of these slang words and phrases may be unique to New York, others have made their way into popular culture and are understood by people from all over the world.

If you’re interested in learning more about the New York dialect and slang, there are several websites and resources available that provide a comprehensive list of words and phrases. One such website is Urban Dictionary, which offers a user-generated database of slang terms and their meanings.

Exploring these resources can give you a deeper understanding of the unique language spoken in the Big Apple.

Signature New York Food Orders and Habits

Folding Pizza Slices

When it comes to pizza, New Yorkers have a unique way of enjoying their slices. One of the most recognizable habits is folding the slice in half before taking a bite. This technique allows for easier handling and prevents the toppings from falling off.

It’s a skill that every New Yorker develops over time, and it’s a sure sign that you’re a true local.

Egg Sandwiches and Bodega Coffee

For many New Yorkers, starting the day with an egg sandwich and a cup of bodega coffee is a ritual. These no-frills breakfast options can be found on almost every street corner, and they provide a quick and satisfying way to fuel up before a busy day.

Whether you prefer your eggs on a roll or a bagel, topped with bacon or cheese, there’s no shortage of options to satisfy your morning cravings.

Bagels with Schmear

New York City is famous for its bagels, and no visit to the Big Apple is complete without trying one. Whether you prefer a classic plain bagel or something more adventurous like an everything bagel, the key to a true New York bagel is the schmear.

Cream cheese is the go-to spread, and you’ll find a variety of flavors to choose from, including plain, scallion, and lox. Pair your bagel with a strong cup of coffee, and you’ll have a breakfast that’s the envy of food lovers everywhere.

Navigating New York City Like a Pro

Living in New York City can be both exciting and overwhelming, especially for those who are new to the city. However, with some insider knowledge and a few tips, you can navigate the bustling streets of the Big Apple like a true pro.

Knowing the Subway System Inside Out

The New York City subway system is the lifeline of the city, and knowing how to navigate it is essential for any New Yorker. With 472 stations and 27 subway lines, it can seem daunting at first, but with a little practice, you’ll be zipping around the city in no time.

One of the first things to familiarize yourself with is the subway map. It’s available both online and in print, and it’s important to study it and understand the routes and connections. Each line has a specific color, and each station is indicated by a dot on the map.

This will help you plan your journey and figure out which trains to take.

Another important aspect of the subway system is knowing the rush hour timings. During peak hours, the trains can get extremely crowded, so it’s best to avoid traveling during those times if possible. Additionally, certain lines may have service changes or delays, so it’s always a good idea to check for updates on the MTA website or through mobile apps for real-time information.

Hailing Cabs and Understanding Alternate Side Parking

In New York City, hailing a yellow taxi is a quintessential part of the experience. However, there are a few tricks to ensure a successful cab-hailing adventure. First, make sure you are standing on the correct side of the street.

Taxis can only pick up passengers heading in the same direction as their current route. So if you’re on the wrong side, you may find yourself waiting for a while.

When hailing a cab, be sure to stand out and make yourself visible. Raise your arm high, and if possible, try to make eye contact with the driver. Once you’ve successfully hailed a cab, communicate your destination clearly and make sure the driver understands where you want to go.

It’s also customary to tip the driver around 15-20% of the fare.

Another aspect of navigating New York City like a pro is understanding alternate side parking. Parking in the city can be a challenge, especially with the alternate side parking regulations. These regulations require drivers to move their cars to the opposite side of the street on designated days to allow for street cleaning.

It’s crucial to be aware of the scheduled cleaning days and times to avoid hefty parking tickets.

Embracing New York Entertainment and Nightlife

New York City is renowned for its vibrant entertainment scene, offering an unrivaled array of options for residents and visitors alike. From world-class Broadway shows to iconic comedy clubs and music venues, the city that never sleeps truly lives up to its reputation when it comes to entertainment and nightlife.

Attending Broadway Shows

When it comes to theatrical performances, Broadway is the place to be. The iconic Theater District in Midtown Manhattan is home to some of the most legendary stages in the world, attracting talented actors, singers, and dancers from across the globe.

Attending a Broadway show is a quintessential New York experience that should not be missed. From timeless classics like “The Phantom of the Opera” and “Les Misérables” to newer productions like “Hamilton” and “Dear Evan Hansen,” there is a show for everyone’s taste.

Not only does Broadway offer exceptional performances, but it also showcases the best of the best in terms of production value. Elaborate sets, stunning costumes, and breathtaking choreography transport the audience into another world for a few magical hours.

It’s no wonder that people from all over the world flock to New York City to witness the magic of Broadway firsthand.

Hitting Iconic Comedy Clubs and Music Venues

New York City is also renowned for its vibrant comedy and music scene. The city is a hub for both established and up-and-coming comedians, offering a plethora of comedy clubs where you can catch a hilarious stand-up show.

From the legendary Comedy Cellar in Greenwich Village to Carolines on Broadway in Times Square, there are plenty of opportunities to laugh until your sides hurt.

For music enthusiasts, New York City is a treasure trove of iconic music venues. Whether you’re into jazz, rock, hip-hop, or any other genre, you’ll find a venue that caters to your musical preferences.

From the historic Apollo Theater in Harlem to the legendary Madison Square Garden, the city offers a diverse range of options for music lovers to enjoy live performances by renowned artists.

Additionally, New York City is known for its vibrant nightlife, with countless bars and clubs that cater to all tastes and preferences. From trendy rooftop bars with breathtaking views of the city skyline to underground speakeasies tucked away in hidden corners, the nightlife in New York City offers something for everyone.

So, whether you’re a theater enthusiast, a comedy lover, a music aficionado, or simply someone who enjoys a vibrant nightlife, New York City has it all. Embrace the city’s entertainment and nightlife scene, and you’ll create memories that will last a lifetime.


From the way they talk, walk, and eat to how they handle the streets, subways and entertainment scene, New York natives have a profound connection to their city. The fast-paced attitude, street smarts, beloved foods, and cultural institutions of NYC get ingrained as defining traits. So next time you’re wondering if someone is a true New Yorker, listen for the accent, watch them hail a cab, and ask them for directions to Carnegie Hall. When you know the signs, you’ll know you’re dealing with a seasoned pro of the Big Apple.

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