You’ve never been to New York but now you’re days from arriving and started feeling a bit anxious about it? Well, that’s super normal, especially when we’re talking about a city like New York. So, I decided to share 16 things NO ONE EVER tells you about NYC, for the 1st timers.
There are a few rules and tips to make your NY experience seamless and memorable. We split this topic into 4 different posts, so check out Part 1 with the first 4 things NO ONE EVER tells you about NYC!
#1 Yes! New York is safe!
Ok. Let’s start from the basics. We all know how dangerous New York was back in the 80’s and 90’s when the city was hit with a huge crack epidemic and we had the famous mobs roaming around.
Most of you have probably heard of the Zero Tolerance Policy, led by Mayor Rudy Giuliani when he was elected back in 1994. There is a lot to this topic and controversial statements, but let’s keep it simple. Bottom line, crime rates were drastically reduced.
It was published in The Economist, back in 2015, that New York was the 10th safest city in the world. Then, in 2017 it showed that we had fallen 11 places, today ranking 21st. But still, it continues a pretty safe place.
That said, like every other big city, there are pickpockets, you should be careful not to roam into some neighborhoods and be careful at night. If you’re in doubt, just ask a friend or talk to your hotel’s concierge.
In addition, most of the crimes in NY, happen in late night hours, so just stay alert, but enjoy the freedom that the city can offer us today!
#2 Use the Subway!
I’m from São Paulo, a city with over 20 million people, hence many time bigger than New York, but our subway system is very limited (even though it’s starting to super slowly improve).
But, when you have a “small” city like New York, where you can commute almost anywhere, it’s an indescribable joy! Hahaha!
It’s also a great way to feel like a true New Yorker and experience our crazy lifestyle!
The subway maps are pretty easy: most lines travel North – South and only a few East – West. You can download one of the APPs like NYC Subway or City Mapper to help you out! I’ve been here for 4 years, and still like to check on them, depending on where I’m commuting to!
Now, this is very, very, VERY important! When train arrives, always wait for e-v-e-r-y-o-n-e to come out, before you try to walk in. If you’re just randomly daydreaming and standing in front of the door when it opens, you’ll most likely be run over or called upon. Yikes! (I talk more about this on the topic below!)
Inside a crowded train try and put your backpack in front of you to make space for more people (even if you feel like a sardine in a can). If you’re sitting down, sit in a way that more people fit beside you. For the Manspreaders (men that sit with their legs widely spread out, occupying more that 1 seat), please be mindful! And please, don’t eat on the subway – it’s not a restaurant!
Another tip! Some people get so happy when all the other subway cars are full, and they walk “miraculously” into an empty one! It’s like feeling you’re the smartest one around, right? Well, New Yorkers are not stupid or blind, my dears, that’s for sure…so there’s likely something very wrong with that car. Be sure to check it out!
Oh! And girls, be sure to leave you heels at the hotel. You can use them to go out at night, when you might prefer just getting an Uber.
#3 Walk! But don’t EVER block the passage way!
YOU might be on vacation, but many people around you are probably running to work!
Sidewalks are like freeways, in New York City! No joke…! So, when you’re walking down the streets and you feel it’s THAT time, where you want to take a selfie or an Instagram picture, be sure to step aside, out of the main passage. Otherwise you might hear a very loud “EXCUSE ME!”
People say that New Yorkers are rude and I strongly disagree! They are very solicitous if you’re lost and need help but, like every other busy human late for work, they won’t enjoy daydreamers blocking the streets. You can take a look at this post we did about “31 Curious Facts About New Yorkers We Just Love“, this way, you’ll get the hang of it!
Oh! This is also true for the subway escalators and stairs! If you’re walk up or down any stairs, but especially in the subway, be sure to follow the flow on the correct side, usually, your right side. On an escalator, if you don’t want to rush up, stay to your right side too, letting people that do.
And I forgot to mention. While walking on the streets, on the busiest ones especially, don’t just suddenly turn or stop. You have to look, and “kinda signal” your next move to avoid collision.
Lastly, if you’re waiting for the light to cross the street, but there’s absolutely no cars coming, even though it’s NOT the correct thing to do, many people just cross it. I mean, just be very careful if you do that or simply step aside for anyone that wants to go head!
#4 Understanding New York’s Map
Ok, let’s start with first things first. Number one is maybe noticing that most streets are named through numbers, making it pretty easy to locate yourself or how to get to your destination.
The street numbers officially start at 1st Street on the East Side and 3rd Street on the West Side of Manhattan. From there, numbers go up, up, up to 220th, but that’s all the way up in Inwood, on the very North tip of Manhattan. That’s where The MET Cloisers museum is located!
From North to South, street blocks are shorter to walk through, while East to West, the blocks are significantly longer. Also East to West are only the Avenues – starting from York Avenue, through 11th Avenue (a.k.a. West End Avenue). On the very extremes, you’ll find the highways: 12th Avenue and the FRD Drive.
In between the numbered Avenues, you have some of the famous ones like Madison Avenue, Park Avenue and Lexington Avenue. Broadway also crosses the city diagonally, starting on the Upper West Side, all the way down to Battery Park.
Lastly, just for your reference, Central Park starts at 59th Street (a.k.a. Central Park South), up through 110th Street (a.k.a Central Park North), in Harlem. “The Secrets Of Central Park Walking Tour” will give you some more insights and secrets about the park!
Don’t freak out…it’s not as complicated as it sounds. Just grab a map or check Google Maps along the way, and you’ll be fine!
If you enjoyed these first 4 tips about things NO ONE EVER tells you about NYC, be sure to check our Part 2!
For any questions regarding travel or event planning for Corporate Groups, contact our experts to help you out!
Photo Credits: ©Behind the Scenes NYC and courtesy of Brendan Church
*Last Update on March/2020.*