New York, New Yoooork! While the city that never sleeps has always been a hotbed for dreamers and go-getters, its tourism numbers are at an all-time high. While 33 million or so annual tourists was the norm for NYC just 20 years ago, in 2017 it hit a record of 62.8 million visitors. Its resident population also hit a record 8.6 million this year, filling with entertainers and job-seekers to keep up with booming tourism and a strengthening economy. Not deterred from visiting this glitzy and grimy city? NYC die-hards are always trying to debunk rumors about the city, but here are four major NYC stereotypes that any tourist should know are 100% true.
Hole-In-The-Wall Restaurants Are Awesome
New York is a city full of ads, ads everywhere, especially for tourist attractions and food. Even outside the city, as a general rule 85% of a business’s potential customers live within a five-mile radius. Because of this, businesses often invest in flashy signage that their neighbors will be spotting 50 or more times every week until they’re convinced to walk in the door. The best, most established eateries in the city don’t need to rely on flashy signage. Ask some natives what the best food in New York is, and they probably won’t give you the name of the newest celebrity chef’s seafood chalet. Don’t be afraid to go off the beaten path when it comes to food. (Within reason! Don’t get sick!) As an added bonus, your food bill will be cheaper at the end of your trip.
There Are Crazy Subway Rats
Do you remember Pizza Rat? The little subway rat that went viral on YouTube back in late 2015 and showed us why “rodent control” is a popular NYC profession? Today he has over 10.4 million views, and his influence still rocks non-NYC folks’ worlds. Are there actually huge scary subway rats, people ask? Yes, yes, yes. Rats thrive in packed cities like New York. Thanks to an abundance of food and trash, they’re fed. With all the dark nooks and crannies, they’re hidden. So yes, you’ll probably see a fat black alley rat or subway lurker. Just don’t try to pet it.
Black Clothes, Never Open Toes
Ah, the chic black wardrobe of city yuppies and socialites. Streetwear and fashion week styles abound of course, but as any seasoned New Yorker can tell you, black is the way to go. Walking down a busy Manhattan street, take a look at the crowd. Lots of black coats and suits, guaranteed. On top of that, flip flops are practically a cursed wardrobe item in New York. Not only are they fairly unfashionable, they’re uncomfortable for walking (well over half of the five boroughs’ residents don’t own a car) and they leave your feet open to every sharp object and gross puddle in the city streets. Although the rare New Yorker will opt for flip flops or sandals occasionally, they’re usually a marker of a tourist.
It’s Expensive, and More So For Tourists
Why do you want to look less like a tourist? You’ll spend less money. It’s no secret that New York is one of the most expensive places in the world. Many people can barely avoid a studio apartment on their own, opting instead to squat in a storage rental unit or on a friend’s couch. Good luck, though, even the storage is expensive — around $137 per month, barely more affordable than the top four of San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Jose. Hopefully as a tourist, you won’t be suckered into buying an apartment, but you WILL be targeted for higher prices and scams. Remember, the less you look like a tourist, the less you’ll have to deal with being overcharged on lodging, food, and anything else you buy there. Also, NYC is one of the top tourist scam cities, and people get creative. Look up some popular scams this year before you go so you’re aware when you’re getting swindled.
Some people visit New York for the first time with unrealistic expectations and leave disappointed. Know what you’re walking into and where to find the magic, and you’ll be fine. Enjoy the city!