New York Travel

Know your stereotypes!

Virginia R. Marshall

A member of the taxicab elite

Ah, New York City—so much to see, so much to do, and so many places to go. How you chose to get from place to place may be just as important as where you go. In this miraculously functional city of eight million, we are proud of our various modes of public transportation. So proud, in fact, that we will judge each other and you by the transportation you choose to take.

In a city where cool is currency, and just about anything can be a statement, how will you choose to roll? Lest you get lost in the options, or want to strategize your New Yorker identity, here is a guide to navigating the transportation stereotypes of New York City.

The Taxi-Bourgeoisie

Only the rich, the desperate, or the clueless use taxis as their primary mode of transportation. Read: owners of multi-million dollar homes on the Upper East Side, tourists, and…tourists.

The Metro-North Commuter

If you take the Metro-North train into the city, that means one of two things: You’re either a daily commuter with a full-time job in New York City, or you’re a thirteen-year-old girl about to see Wicked on Broadway for the third time. You are also viewed as an outsider. To those who live in NYC proper, anything north of Fordham is considered “Upstate.”

The Grand Central Gawker

Grand Central Station is notoriously the busiest commuting hub in Manhattan, but if you spend longer than four seconds gazing at the high vaulted ceiling (a gorgeous blue canopy of constellations), you will be seen as a tourist, labeled as a newb, and an ironic (obnoxious) New Yorker might well take a photo of you.

The Subway Sampler

Those who favor the subway are down-to-earth inhabitants of NYC in all of its five-borough glory. These travellers have honed high level survival skills and subway nous from years of training in learning to decipher cryptic directions such as “take the N, Q, or R west, transfer to D, then A, B, or C down until you can’t anymore.”

The Streetwalkers

If you prefer to walk the streets of NYC rather than take public transportation, chances are, you’re either a health-nut or you’re hoping that one of the many street-style photographers will fall madly in love with your sartorial sensibility. Navigating scaffolding, children, and sweaty underground fumes while keeping up with the New York walking speed takes dexterity and skill. To do it in style, however, is the ultimate goal.

The streets of NYC are the place to see and be seen. Study the habits of the New Yorker, watch what they’re doing, see what they’re wearing—and no one will be able to tell that you weren’t native. On the 20-block walk from Grand Central to Central Park, there were 51 people in horizontally striped shirts, and 38 carrying Starbucks cups. It’s safe to say that stripes are in, and the Starbucks franchise is flourishing.

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