In A New York Minute: How “Manhattan” Are You?

CIMG4709Having spent most of my life as a New Yorker, so many of the ins and outs of navigating this dense and diverse city have long since become second nature to me. So much has changed over the decades, yet there are those aspects of NYC (Manhattan in particular) that iconically remain in place through the ages. Being familiar with them not only certifies you as a seasoned New Yorker, but enriches your Manhattanite experience (and sure makes it a lot more fun to watch Seinfeld and dig the references).

Michael will proudly admit that I’m his NYC navigator, and often tries to charm me with compliments and convince me that I’m a font of Manhattan knowledge. I tell him that it’s simpler than he thinks, but I’m reminded that it doesn’t come so easily to everyone, even the savvy-minded inhabitants who are not so new to the city. This prompted me to compile my own little insider’s guide to Manhattan— a miniature catalog of my not-so-secret facts, tips and trivia to get the most out of Manhattan, turning stress into satisfaction.

Even WNYC’s The Brian Lehrer Show is having a little fun with the same topic this week, asking listeners to offer their formulas on how long it takes to become a New Yorker. I’d like to take it a step further, and propose that, regardless of how long it takes, you can finally recognize the moment you’ve joined the ranks. Allow me to present to you…..You Know You’re a Manhattanite When:


-You’re aware that there are 20 north-south city blocks to a mile.

-You know that Fifth Ave divides Manhattan into the East Side and West Side, and that street addresses start at 5th Avenue. Each block to the east and west increases by 100 addresses. So, street numbers between 7th and 8th Avenues are the west 200s, and between 3rd and 2nd are the east 200s.

-You realize that generally, traffic is one way going east on the even-numbered streets and west on the odd numbered streets.

-You comprehend that a taxi with its middle light illuminated means it’s for hire. When there is no light illuminated, it already has a passenger. When the outside little lights are lit, it means the cabbie is off duty. 

-You know that there’s a strategy for which part of a subway platform to enter the train on, so when your train pulls into your destination, you’re positioned at the correct exit.


-You understand that the city is in a perpetual state of repair and expansion, and that as a result, scaffolding has to be accepted as part of the landscape of its façade….it ain’t goin’ away, folks!

-You’ve visited and can demonstrate to others the novelty of Grand Central Terminal’s whispering arch, located in front of the Oyster Bar.

-You’ve devoured THE BEST lunch or dinner deal in the city (NOT appropriate for a business meal) at Mamoun’s— $2.50 falafel.

-You’re informed that the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden at MoMA is open to the public for 75 minutes MoMA Sculpture Garden 2each morning.

…..And about the origin of the often referred-to “New York Minute”: You’re well aware that it’s the time between the traffic light turning green and the sound of a car honking for the head car to move.

Fill me in on what I’ve missed….what are some of your tips on becoming a seasoned Manhattanite?

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