One thing all New Yorkers learn is that non-locals have a lot of questions about our hometown. Sure, they love to read about it and watch TV and movies set in the city. But to a non-New Yorker, there’s nothing like finding an actual resident to get the real scoop on what it’s like to be a permanent part of the big city. “Where do New Yorkers buy groceries?” Are there even grocery stores?”
We get questions from all corners of our lives, but some of the best come when we’re out among the many visitors to New York, who never hesitate to stop us and ask whatever is on their mind. Here is a round-up of some of the more common questions — and their answers:
1. Where do you get your groceries?
The answer to this one always shocks people: at the grocery store. Yes, we know there are no grocery stores in Times Square or on Fifth Avenue, or next the big museums, but there are plenty of them in other neighborhoods.
2. So people really raise their children here?
Absolutely! With its many parks, large close-knit communities, world-class museums and 24-hour access to just about anything, many parents say they couldn’t dream of raising their families anywhere else.
3. How can you possibly make sense of the subway map?
We admit it, at first glance the New York City subway map looks like a bad crayon scribble. The trick is to figure out which direction you’re heading in — North, South, East or West — then concentrate on the lines that go in those directions. It’s much easier if you focus on one borough at a time too. Don’t worry, you’ll get it.
4. Wait… this is an island?
Yes, believe or not, four of New York’s five boroughs are on islands. While Brooklyn and Queens are both at the western end of Long Island, Manhattan and Staten Island sit on their own. But that’s only part of the story. New York City is actually an archipelago of forty-two islands, some so small they’re only visible at low tide.
5. So where is Old York?
No kidding, people actually ask us this.
6. Is New York City safe?
In a city as big as ours, some areas are safer than others. But overall, New York is one of the safest big cities in the world. As with any unfamiliar location, visitors should always use common sense, stay in well-lit areas and avoid walking alone at night, but with a good awareness of your surroundings, you should have no trouble feeling safe.
7. Where is the nearest chain restaurant?
Tourists to New York are always looking to eat in their favorite fast-food or chain restaurant when they visit. This baffles us. Wherever you are in New York, you’re likely within walking distance of some of the best food in the world. Step out of your comfort zone and try something new. It will probably be an experience you’ll never forget.
In a city as endlessly fascinating as New York, we understand that there will always be things non-locals want to know, and for the most part New Yorkers are happy to help. Just please don’t ask us about Old York.