New York Tourist, an Evil Necessary


I work in the city and spend time there on the weekends.  I love to go into the city over the holidays.  It’s magical, colorful, fun and useful.  I need to shop and gather things to place under the tree. 

But this year, the crowds were the worst they have ever been.  As New Yorkers, we shouldn’t complain really.  The taxes charged on  everything help to support the infrastructure costs  and tourists keep parts of the economy humming.  But, they need a ‘How  to Walk the Streets of New York”  manual and learn (ahead of time) how to manage the streets of the city.  Nothing frustrates us New Yorkers more than the following them and dodging them on our sidewalks.  There are times I feel like I am slaloming up and down the sidewalks, avoiding near collisions.  All because they haven’t a freakin clue how to get around the sidewalks of  the city.  They do it in a way  that pisses me and every other New Yorker off.  Here are some of their techniques and suggested solutions.

On the Spot Stop”.  It’s as if they are the only ones on the sidewalk and they are unaware that others may be walking behind them in this busy city.  A sudden stop means a dog pile behind them.  It’s like driving a car, you would never ever stop in the traffic, why would you on a busy sidewalk?  Similar to driving rules,  pull over to the side of the sidewalk for last minute stopping needs.

Hey Look Up Now”  Similar to the “on the spot stop”, this one adds the look up at whatever motion.  Of course this one is usually done by a group so it consumes a lot of sidewalk space with clueless tourist.  We want you to look at the architecture, we really do.  BUT we want you do it on the side and not in the middle, or God forbid, at the corner of the pedestrian walkway.

We Walk Four Wide”  Maybe in the mid-west but not in New York City.  There are many of us and we actually need space to step ahead of you to get where we have to go.  This arm in arm thing works for couples but that’s it.  And at that, for loving couples, the type that are so tightly woven together, they actually take the space of one.  Unless your next stop is a hotel room, let go of your partner and let us through.

Is this Pace Slow Enough” Molasses moves faster than some of these tourists.  Really, it looks like you are slowly making your way back to your hotel with your pants full of something.  Afraid that anyone might notice.  Think of sidewalks as a four lane highway.  Slow pokes need to move to the far right, never in the passing lane on the left.  Now I know too many drivers who are clueless about this on the road and suspect that they are the guilty parties when visiting our Big Apple.

Should I Ask Her…. Look” You see them with their maps in hand, looking up and all around.  Usually its the women who have this look becasue men would never ask for direction.  Don’t be afraid to talk to us.  New Yorkers are some of the friendliest people I know.  Friendly of course in their own New York way.  What that means is if they know the answer to your request they will tell you.  They will not play the “I really don’t know but will try to be helpful and confuse you and send you on a wild goose chase”, game.  New Yorkers are direct and value honesty on the streets.  It’s not a popularity contest, it’s a business transaction.

I think I’m Lost Walk”  Walk like you know where you are,  even if you don’t.  If you feel uncomfortable, move to the far right and have a look at that map.  The same way I do when I am in a new place.

When you think of it, there are only 6 things you (if you are a tourist or a New Yorker who doesn’t know better) need to be aware of for a pleasant trip to New York.  Not obeying what we believe is just simple common courtesy will result in people like me barking at you to move to the side or hearing the sound of exasperation all around you and the sight of rolling eyeballs.


  1. I am still laughing Francine..I am a culprit I’m afraid! Points well taken….I will be aware when I visit the city again and try to remember the ABC’s of sidewalk etiquette! LOL.

  2. I loved this! As someone who spent my working career in Toronto, I’ve thought exactly those same things, especially if I was rushing to get a train home! It was really great to see this in writing. I guess I am a woman just like you!

  3. Andrea Marx says:

    Ditto on every comment.

    Now that I’m back on the East coast I thinks the NYC “obstacles” have gotten much worse.
    On a recent 60 Minute program it’s so bad in London, they are building a ad campaign asking tourists to avoid rush hour use of the subways and certain bus lines so residents can get to work on time without increased hassles.

    Do you think Mayor Bloomberg would consider this??!!


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