Mathias Vestergaard Corp.

Creative Misfit

Six tips for blending in, in New York City

Published on November 23rd, 2008


Taking a cab from JFK on a rainy night

Actually, it is not so much the fact that I want to be like everyone else, I do want to stand out in a way. I would like to end up in the position, where neither myself or anybody else perceives me as a tourist or visitor.

It is kind of silly and I gladly admit that but I just want to emphasize that the most important focal point is not convincing others, but convincing myself. It all works inward (as a tribute to my at times introvert nature). Anyway, if you want to blend in too, here are six tips that you might find useful.

One: knowing the right places gives you so much credit. It is almost unbelievable, how much respect you can gain with this. Of course, not everyone will respond to this, but if someone asks you which places you want to go to, then you should know just a few of the places that are interesting. If you can just memorize this list, you should be well ahead of the competition: La Esquina (you love the tacos and the atmosphere downstairs), Freeman’s, Marlowe & Sons (in Brooklyn – very exotic, I know), Barrio Chino (their spicy margarita is fabulous), Frankie’s 17 (not as well known, but just insist that it is good) and the Beatrice Inn. Maybe even Prune (really good brunch). Having actually gone there is the next step… Of course there are plenty of other great places too, but those places seem to be well known and highly respected.

Two: learn the language. New Yorkers talk fairly fast and the say “fuck” all the fucking time. It’s like a fucking curse that fucking fucks with their fucking minds (hence the exaggeration). Just replicate – it is pretty fucking easy, right?

Three: memorize the map and have a backup on your phone. The more you are familiar with both the basic anatomy of the city and the actual street names, the more easily you can get around, without always looking at your maps. A little tip, when leaving the subway: always look on the sign above the exit, e.g. “EXIT Essex & Delancey NE corner”. When you reach street level, look for the crossroads – if you are at the north east corner looking at the intersection you’ll be facing south west…

Four: dress normal. Just because the 1986 edition of the guide book you’ve borrowed from your parents states that “New Yorker are always walking around in their white sneakers” , things have changed since. You don’t have to paint your face white and wear black layered clothing – not all  New Yorkers are considere fashionable. On the other hand: there is no harm in making a little effort.

Five: use public transport. Yes, you could walk from 8th avenue and 23rd street to Washington Square, but why not take the C or E train that takes you 90% of the distance?

Six: Tip as Rockefeller. Just do it. If you can’t afford a 20-25% tip at an expensive restaurant, just find a cheaper place to eat. You can get a burrito in the street for $5…

The above guidelines are not meant as an attack on your average tourist. I have no problem with the fact that some people actually want to spend their time visiting the Statue of Liberty. It must make sense to them and I respect that – it is a cultural symbol. It just doesn’t make sense to me. I’d rather just live here and relax and for me it makes great sense to get under the skin and know it. The decision is yours!


See also: Videos, Article: A tailored master of the stage, Article: Aarhus And The City – Part 3/3,


This entry was filed under Blog, Misc., New York, Urbanism.