An Open Letter to Tourists Visiting NYC

First, welcome to our city!  We not only love showing off our city to outsiders, the money you spend while visiting is very important to our economy.  Many New Yorkers enjoy employment because of you.  Thank you!

Sadly, we often hate you just as much as we need you.  You actually make it impossible for us to enjoy areas of our own city.  There are many of you and you all clump up in the same places.  (This is a curse and a blessing, since we at least we know what to avoid.  I would like to visit Rockefeller Center again someday…or Times Square…or a museum even.)

Also sadly, many of you will return to your homes thinking New Yorkers are mean or rude or ___, because you had a less-than-stellar experience with one or more of us.  On the contrary, we are quite nice and helpful.  We just don’t tolerate some things very well, particularly your complete oblivion to the way we live.

This man was probably an awesome tourist who didn't do anything I mention in my letter.

Here are some helpful hints that could make your visit to New York City more pleasant for all of us.

1)  On sidewalks:  Please NEVER STOP IN THE MIDDLE.  Would you stand in the middle of a highway?  If the answer is no, then you have no business stopping and standing in the middle of a NYC sidewalk.  Remember:  the vast majority of us do not drive.  The sidewalk is what we use to get to work and run our errands.  When you stop, particularly if you are part of a group, you essentially bring our traffic to a halt and disrupt our day.  Likewise, if you are part of a group, don’t walk more than two abreast and please keep moving at a moderate pace.  Again, clumping up and meandering creates sidewalk traffic jams and ill will. (sidewalk = highway)

2)  In bike lanes:  If you are not on a bicycle, don’t be in a bike lane.  Again, we use our bicycles as vehicles.  Bike lanes are for pleasure riding, but they are also important to commuters to get to and from work and home.  If you are on a bicycle, please pay attention to what you are doing and do not try to take pictures from your bike.  Also, DO NOT STOP IN THE MIDDLE OF THE BIKE LANE.  (bike lane = highway)

3)  On the subway: You have about two seconds to enter or exit the train–please move quickly!   If you are standing, make sure your backpack or bags aren’t hitting anyone around you.  If you are sitting, try to take up as little space as possible and don’t spread out over two or more seats.  If you aren’t sure where you’re going or if the conductor makes an announcement and you don’t know what he’s talking about, please do ask.  People will help you.  We all know that the subway can be confusing, particularly after hours and on weekends.

4)  On the Brooklyn Bridge:  There are two lanes clearly marked, one for bicycles and one for pedestrians.  Please see number 2.  And please also see number 1.  The Brooklyn Bridge does not span the East River for you to marvel at; it spans the East River to allow New Yorkers to travel back and forth between Manhattan and Brooklyn.  (Please continue to ignore the Manhattan, Williamsburg, and other bridges.)

5)  On escalators: if you don’t plan to climb, keep to the right, single file.  Many of us do not want to waste time riding up or down.  We actually climb the escalator.  We are hindered when you take up the entire step.

6)  At Ground Zero:  Please stop taking your picture smiling in front of what’s left of the WTC.  It’s creepy and inappropriate.

7)  And finally, when you are busy looking up, remember that you are looking at our homes.  We live everywhere.  You are never not going to be in our neighborhood.  Please conduct yourself the way you would want us to conduct ourselves if we were standing in your front yard.

Thank you for reading my letter.  I hope you enjoy your next visit to New York City–or any other large city.  Happy travels!

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