9 myths about New York that are completely untrue
If you are a big fan of TV series like Law & Order, CSI New York or Sex & The City, or have watched films like Breakfast at Tiffany's or The Wolf of Wall Street, chances are you have some pretty big misconceptions of what it’s like to live in or visit New York City. Movies cater to a vast audience. Movies have a significant role on how our society acts. But the truth is that movies have always been there to entertain. The main goal is entertainment.
Is New York City the scary crime-ridden place portrayed in crime TV shows? Are all New Yorkers snobbish and rude? Is everything expensive and luxurious? Well, experience should tell you by now that you can’t trust everything you see on TV.
If you dream about visiting the city that never sleeps, but haven't make it happen for real yet, read this carefully. These misconceptions that New York City is an expensive and dangerous city – and many others – might have been holding you back and are a significant obstacle in your way. The truth is that in New York City, you can find great things that fit all kinds of budgets.
Here are the nine most common misconceptions and myths about New York City. Lucas Compan, a New Yorker, helped me with all these tips and how to find much better options in the city – and that can be much more affordable.
9 – It is a very noisy city
Yes, the city can be noisy. Very loud. After all, this is a place where few people have backyards or cars, and apartments can be ridiculously small. The streets, subways and public places, in general, are loud and packed with people but that’s kind of why people like living or visiting here – it’s exciting and full of energy.
If you are in midtown Manhattan, where the majority of hotels for visitors and tourists are located, you will find this city particularly noisy and crowd. However, if you want somewhere quiet, you’ll find plenty of spots outside central Manhattan. Some areas in West Village, Greenwich Village, and waterfronts on both East and West ends of Manhattan. Also, in Brooklyn you will find places like Brooklyn Heights Promenade, where you experience the beauty and calmness of a small city, or in Astoria-Ditmars area , in Queens: it feels like you are in heaven and you wake up every single morning with birds singing to you.
8 – It's not a safe city
According to FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) data, New York City is the safest big city in the U.S., ranking above San Jose and San Diego, California. Another index, The 2017 Economist Safe Cities Index, New York City is one of the safest cities in the world.
Many people picture New York City as the urban jungle depicted in movies like Midnight Cowboy or Taxi Driver. While those films were shockingly realistic in their time, New York City has really cleaned up its act.
The city’s crime rate has dramatically decreased over the last three decades. That New York from the 1980s no longer exists. These days, the city's crime rate is impressively low.
I remember the day when I was chatting with a NYPD detective, while grabbing a slice of pizza, and he told me how boring most days could be, just because there's no action whatsoever. Some of them experience more action escorting a film production crew or set (many times a crime TV Show being filmed), than in real action. There's even a police special division for that: the NYPD Movie / TV Unit (watch the unit in action in the video below). Whether it conducts filming on bridges, highways, or busy intersections, the unit controls traffic to ensure that companies can get shots that may otherwise be impossible. Also, the city's many police related shows, such as Law & Order and Third Watch, generate "crime scenes" which are supervised by the Movie/TV Unit. The unit's responsibilities do not end there; the unit also monitors child work permits, stunts, prop firearms, placement of equipment, pedestrian safety, and parking. Then, as for crime, trust us on this one: it’s not near as bad as the movies make sit out to be.
7 – It's an insanely expensive city
Well, the truth is that it’s a lot more affordable to live here than visit. Hotel rooms are undoubtedly costly, but if you know where to go, you can keep expenses down. The trick? The secret ingredient here is to live like a New Yorker. Check out these tips we share with you now. Take the subway (or walk) instead of cabs (it can save you up to 100 US$ per day), don’t always eat out and when you do, go where the locals go. Many things in New York City are cheaper than they are in Europe or other big cities like Tokyo and São Paulo. So don’t think you won’t be able to afford making a trip to NYC (or more than one).
For example, instead of staying in a hotel, you could always find an apartment like I did. The last time I've been to New York, I stayed in an apartment in Astoria, a 15-minute subway ride from midtown Manhattan. It was way cheaper, very safe, in an incredibly quiet and adorable 24/7 neighborhood, and a lot more fun. It's really just a matter of making a good trip planning.
6 – New Yorkers are rude and self-centered
"Hey, you talkin’ to me? Great, nice to meet you. I’m in a rush, but I’m happy to give you directions and explain the MetroCard machine."
Yes, life in New York is rushed most of the time. But this one is just not true. At all. Are there rude people here? Well, yes, like anywhere else in the world. It's also true that many New Yorkers avoid any eye contact or conversation, but that happens because they don’t want to get stuck in an awkward situation or prefer to mind their own business. People here don't mind that much about what you're do or not doing. And there's an excellent aspect in this behavior – as oppose to a small city, where everybody knows (and talk about) everything regarding your life, probably even at what time you brush your teeth.
If you need help, New Yorkers will often offer every assistance possible. Just ask around, and you'll see it. They could even take a picture of you in between some funny statues (picture on the left-side). Oh, and don't worry if your English is not that good (or not good at all). New Yorkers are used to understand many accents and ways of speaking English. They don't bother at all about it. ThereAnd if the language is a real barrier for you, I can always assist you in every possible way, from the moment you made the decision to put your trip planning together to walking around and getting to know New York. After all, I'm an Italian who speaks both Italian and English.
5 – New York is Manhattan
If you’ve ever watched Seinfeld, Friends or Sex & The City you can quickly get the impression that all of New York is Manhattan, which is untrue. Manhattan is only a small portion of New York – in truth, less than 10% of New York territory.
New York is made up of five boroughs: Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, and Staten Island. All of these areas have their unique communities, architecture, and culture, so there’s plenty to see off the (Manhattan) island. By the way, besides Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens are also an island, part of Long Island.
Then, make a plan to explore other boroughs. Even in one week you could get to know some very interesting spots in any of the five boroughs of New York.
4 – It's too crowded everywhere
That's true, if you come around Christmas time or late spring. That's also true if you mostly stick to Midtown Manhattan. But in the neighborhoods where most New Yorkers live there’s plenty of space to walk, holding hands, enjoy an ice cream, watch a breathtaking sunset – and much more, listening to the sweet sound of birds and even seagulls.
Peace of mind like in a small city
Astounding views and calmness
Ice cream with a view and a sunset
An oasis with an amazing skyline
3 – It's just concrete
This is just incredibly wrong. New York City has more than 1,700 parks, playgrounds, and recreation facilities across the five boroughs. Visit the Official Website of the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation to find a partial list of parks in the city. New York is home to some of the best parks in the country. Here you can find a park for nearly everything from picnics to skate parks to beautiful sunsets.
Long Island City waterfront: a must-go
The beauty of central park in sprint time
Astoria Park: safety and peace for families & kids
Brooklyn Bridge Park and classic views
2 – Times Square is awesome
Not true. At all. Easy, easy! Don't be mad at me. Truth is that millions of tourists flock to Times Square every year, and it is consistently ranked as one of the top attractions in New York City – and in the world. Times Square is certainly a unique experience.
But once you get past the visual awe, there is not exactly a lot to do. With how much food costs around Times Square (and how bad it tastes), you are basically paying three times the normal price of things for the privilege of being bustled along with thousands of other tourists. According to OpenTable, there are 31,240 restaurants in New York. I can assure you the best are not in Times Square. By the way, did you know that it would take 22.7 years to eat at every New York City restaurant? You can pick your favorites from this list of the hottest restaurants in Manhattan right now (August 2018), the hottest restaurants in Queens right now (August 2018) or the hottest restaurants in Brooklyn right now (August 2018).
Same goes with the stores in and around Times Square, avoid it. Here's a list of where to find the best one-of-a-kind shopping in New York. Try not to buy anything in and around Times Square. Just take pictures. Lots of pictures. Take a good walk around, admiring the ballet of lights and colors. That's it. If it's your first time in New York City, it's a great tour. Go ahead and pay a visit to Times Square. You have to do that. But one or two hours later, go get to know incredibly more interesting places in the city. By the way, do you know why Times Square is called Times Square? Click here to find out.
1 – New York is about glamour 24/7
What can I say? New Yorkers are proud of their city, yes. But living here is far from the glamorous experience that many visitors and tourists think it is. Well, it's and incredible city, the vibrant vibe is amazing, there always something new to be learned or to be done. There's also a romantic aura around the city, there’s always something going on. This is very true. But living In New York has nothing to do with you see it the movies or TV series. People have their routines and bills to pay just like everyone else. Unless you’re a millionaire (New York State does not even make the list of Top 10 states ranked by millionaires per capita), living in New York is far from glamorous.
One of the crowdest subway lines in the city: 7 train
The rushing crowd in Grand Central Terminal
I think the glamour of New York City is around its diversity.
Even if you have never heard that New York is the home of several different ethnicities (you can find 800 different languages here), it would still become apparent to you within a few moments of when you arrived in the city.
Some people like to complain about the several differing ethnicities in New York, but this is how the city has been since its inception.
Wrapping this up: New York is fascinating. New York is one of the greatest cities (probably the greatest) in the world. If you dream about visiting New York City, put a good plan together and make it happen for real. It's much more affordable and possible than you could be thinking. New York City might feel a little bit intimidating at first. But it's just a matter of figuring out the proper mindset and you will navigate the city like a local. Cheers!