Im almost completely positive that walking in nyc is an art form. Something someone is either born with or not. I think you can probably learn how to walk well in nyc but to be a real professional walker is something in your genes. or maybe possibly it could be part of evolution.
you know the whole you adapt to the surroundings part of evolution not the "i came from a fish or monkey" evolution.
My parents are transplant ny'ers. My mom from a teeny tiny town in ma and my dad from philly. They lived in nyc for a while while my dad was in seminary. My mom was completely out of her comfort zone. newly married with a toddler in a roach filled apartment.
She learned the subways and the city by trial and error.
My dad was from a more city like environment. So it may have come easier. I don't know. He says it was easier. My mom is a little more open about how it was for her when they moved.
all of this completely not the point.
While walking around the city the other day. I noticed three different kind of people.
1.The strollers (not moms with strollers that is a whole different category of art) are people usually tourists that just walk around and look at the sights. looking up at the buildings with cameras flashing at everything.especially if they see someone famous. these people will most likely stop and ask to take a picture. usually walking at a slower place then the rest of the city. You can pick these people out of a crowd. Usually with bags so tightly around them bc they have not realized that the city is not the same as it was in 1985. No need to turn your fancy rings around and hide all your valuables while walking around chelsea. The people who are walking around make wayyyyy more money than you do and the apartments cost more a month that your entire trip to the city. They have no reason to steal your purse or take your diamonds. (side note, I'm not stupid people steal everywhere. I watch my stuff) Also these people are usually always wearing running sneakers. freshman and newly transplanted "Broadway stars" fall into this
2. the second kind The burbs. These are the people who are comfortable in the city. It takes a minute for these people to get their footing. Walking up from penn station with a cloudy frazzled look. It leaves shortly after they start walking around. These people come to the city often enough to know how the streets work and the flow of the walking. Still a little enamored by the sights but less likely to stop in the middle of the street to look up or take a photo. unless someone is doing something silly or to take a photo of yourself with your iPhone or if you see a famous person but will never ask bc they understand that famous people live in ny so that they don't have to deal with la (and because its cooler)
You usually won't find these people in times square or at the empire state building. unless they are bringing out of towners or its Christmas time and they do the once a year trip to try and slither their way through the mobs of people to see "the tree".
its usually a little harder to point these people out. tell tail signs are usually the way they dress (usually less trendy) they can walk around with ease and can bob and weave through the people about half way through the trip. these people also stop and wait for the little man on the sign to say you can walk. rarely ever crossing when that hand is up! second year college students also fall into this category
I'd like to think alan and i fall into this category. With a little more of type number 3 bc i have been walking around the city with a stroller for 9 years. (thats a whole different post)
3. the third kind of people ny'ers these are the people who live or work in Manhattan or have been in college for more than 2 years. They move through the streets with ease.knowing when to cross the streets by sound. I'm convinced that they have better hearing and can sense when a car is coming. rarely ever paying attention to the crossing signals only to their sense of hearing to tell them when to cross the street.
the ny'ers know that you NEVER go into times square on the weekends or between the months of june and october and NEVER between Thanksgiving and January 10th. even if people from out of town come. Some might go and see the big tree once but never to skate at the rock. These people know that you never eat at a chain restaurant unless you go to florida or long island. They also will probably never take a photo of a famous person. Unless its someone SUPER cool.
You can only tell these people from the rest bc the people who work in the city dress super awesome and professional and are usually wearing a pretty pricey suit with running sneakers so they can run around and catch the train with the rest of the mob. The live in's are usually super trendy and dress awesome.
Ny'ers know that the best pizza is some little hole in the wall way away from the crowd and that the vendor food is really awesome. They also know never to eat at a vendor that has less than 2 people on line in front of you. These people are looked at as rude but when you know them they are pretty awesome people. I mean if you lived in a city with that many people you wouldn't say hi either. you wouldn't have time to do anything else if you actually answered "hey how are you" with anything other than "good how are you"
ohhh how i long to live in the city one day!!!
i don't consider myself an expert on this topic but i have lived on long island my whole life and have traveled to the city more than any place else in the world. And i am a professional people watcher. Its a thing i promise ;)