50 Signs You Grew Up In New York City

Kevin Dooley
Kevin Dooley

1. When you meet people and they say they’re from “the city” you immediately interrogate them on what exact borough, avenue, and cross streets they lived on to see if they really mean “the city” or somewhere “20 minutes from the city.”

2. You went to schools that actually had racial diversity.

3. You would spend hours browsing CDs at Tower Records.

4. You learned how to ride the subway and take public busses at a very young age.

5. You NEVER had to rely on your parent’s car.

6. When you watch mainstream movies about high school, you simply can’t relate.

7. You had friends from all socioeconomic backgrounds.

8. When you travel abroad, you always say “I’m from New York City,” and never “the States” or “America” or “USA.”

9. You have fond memories of FAO Schwarz, the Bronx Zoo, and the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens.

10. You get angry when the city you’re in doesn’t have a 24 hour subway.

11. When you watch movies and shows filmed in New York, you can almost always recognize where they are.

12. It takes a lot for a person to make you feel uncomfortable, as you’ve spent at least 18 years witnessing and interacting with the craziest of the crazies.

13. You know that Times Square is an atrocity.

14. You begged your parents to let you take gymnastics/horseback riding/ice skating lessons at Chelsea Piers even though it was way out of their price range.

15. You’ve accidentally walked through countless film sets and rarely even inquired as to what’s being filmed.

16. You didn’t go to Central Park as often as people would assume.

17. You indulged in “unusual” hobbies as there was always a program somewhere in the city that supported it.

18. You never learned how to drive, thus amusing all your college friends upstate.

19. You still don’t know how to drive.

20. You’ve tasted every kind of cuisine out there, from Ethiopian to Greek-Japanese-Spanish fusion.

21. Your Facebook albums from high school often feature the backdrop of good ol’ Union Square.

22. You dream of living in the same kind of apartment you grew up in.

23. Your high school had metal detectors and many security guards.

24. You know what the Grand Prospect Hall is, and you know what the owners look like.

25. You know who Doctor Zizmor is.

26. You know that it’s worth it to wait on line at Gray’s Papaya and Magnolia Bakery.

27. You know what black and white cookies are.

28. You never had a legitimate reason to feel bored.

29. You never had to wait long for your favorite band to come to town. They always did.

30. Choosing which high school to attend was like picking a college: there were hundreds, and each specialized in different things.

31. You feel weird when you’re not in a <.5 block radius of a pretzel, Nuts4Nuts, or hot dog stand.

32. You know where all 20 “original” locations of Ray’s Pizza’s are.

33. You know what a real bagel tastes like.

34. Your summers were enhanced by Italian Ices. No, not the freeze pops you get at Costco. The real thing.

35. You took field trips to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the American Museum of Natural History.

36. You know what neighborhoods were like before they got gentrified into their current states. Gentrification is a very real issue to you.

37. You never had to worry about how you would get home as the subway was always open and taxis were always around.

38. You have street smarts (or at least, you can claim you have street smarts).

39. You can walk, and are willing to walk, great distances.

40. You always secure your bike in a sea of chains and locks no matter where you are.

41. You never had to worry about leaving a house party, as there was always another one happening nearby.

42. Spending more than a dollar per dumpling is a cardinal sin.

43. You went to shows at the Knitting Factory well before you were 21.

44. You’re tolerant of crowded train rides, as you’ve spent your youth learning how to stand for 20 minutes between a man four times your size with a scratchy scarf and an older lady with six stuffed plastic bags.

45. You’re easily impressed by nice beaches, because all you had was Coney Island.

46. You’ve never been to the Empire State Building, or Ellis Island, or the New Year’s Eve Ball Drop.

47. Overflowing trash bags on the street don’t gross you out.

48. You don’t really know how to answer the question, “So what was it like growing up in NYC?” because you don’t know what it wasn’t like.

49. You find it very difficult to not just live with your parents in their apartment forever, for nothing more than the fact that they scored ideal location years ago. With rent control.

50. You have confidence that you could raise your kids here, because you turned out alright. Right? Thought Catalog Logo Mark

Like this? Check out Thought Catalog Books New York City anthology here.

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