NYC Adventuring: Urban Studies

[aside title=”UrbanAid”] There is a world outside of this City; let’s share some facts and navigational tips about it.[/aside] How to traverse the City.

New York City is home to a timeless art, the Art of Jay Walking. Jay walking is simply one of the many objective areas of how to traverse the Land of Manhattan. Many New Yorker’s already know what I am going to teach you here; I am writing this article for the tourist or the out-of-town-er so that they may integrate and feel what it truly means to be a NY’er. Besides, this information will help anyway navigate our area with ease.

Transportation:
NYC is home to some of the greatest transportation services around, The MTA. However, if you ask any local, they will most likely be curing the MTA off for a 25 cent fare hike or a Local Train turned Express. Along with the MTA we have one of the greatest Taxi networks around. Wait at most five minuets and a taxi will come your way.

     Subways:

  1. When using the subways, it is important to keep in mind that you should never, ever have to use more then three different lines to get to your destination. If you are smart enough, all you need is a maximum of one transfer and you will be at your destination.
  2. Never, Ever, Never go downtown to go uptown. It is a waste of time and a sign of ignorance of our systems. Even if you must walk one more city block, it always pays to go in the direction of your destination.
  3. The subways run parallel to the direction of traffic. For example: On Park Ave. (A two lane Avenue), the traffic going Uptown (Never Say North) will have the uptown subway line running along it. The same for the Downtown side.
  4. Subways usually run on an 8-Min gap off-peak hours. On peak hours, there are twice as many trains.
  5. You never have to time a trip via subway, just enter the platform and go.
  6. You can purchase a single ride (Good for Two Hours) for @2.75 or a 10 Trip for about $11.00. There are several other denominations including a $90.00 (Roughly) monthly unlimited pass. If you use it twice a day, it pays for itself. If you use it three or more times a day you are getting one over on the MTA and more than you paid.
  7. Google Maps is great to use with your trip but for some reason it doesn’t show you the quickest routes. Take 10-min of your time and figure the system and the lines our for yourself and you can beat GoogleMaps.
  8. There is a connotation out there with our Subways, that they aren’t safe – This is a load of BS. Every subway is safe in the Heart of Manhattan, “In The Heart Of Manhattan!” If you catch yourself at 2:00 AM on a Platform in one of Boroughs and it’s just you on one side and a group of people on the other staring you down; do not worry – You aren’t a tourist, you are your favorite action hero. Just put on a different persona, don’t look at the ground (it shows fear and weakness), act confident and act like you belong. If you do happen to get cornered, start talking to yourself and convince them you are crazy, you can even start making animal noises – it does work :)

    Busses:

  1. Busses use the same standard Metro-Card as the Subway system uses.
  2. They are frequently crowded so avoid them during Rush Hour.
  3. They can also be a nice mode of transportation, you can do some sightseeing and enjoy the fresh air as you are driven to your destination.
  4. Busses are a great way to travel cross town when you are not near the Cross town subways

     Taxis

RULES and Laws For Passengers:

  • If a Taxi has its ‘Available’ light on you can legally open his door and jump in – Drives like to lock their door and open their window to ask where you are going so as to save them a long trip in a direction they want to go.
  • The Taxi Lights: The center section is light up = Available and Open
  • The Taxi Lights: The two outer light are on = Off Duty
  • The Taxi Lights: The lights are Off = Has a Passenger
  • The New Taxi Lights: Light Is On = Available
  • The New Taxi Lights: Light Is Off = Has a Passenger
  • A driver can never ask you to leave his taxi based on your destination. You can legally have your cabbie take you anywhere in Manhattan and the Five-Bouroughs and he has to drive you there. Be respectful – Don’t make him go to Staten Island, its a terribly hard trip to make.
  • Your Cabbie CAN reject a trip to JFK (laws may have changed)
  • Lights On – You can walk in – He must take you to your destination
General Information
  1. Hailing a Cab: It is easy, stand somewhat into the street, not on the sidewalk , and stick your arm into the air. Make sure to spot an Available Light Taxi.
  2. Be aggressive, you may be competing with several other people for the same cab.
  3. Always be on the side of the street facing the direction you want to go. Uptown Destination means Uptown side of the street or an Uptown Street.
  4. You can pay Credit/Debit or Cash
  5. Never wait in line at the taxi stands outside of Penn or Grand Central – They take forever, and if you just walk a few more blocks you can find your own cab with out waiting in line. It is a lot quicker – You’re a New Yorker Now, think independently.
  6. Don’t go Cross-Town during Rush Hour! It will take forever! It is one of the hardest, longest, and most expensive things to do. You can walk faster. I walked cross town in the rain carrying a 60lb Printer because I jumped out of a Cab who took 7-Min to go 2 1/2 blocks. I made it home in 12-Min and saved $15.00.
  7. There are One-Way streets all over NYC – Knowing which one’s are where in relation to your destination could save you time and money. Instead of having your driver circle around 5-blocks just so you can get right in front of your destination is stupid because if you look out your window you can see your destination one block away. He will take you around so as to get more money but i’m sure you can just walk the extra one block and save yourself. If you are smart you can direct your driver down the proper one-way street which puts you adjacent to your destination and makes it easier for everyone.
  8. Don’t forget, if you know, to tell your driver which side of the street your destination is on before he gets there. This will make it easier for you and him.
  9. Most drivers keep quiet and to themselves – If you get a friendly driver please tip them well. We need more friendly drivers. This is operating out of the Psychological Reward Bases System and it works. It is how our bosses get us to do more work via Pay Raises and Bonuses. You want friendlier cab rides, and extra dollar a ride will make that happen.
  10. You are going to love this fun fact – it goes with item #9 : Back in time before Lincoln was President we had plantations. White people owned them, Black people were slaves. Soon after slavery was abolished blacks were allowed to be Free. Many of them were offered to a Salary to work on that same plantation. It was all they knew so they took the job. This is where it gets fucked up. The Plantation owners and Speculators began price fixing and gouging. They sold you your equipment and where the people you sold your Corn, Wheat, and Rice too. The plantation owner required 10% of your profits, but you were already in debt because you were loaned new equipment but the Spectators were always sharing a split of your profits with the plantation owners. Share-Cropping was the system. You would approach a Plantation Owner and say, “I want land to make money.” He would give you a plot of land at the price you could pay up-front or at the end of season. Most were poor so went for the end-of season pay. They had the land and now needed to come up with the money to pay for it plus 10% of profits. When they couldn’t pay they were in debt. Our NYC Taxi operate under the Share-Crop system. An immigrant comes from India or Pakistan seeking a good life. They go to JFK and get their licensee and are bonded. Well first they learn English, Study, and Raise $300.00. After they pass the test they walk into any of our Taxi companies and ask for a car. Some companies have fixed their problem and moved forward and only take the money for the car up-front; other will loan the cab to you on your credit and demand a pay at the end of your “Cabbie Day.” Some drivers will make several thousand a day which is wonderful; if you don’t own your own cab, you make roughly $125 – $300 a day. If there are no expenses, dings, scratches, or gas isn’t needed. If you don’t make wage you owe the company the difference for that day and you have to hope that tomorrow is better. Tips can often go to paying this daily debt. Tipping your driver One More Dollar or even leaving a tip for that matter could help them off – or could ensure friendlier cab rides all around :)

   Walking 

  1. Everyone should be walking! It is the most fun and sometimes the fastest for short destinations
  2. If you are sightseeing please walk to the right side of the street; NY’er in a rush will run you over to get to where they need to be.
  3. If you are crossing a street, to a NY’er that “White/Red Walking Man” Light means nothing. We look for two things, the “Red Traffic Light” and the nearest on-coming car. If he is breaking and far enough away, we are going. If there is no traffic and no turning cars we are going. The light doesn’t matter. If there is a line of cars stuck at a green light, we are going, in-between the cars. No one wan’t a “Man Slaughter” charge slapped onto their license. Pedestrians have the right of way. Cars will always stop for you. BUT they can’t always stop for you – So don’t be stupid and try to lay Frogger. We don’t play frogger, we are experienced and know when to walk, we know when a car is stopping and when we he going to try and make the yellow light. When I am in a rush I go as far as to look at the driver in the on-coming lane. I can see it on his/her face if he is going to push a yellow light or stop. Often, making eye contact to ensure a driver see’s you ensures your safety.
  4. Drunk walking can be just as dangerous as Drunk Driving – The only time to Jay Walk like that (Mentioned Above) is when you are sober and in a rush to a Date/Work/Meeting etc. When you are drunk, enjoy yourself, walk slow with your friends, and be safe.
  5. In NYC every second counts. You meeting is at 7:15, you miss your alarm and now have 15-min to get cross town, a 15-min walk. Every second counts. Some people may wonder why NY’er walk so fast and push through everyone, “They only gain an extra few seconds” those extra few seconds are all we need. Its not the people who slow us down, it’s waiting at a red light or missing the subway. I can’t even count the amount of times rushing like this has saved me a 5-min wait at an intersection. Having that extra second means having an extra second to run across the intersection to beat the red-light which could fuck you and your meeting up.
  6. We get so good at this that we know exactly which blocks to take to be the fastest route and with the least traffic and the most likely to be able to run across a red light. I even have a route to take in the rain which has the most scaffolding to provide for shelter as a I walk.
  7. Don’t text while you walk unless you text while you drive. You are going to walk into a pole, a person, a car, or even a baby in a stroller. If you are good at texting without looking down while walking then by all means, go for it. If not, then stand aside and text. When I drive, I am able to keep my eyes on the rode and text the way I type with out looking – it’s a useful skill to have for NYC Walking.
  8. The Streets: All of the streets are numbered. Higher the number means you are heading uptown. As the numbers get lower you are heading downtown. Streets run horizontal.
  9.  Avenues run vertical. To walk between an avenue, is about a 3-block walk.
  10. Name Streets: When walking in the name streets you may get lost. Just find a major Avenue – Broadway for example. Look either direction: Look fir either the Chrysler Building or the Empire State Building. Those two buildings are uptown the opposite direction is downtown. The Name streets are actually home to some of the most culturally diverse neighborhoods in Manhattan and can be some of the most fun areas you have ever been to.
  11. Houston Street: I know (Every NY’er Knows) you are a tourist if you say, “Houston (As in Texas) Street” we say, “House-Ten” Street. SoHo, South Of “House-Ten.” NoHo, North Of “House-Ten” Street. Most of the time we will look at you with an expression of “Wtf” are you saying. It will take a few moments for us to realize that you are not from here and are mispronouncing our Street.
  12. If you need a map you can always walk into any subway station and view a public one. There are many tourist centers with them. Barns & Noble sells them. Your smart phone has one build it. Try and memorize your route before you start walking, it’s easier, and those maps are a bitch to fold.
     Areas Of Manhattan
NYC is home to some of the greatest, most fun, most diverse, and craziest neighborhoods and areas around.
  1. The Upper East Side: New & Young Money. Where the young and wealthy are moving to live today. Apartments up there, for a studio, start out at about $2,100.00 and can escalate up to $4,500.00 While two bedrooms can reach $30,000.00/mo. It is one of the nicest areas to walk around. Everyone is friendly and smiles. There is a mix of upper-middle class and wealthy people there; with the occasional Snob. It is located from 96th Street (Border of Upper East / Spanish Harlem) and down to around the 50′s. I lived up there for some time and have to say that I miss it dearly. It is quieter and more community oriented.
  2. The Upper West Side: Old & Rich Money. This is where you find that typical Hollywood style upper-echelon type homes and apartments. It has some fun areas but is a more up-scale community. This area is also home to many of our most famous Museums  Located between the 90′s and the upper 50′s.
  3. Lincoln Center: A great shopping area, home to some upscale galleries and an Opera House. Some great high-class restaurants are here as well.
  4. Central Park: Is fucking huge! It is impossible to get lost in but you may end up walking for hours. It stretches from Harlem to Midtown. I have still not walked through the entire park. On the Uptown side there are many hidden trails and areas from the birth of NYC there. As you venture on through the rest of the park you may stumble across the hidden Alice in Wonderland Statue. On the Midtown side you can also find Handsome Cab Ride (Horse Drawn Carriages), street performers, and so much more.
  5. Chelsea: Is a unique area in Manhattan. It is home to some of the greatest bars and clubs. It some of the most modern restaurants that are not overpriced tourist traps. The community is also a nice friendly one. This neighborhood is also very welcoming to NY’s Gay and Lesbian Community.
  6. West (Greenwich) Village: Has been ranked in many articles as a place to see before you die. It’s streets are cobble stone in parts, and the apart buildings are georgous. You no longer feel like you are in Manhattan. It is also home to many celebrities. There is so much to say about this area and a few others that I will have to make separate posts to cover it.
  7. East Village: Is one of my favorite areas to “Play” in. With over 20 Hookah Bars, Countless Tattoo Parlors, Bars, Head-Shops, and strange stores, the East Village is a place that everyone needs to visit. It is also home to the famous, “St. Mark’s St.”
  8. There are many other areas that I will keep adding. I as I get more downtown with my descriptions I am realizing that these areas need more than just a few lines on a post.

Avoiding Tourist Traps 

  1. If you are a tourist please use Fromer’s Guide or any other like that one. Or even contact me or use the posts on Michael Wolf as a guide.
  2. Our NYC Tourist Guide Books will refer you to some of the most “Popular True NYC Experience” Restaurants and activities. They will lead you to think that those places are where we frequent. This is a lie.
  3. You should however…Visit the Top of the Empire State Building and eat in Times Square and get stuck in tourist traps for the expirnce. Everyone should experience it once in their life. What you shouldn’t do is spend your week eating at the Times Sq Fridays and hopping from one trap to another. The city is safe, explore.
  4. By following a guide like Fromer’s you can see all of the Traditional Tourist Stuff to do, but you will also be guided through life as a real NY’er.
  5. Why not eat in the same restaurant as the Day-Traders, Stock Brokers, and Market Makes of Wall-Street. It’s a humble yet elegant “Pub” right by Wall Street. They are not the Harvard Club but still have a wealthy atmosphere. On either side of you will be some of the richest men and women in the world. They don’t pay $25.00 for a burger. They pay $12.50. Friday’s is twice as much in Times SQ and you are eating next to other tourists. We count on tourists being stupid and not venturing into our secret locations because they fear they won’t fit in. You want the experience, dress normal, we don’t judge. Leave your camera in your bag, act you belong, and come on down to Wall Street and eat along side us. If you show up there, we will just assume you are one of us ;)
  6. Agressive Street Side Tours / Comedy Clubs / Bar Discounts etc – They are all BULLSHIT! Don’t look them in the eye, ignore them, stick up a hand to show dis-intrest. They will follow you, they won’t shut up, and they will suck in your sole just before they take all of your money. They won’t nothing more than your money. Even the tours; as they are real Businesses and Tours – you can get a free one by reading Fromers or just walking around and talking to people. We are friendly and don’t mind to talk. These street “Hustlers” will do anything for your money. They know how to spot a tourist as opposed to a NY’er. Watch them and you will see how they don’t even bother to try and give their flyer out to some people and how they attack others. They know who is weak and likely to pay and they know who is a local and will spit in their face. If you want a tour, ask the concierge in your Hotel Lobby.
  7. Never Ever Never Ever Buy a CD from a guy on street! Never make eye contact! Never smile at them! N’uff Said! I need not explain more. I’m not talking about bootleggers, I’m talking about the “Rap Artists.”
  8. Times SQ and Grand Central Station and part of Penn Station are the tourist Hot Spots – Go anywhere away from there and you can find better prices and eat where the locals eat.
     Activities [Free - Paid]
Now I know I said to avoid tourist traps, but when you go home your friends are going to ask about the “Tourist Things” because it is all they know and think that NYC is. You have to do them, but don’t get stuck doing them and only them.
  1.  Top Free Activity: People Watching – Yes people watching. It is fun and its entertaining. I, along with many others who get bored or engage in social experiments go to Tourist Centers and unique areas to watch people. NYC is full of some of the most unique people in the world. Within in the span of one city block you can find; A millionair, An Actor, A homeless Man, A Religious Fanatic, A group of Drunk Girls, a Door Man, a Couple Making Out, a crazy person screaming, someone in a costume, a guy listing to music singing, and a normal person. That’s just one city block haha. You can entertain yourself for hours watching people.
  2. Sightseeing (Free Version) – Just go for a walk anywhere and you can explore and have your own adventure. Talk to random people, see what around. Integrate yourself into NYC Life.
  3. The Tree Lighting (Free) – See Our Wolf Famous Christmas Tree (November)
  4. New Years Eve (Free) – Just need to stand in crowd for 8-Hours (New Years)
  5. Visit any of our Parks (There are more than you think)
  6. Parades ($ For Alcohol) – Enjoy Any of our parades: Thanksgiving, Christmas, St. Patty’s Day, Puerto Rican Day, etc.
  7. Ice Skating (Sake Rental) – Sake in Rockefeller Center in the Winter Time
  8. Art Galleries (Free) – Look for exhibits like Andy Warhol
  9. Museums (Recommended Donation) – MoMa, MET, Sony, Radio, All of the famous ones, plus…The Sex Museum :)
  10. NYC Tour Bus ($$ – IDK) – Do It Once In Your Life
  11. Top Of The Rock ($50) – A unique experience to see the NYC skyline
  12. Dead Apple Tours ($60) – See the famous places of people who past away here
  13. Jeckle & Hyde’s (Okay Pricing) – Restaurent for Kids and Couples with a Halloween Type Atmosphere – Its a fun experience – Average Food
  14. Broadway Play – ($125 – $500) – Everything from Cirque Du Sole to Jersey Boys. A Must do! Deal with the price, this is true art.
  15. Helicopter Tour ($350 – $1000) – A once in a lifetime opportunity and actually decently prices
  16. For some of the most unique activieties and things to do read my “Manhattan’s Secret Location’s” Section

People Watching

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