List of Cultural Faux Pas In NYC

by Christopher Paul on September 21, 2011

Great question answered at Quora: What are some cultural faux pas in New York?

Here are a few of my favorites:

“Don’t refer to the subway lines by their color. Instead, refer to them by their numbers and letters – e.g. it’s not the “Green Line,” it’s the “4, 5, 6.” When referring to a specific service along that line, each is called a “train,” rather than a “subway” – e.g. the “6 train,” not the “6 subway.” When referring to the entire system, it’s the “subway” – not the “Metro,” the “Underground,” etc.”


“When you refer to locations in Manhattan, don’t give the Avenue first – always start with the Street. If you’re going to 9th Street and 3rd Avenue, say “Ninth and Third,” never “Third and Ninth.””

But is the most important (emphasis added):

“This one is absolutely vital – don’t interfere with others’ privacy. New York is a very crowded place. The way people deal with it is to create their own space. Thus, what outsiders often see as aloofness and isolation is, in fact, a sign of community; there is a shared ethos that everyone respects others’ privacy and expects others to respect his own. This is chiefly communicated through eye contact. If you stare at someone on the subway: if you linger in looking out your window into someone else’s bedroom; if you react to or interrupt a celebrity; or if you seem to be intentionally listening in to another’s conversation, you are violating one of New York’s most sacred unwritten rules. Keep yourself to yourself, buddy, and let others do the same.”

Read the full list, though.

Cultural Faux Pas: What are some cultural faux pas in New York? – Quora via Kottke

Previous post:

Next post: