What Makes You a New Yorker?

I noticed something in all the hubbub about the Prospect Park West bike lanes, blog commenters frequently feel the need to state they were born in New York City, and how long they have lived there. Somehow because they exited their mother’s womb in the confines of the Five Boroughs, it entitles them to more credibility. They often refer  to non-native New Yorkers as “transplants”, and these “transplants” are usually  complicit in the destruction of the fabric of new york.  And the craziest thing is the so-called “transplants” buy into this malarkey and often allow them selves to be cowed buy these native-son-of-a -guns.

So let me clear up what makes you a New Yorker:

You were born and raised in Midwood, Brooklyn?  Congratulations, you are a New Yorker!

You moved to New York City last month from Chillicothe, Ohio (and you managed to find a job and a place to live)? Congratulations, you are a New Yorker!

How much of one’s vested interest in their community is based on birthplace?  I see plenty of “native” New Yorkers treat their city like a garbage dump.  In fact, I think it is longtime New York residents make change (even for the better) more difficult.  The “born and raised” are often overly tolerant of Gotham’s daily assaults (crime, pollution, rotting infrastructure.)  B & Rs often haven’t lived anywhere else, so they do not know any different way.

And because of that they a very quick to defend any on the city’s deficiencies with statements like:

“If you can’t take it, move back to Iowa!”

“Yea, but we got [some great thing about New York]”

“Only in New York”

(I love this city, but I’m sorry, “only in New York” doesn’t cut it as a response to someone complaining that a homeless person is using their foyer as a bathroom.)

So let’s give the “transplants” the benefit of the doubt.  Coming to New York with a different point of view is what keeps the city vibrant. Transplants often give a dying body new life.

Here is a list of a few New York Transplants who made New York what it is and
Patti Smith – Born in Chicago, moved to New York from Deptford Township, New Jersey
Sarah Jessica Parker – Was born and raised in Ohio.
Jane Jacobs – Moved to New York City from Scranton, PA.
Bob Dylan – Born in Duluth, Minnesota
John Lennon – Born in Liverpool, England
Andy Warhol – Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

(fwiw- I was born in East Flatbush, Brooklyn and moved to Long Island before elementary school.  I went to college in upstate New York and since I’ve lived in Hoboken, NJ, the Upper East Side, Williamsbug, the West Village, and Park Slope.)


1 thought on “What Makes You a New Yorker?

  1. Nice perspective. I just moved here 2 months ago from London, England, and was wondering what it took to make someone a “New Yorker”. Interestingly, most of what i see is long lists about “when you give the cabbie directions” or “when you think of driving to Brooklyn as a ‘road trip'” – either that or needing to have been here at LEAST 10 years etc.

    What’s interesting too is that a huge number of the people i’ve met, heard and interacted with in Manhattan were not born and raised in the 5 Boroughs. This place is full of people from all over the States and the world for that matter.

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