New Yorker Mentality - What is New York or Empire State of Mind?

New Yorker State of Mind (graphic by B. Mar)

In 1976 singer/songwriter Billy Joel, released the album entitled Turnstiles and on the album was New York State of Mind. Although it was initially unpopular, it quickly became a fan favorite and a regular part of Joel’s on stage performances. New York has always been, and arguably always will be, an incredible city that never sleeps while holding out hope for dreamers who aspire to reach bigger and better things. But what is the New York State of Mind, and what does it mean to have an Empire State of Mind? What is it about this city that transforms the mind, body, and soul so deeply?

What does it mean to be a New Yorker?

Ah New York, a city full of dazzling lights, incredible food, and the most self-assured people in the world. Either adored or completely loathed, New York is a place where there is no middle ground. You either are or aren’t from here, and you either do or don’t like it here. But for the sake of argument, our personal preference for New York is nothing short of fabulous. We love everything about this city. From the way you can get a delicious meal on nearly every corner, to being able to walk wherever you need to go, there really is no other place quite like New York.

What makes New York really great, however, are the people. As a melting pot of cultures from all over the world, New York redefines what it means to be an American. Immigrants from every corner of the globe make their way to the Big Apple to live out their dreams and experience what it means to be a New Yorker. Living in this city isn’t easy, and no one ever said it would be. In fact, before even stepping foot here people are warned about how difficult it is to make it, and they aren’t lying! From the price of living to the ultra competitive job market, living in NYC isn’t all fun and games. It is this that's why they say "if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere".

The difficulties and struggles are in a way what makes the city great. It takes a certain frame of mind and attitude to push through adversity and rise above it. You can’t be a wuss and live here. We have all worked hard to get to where we are, and we don’t mind putting in overtime to reach our dreams. That is what it means to be a New Yorker.

What defines the Empire State of Mind?

The Empire State of Mind is defined by the ability to make our own rules. We don’t follow social ‘norms’. In fact, more often than not we create social norms for the rest of the country to follow, especially when it comes to style and fashion.
Of course, we could also argue that New Yorkers don’t really like to be defined by any ‘attitude’, particularly by people who aren’t from here. But alas, we are our own breed, and we do have a tendency to rub off on each other.

The Empire State of Mind is easy to spot if you are from New York. In general, we adhere to the following ideas and attitudes:

  • Nothing can stop us from doing what we really want to do.
  • We relish in the struggle, fight, and determination in everyday life.
  • Step up, speed up, or get out of our way!
  • To the point and not willing to wait around for someone to do something we know we could do better.
  • Jay walk. An inability to give a care about when streetlights and signs say it is ‘safe’ to cross the street.
  • Some Cabs also don’t follow these laws, so keep your head up.
  • No fear!
  • Saying what you want, when you want to say it, how you want to say it.

We Love New York, and We’d Have it No Other Way!

So many people come to New York and experience culture shock because they never imagined how different it would be from their own home. But it is. There is no other place in the world like New York. It is the one place in the world that no matter where you come from, you can still be yourself. The character, the energy, fast paced, motivated, determined, and maybe even a little bit pushy, but hey we love it that way.

When people start talking about changing New York City for the ‘better’ we laugh in agreement on how so many things can be better, but deep down we feel lucky and proud to be living in such dynamic city that has so much to offer. Incredible food, world-famous art, the best live shows in the world, and people with more heart and soul than anywhere else are what define this absurdly awesome city. And that is the Empire State of Mind.