New York City, the bustling metropolis known as the “Big Apple,” is a vibrant melting pot of cultures, where millions of people from diverse backgrounds coexist. To ensure a pleasant and respectful experience during your visit, it’s essential to be aware of certain taboos and etiquette guidelines. In this article, I will delve into five key taboos to avoid in New York City, providing valuable insights to help you navigate the city like a local.


1. Leaning Against a Subway Pole:

New York City’s subway system is the lifeblood of the city, transporting millions of people every day. When riding the subway, it’s crucial to be mindful of your surroundings and considerate towards fellow commuters. Leaning against a subway pole is generally discouraged, as it takes up valuable space and hinders the movement of others. Instead, try to find a seat or stand clear of the poles to allow others to hold onto them comfortably.

2. Spitting on the Sidewalk:

While it may seem obvious, spitting on the sidewalk is considered highly disrespectful in New York City. This action not only tarnishes the cleanliness of public spaces but also creates an unsightly and unhygienic environment. To maintain the city’s beauty and show respect for fellow residents and visitors, it’s best to refrain from spitting on the sidewalks. Carrying a small tissue or handkerchief can be useful if you need to clear your throat discreetly.

3. Trying to Skip Your Fare in the Subway:

The New York City subway operates on a fare system, and every passenger is expected to pay their fare before entering. It is essential to purchase a MetroCard or use another valid payment method to avoid fare evasion. Trying to skip your fare not only violates the law but also places an unnecessary burden on the transit system. To avoid potential fines and maintain a sense of integrity, ensure you have sufficient fare before entering the subway.


4. Dressing Like a Tourist:

New York City is a global hub for tourism, attracting millions of visitors each year. However, blending in with the locals can enhance your experience and help you avoid unnecessary attention. One common mistake tourists make is wearing clothing that overtly identifies them as visitors. Avoid wearing articles of clothing that explicitly mention “New York” unless they represent a sports team you support. Instead, opt for more neutral attire that reflects the city’s diverse fashion culture.

5. Standing in the Middle of Sidewalks:

New York City sidewalks are notoriously crowded, especially in popular tourist areas. It’s essential to keep the flow of pedestrian traffic moving smoothly by avoiding behaviors that impede others. Standing in the middle of sidewalks or abruptly stopping can create bottlenecks and frustration among those trying to navigate around you. If you need to pause or check directions, step to the side, ensuring you’re not obstructing the path for others.


New York City offers a vibrant and exciting experience, and respecting local customs and norms can greatly enhance your visit. By avoiding these taboos—leaning against subway poles, spitting on the sidewalk, trying to skip your fare, dressing like a tourist, and standing in the middle of sidewalks—you can navigate the city like a seasoned New Yorker. Remember to be considerate towards others and embrace the diverse and dynamic spirit that makes New York City one of the world’s most remarkable destinations.

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