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Aug 28, 2008

Social Prowess: Top 10 Tips for Navigating or Avoiding a New York City Crowd

If you’re visiting the city, commuting, or have taken the plunge and decided to move into the thriving metropolis full-time, it will always be useful to know how to properly navigate through its overcrowded streets and subterranean tunnels. Follow these 10 tips to avoid getting stuck in a sea of jaded commuters or photo-happy tourists, and reduce your walk time by at least 10 minutes (results may vary)

10) Treat the masses of people like a body of water. Rivers and oceans always have equally opposing currents. Look out for a mass of people who are moving in your general direction and tag along behind them until you reach your desired location. Find an exit point such as an open entrance to a shop when stepping out of the ‘current’ to avoid getting trampled.

9) Avoid walking in a cluster of people who are dressed like tourists. Sorry to generalize, but tourists usually wear "I Love NY” t-shirts, carry a camera around their necks, and may have the occasional fanny-pack). More than likely, tourists will unknowingly block your path by stopping to ask for directions, pondering which deli or restaurant to explore, taking a picture of something mentioned in their guidebooks, etc. It’s a much better gamble to walk behind people in suits or dressed business casual, carrying a briefcase or messenger bag (good luck if they’re business guests from Delaware).

8) Find a ‘bulldozer’ or ‘Noah’ (Note: Religious Advocates please excuse the dramatic use of a biblical figure). A bulldozer is what I call a person who can skillfully push people aside, making a clear path. A ‘Noah’ is a reference to a Christian biblical figure, who had the power to part the Red Sea… the sea in this instance, is the masses of people. Usually a bull dozer is a person whose obvious size or momentum intimidates people to step aside (think the Juggernaut or Mr. T)… a bull dozer may also be a person with a steel dolly (they hurt if you bump into them) or a fast-moving, aggressive couple. A Noah is a term I reserve for authority (e.g. police, EMT, security guards, etc.) One of these types will pave the way for you… making it easy to get to where you are going. Just don’t get in front of a ‘Noah’ or the Red Sea may come crashing down.

7) Use roads less traveled. As with any area, I recommend that you consider the safety precautions of alleyways and desolate streets, if you are not familiar with them. I recommend looking out for street grates (women with high heels always avoid them) or unused bicycle paths; these pathways are less frequented by tourists, groups, and crowds, as they don’t allow for easy group navigation.

6) In conjunction with #7, try to walk on the East Side if it is convenient enough to do so. Because of the lack of subway lines on the East Side, larger crowds converge in the Western most avenues. (e.g. It is much easier to briskly walk without interruption on Park Avenue, than it is to walk on Broadway.)

5) Time your walk during off-peak periods. On weekdays, streets are much clearer during the hours of (10am – 11am) and (2pm – 3pm), since workers are usually in their buildings. In the evening, watch out for the Broadway crew, who make their way to the shows at around 7:30pm(around 11:30pm or midnight they all get out again).

4) Use large public areas in buildings to your advantage. If you can enter a large, public building with several street exits you may be able to get to the next block quicker (e.g. Walk through Macy’s in Herald Square to get from Broadway to 8th Avenue). Master the tunnels of Grand Central and you’ll be king/queen of the East Side.

3) Master the subway system. Knowing where the subway will drop you off ahead of time, will greatly reduce your time walking and bumping through the crowds. (The 1, 2, 3 trains stop every 3-5 blocks on the west side, as well as the C,E. The 4, 5, trains on the east side, stop about every 6 – 10 blocks, with the 6 train going local.).

2)Use to plan your commute ahead of time. It is a mapquest-like tool for the subway hopper!

1) And the #1 tip to navigate through a New York Crowd? Be rich, powerful, and important. Then, have a motorcade escort you to the front door of your destination!