"I’m Walking Here!" NYC Turns Sour During the Holidays
For sharp-elbowed New Yorkers accustomed to walking where they need to go at a big-city pace, the holiday season is hardly the most wonderful time of the year.
An estimated 5 million tourists who flock to the city between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day to see the tree at Rockefeller Center, the bright lights of Times Square and the Empire State Building often clog the sidewalks in an agonizingly slow procession that grates at locals and turns them into sidewalk Scrooges.
"They’re like the walking dead, real slow," griped Dennis Moran, 46, a fire safety officer at a building in Times Square and a native New Yorker. "They have this unnatural habit of stopping in the middle of the sidewalk."
It’s not that these Grinches don’t like the visitors; they just want them to use a little sidewalk etiquette. Among the biggest complaints: They stop in their tracks to take pictures. They stroll side by side in a sidewalk-blocking line. And worst of all, said Jose Francis, a caterer from Brooklyn who works in midtown Manhattan, they like to discuss group plans smack-dab in the middle of the sidewalk.
"They’re walking then they look, they stand there and then, ’boom,’ you run right into them," he fumed. "They don’t pay attention. New Yorkers, we’re walking brisk. We keep it moving."
Every year at this time, Bronx-born Macy’s shoe salesman Henry Vega said he has to double down on his resolve to maneuver sidewalks full of shopping-bag carrying, picture-taking, map-holding tourists.
"I tell them, ’New York is a fast-paced town; we get up in the morning and we get on the go, and 24 hours isn’t enough,’" said Vega, 54, as he noshed on a slice of pizza, standing, between shifts. "They tell me, ’You guys are always in a rush.’"
Vega’s trick for navigating the holiday-time sidewalks of New York?
"I already know I’m going to zigzag," he said. "Sometimes I walk in the street."