Only In New York: 10 City Dwellers Share Their Craziest Stories

Hop in our New York time machine


“Only in New York.”

It’s not even an actual sentence. There’s no verb! And yet, we all feel the spirit and energy and romance behind the words. I’m not sure what it is about the city that inspires such a characterization: that there are things that could only possibly happen here. Where 8.5 million people with high hopes and bigger dreams crowd, year over year, into 300 square miles and try to make it.

Maybe to some people “making it in New York” means knowing the subway system like the veins in your hand or having your own apartment with central air or carrying 13 tote bags for 42 blocks. But to a newcomer like me, at its lowest common denominator, making it in New York seems to mean the simple act of not leaving. Of toughing out the messy chaos — or even being thrilled by it — because a part of you knows or believes or has felt the magic that created it. And sometimes those sparks look like fireworks or heartbreak or an unforgettable night, but it all feels like it could happen. Like any day could be the day New York gives you a high five and changes the trajectory of your life. And that feeling — the tingly electricity or the dull promise of it — is worth it.

We asked ten New Yorkers about those moments. The times the gears of their everyday turned a little differently, left them baffled and with little more to say than, well, “Only in New York.”

Illustrations by Amber Vittoria; follow her on Instagram @amber_vittoria.


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  • Babs

    These graphics are so great.

  • There was something really beautiful about these stories. Definitely only in New York.

  • Meggie Sullivan

    Really enjoyed this compilation of stories! Erin Norris: love your gusto. New York is a special place, and so true Haley, it’s a place that gives “high fives” for a job well done, or just because.

  • Krista Anna Lewis

    Harling’s grandma (Nanette Ross) is officially my new life goals. Can she visit us in the office?!

    • Harling Ross

      hahahaha Nolita is Pluto to her

    • Kelly

      Nanette sounds like she’s had an amazing life! What made her move to NY?

  • Ashley

    This was so great! I’ve been thinking a lot about perspective and how we interpret the things that happen to us. Next time something weird happens to me I’ll change my perspective and pretend that one day, I’ll use the story during an interview just like this.

  • LEM

    I love this so much. Although I don’t share the sentiment about running into people you know on the train. It’s happened to me more times than I can count.

  • Janelle Domek

    Whoa! Pause. Soon Kim has the perfect New York story.

    • Harling Ross


  • Ugh, all of these are very true. I think what made my scream “Yes!” was the subway story: Only a true New Yorker understands how odd it is to run into someone you know in the subway, whether you love or hate that person. So true.

    And also the relationship dynamic is what I am currently facing. Round 3 of on-and-off, but happier than ever <3

  • Emily

    WHOA. Soon Kim’s story gave me the goosebumps! Where can I find more of her writing? A google search doesn’t yield great results.

    • Carina

      I cried.

    • Autumn

      Me too!!!

  • Carina

    This just made my day. I miss New York so much. For everyone not living in New York right now all we can say when something so random, exciting and serendipitous happens is “feels like we’re in New York huh?”

  • camila

    this 100% made me cry

  • PCE

    This was wonderful. Some days when I’m trudging to my job in FiDi and I’m cursing the traffic and the tourists, something little will happen -a new view of the trade center or Trinity’s bells ringing over the noise of cabs and buses honking – to make me appreciate the unique-ness of this town.

  • CDC

    This hit so close to home not because any of these have actually happened to me, but because I always thought I’d have those New York stories when I first moved there.

    I moved to the city post-college with a one-year work visa. Everything started out dreamy: great job, guy of my dreams, the whole enchilada. Months wore on and I ended up without a job and having to move to a different country, but always with the hope of coming back. Just three months after my initial departure I found myself back in the city. I found a place close to him and everything, as if destiny was telling me that my stars were finally alining. Fat chance. I made the mistake of putting the aforementioned guy first and the rest second, meaning I let my New York experience be defined by someone else.

    We fizzled out just two weeks after I moved back, and I saw him everywhere. The coffee place we loved, the laundromat, the subway…everywhere. They say you never see the same person twice in a New York street, but cosmic jokes know no rules. I ended up leaving the city about three weeks after it happened, and for a while I couldn’t even look at anything New York-related without crying. New York is definitely not for the weak, so I guess at the time I was part of the city’s self-cleansing. More than the guy I think I mourned New York, the place I thought I’d go on to refer to as “my city.”

    We already have The Girl Who Didn’t Go To Paris (hi LC!), so I guess I’m The Girl Who Left New York.

  • Exactly where and how can I find Frank Andrews? These are all gems, but… what a gem.