Since its founding more than 400 years ago, New York has welcomed dreamers and strivers from all walks of life, drawn to the city’s relentless energy—it truly never sleeps—as well as its unprejudiced embrace. (New Yorkers don’t just tolerate difference; we appreciate the heck out of it.)
Its allure remains strong to this day: Between 2010 and 2017, the city’s population jumped by 5.5 percent, an unprecedented rate of growth that’s taken the population to 8.6 million.
But as New York has become denser and more prosperous, many of the things that historically drew people here—the eccentric characters, the diverse neighborhoods filled with mom-and-pop shops, the sense that you could do anything and not have to be a millionaire to make it work—are disappearing. (So too are the crime and grittiness of years past; that, at least, is worth celebrating.) For many New Yorkers, it’s become hard, if not downright impossible, to eke out a comfortable living.
Still, even with those realities, natives and transplants alike will tell you that there’s just something about New York that makes it all worthwhile. It may be loud and chaotic and crowded, but it’s still the greatest city in the world.
As the song says, if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere—so here’s your guide to making it. We’ve gathered everything you need to know about New York City: From subway tips and secret histories to maps and explainers, this is the intel that will help you make sense of the loud and chaotic—and beautiful and exhilarating—aspects of life in the Big Apple.
Because if you can make it in New York, why would you want to be anywhere else? (And once you’ve mastered NYC, consider exploring further afield—our guide to the Hudson Valley and Catskills has you covered.) —Amy Plitt
Editors: Amy Plitt, Mercedes Kraus, Mariam Aldhahi, Sally Kuchar
Writers: Mary Jo Bowling, Samantha Weiss Hills, Kelsey Keith, Sam Lubell, Amy Plitt, Raven Snook, Asad Syrkett, Ameena Walker, Tanay Warerkar
Art Direction: Audrey Levine, Alyssa Nassner
Illustrations: Sunny Eckerle, Naomi Elliott
Photography: Scott Lynch, Max Touhey
Copy Editor: Emma Alpern
Engagement: Jessica Gatdula, Sharell Jeffrey