Long Island is a unique place, full of history, culture, and quirks that can be difficult for outsiders to understand. If you’re from Long Island, you know that there are certain things that you might have to explain to someone who’s not familiar with the area. Here are 33 of those things:
1. The difference between Nassau and Suffolk County
Long Island is divided into two main counties, Nassau and Suffolk. Nassau is on the western half and is generally considered more affluent, while Suffolk is on the eastern half and has more rural areas.
2. The Long Island accent
The Long Island accent is a distinct dialect that can be difficult for outsiders to understand. You might have to explain why you say “cawfee” instead of “coffee.” Many Long Islanders have a peculiar way of pronouncing the place they’re from saying “lawn guy land” instead of simply “Long Island.”
3. The meaning of “on the Island”
Long Islanders often refer to the area as “the Island,” and it can confuse outsiders who don’t realize they’re talking about Long Island. People live “in” New Jersey. They live “on” Long Island. There’s no easier way to spot an out-of-towner than when they get this wrong.
4. Manhattan Is “the city”
Long Islanders don’t say they’re going to Manhattan, they say they’re going to the city. While NYC also includes Queens, Brooklyn, the Bronx, and Staten Island, Manhattan is typically the center of the action for most Long Islanders — so when they say they’re heading to the city, they are always talking about Manhattan.
5. Why it’s called “Strong Island?”
“Strong Island” is a nickname that has been given to Long Island by its residents, and it refers to the area’s reputation for being tough and resilient. The island has weathered many storms and challenges throughout its history, and its people are known for their strength and determination.
6. “On line” instead of “in line”
When Long Islanders are waiting, they are never waiting “in line” but instead waiting “on line.” This is a common linguistic quirk that Long Islanders are known for. The origins of this phrase are not entirely clear, but it is believed to have originated from the large immigrant population that has settled in the New York metropolitan area.
7. The fascination with Billy Joel
Billy Joel is a Long Island native and is practically worshipped by many locals. His music is deeply ingrained in Long Island’s culture and is played at many bars and restaurants. He even has a street named after him in his hometown of Hicksville.
8. Obsession with the “best pizza”
Long Island is home to some of the best pizza in the country and locals have strong opinions about where to get the best pizza, and they’re always willing to share their recommendations.
9. Obsession with bagels and delis
New York-style bagels are legendary, and Long Island has some of the best. Bagels from Long Island are boiled before they are baked, resulting in a chewy texture that is unmatched. Long Islanders take their bagels and delis very seriously and have heated debates over which places are the best.
10 Diners everywhere
Long Island is known for its diners that operate round the clock. These food stops can be found almost on every street corner and offer a wide variety of food options to cater to everyone’s taste buds. Every Long Islander has a personal favorite diner that they hold dear and are willing to passionately defend its awesomeness.
11. The difference between the North Shore and the South Shore
Long Island is surrounded by water, and the island is split into two regions known as the North Shore and the South Shore. The North Shore is known for its rocky coastline, charming towns, and historic mansions. The South Shore is known for its wide, sandy beaches, popular beach towns, and lively nightlife.
12. The significance of the “infamous” Hamptons
The Hamptons are a group of seaside communities on the South Fork of Long Island that are known for their luxurious estates, high-end restaurants, beautiful beaches, and trendy nightlife. It’s a popular vacation spot for celebrities and wealthy New Yorkers.
13. Fascination with the North Fork
The North Fork of Long Island is known for its picturesque vineyards, farms, and seafood restaurants. It’s a popular destination for wine tastings, apple and pumpkin picking, and scenic drives.
14. The nostalgia with Montauk
Montauk is a popular vacation spot on the eastern end of Long Island, and many locals have fond memories of spending time there. The Montauk Lighthouse is a historic lighthouse (the oldest in New York State) that is a popular spot for tourists and locals alike and offers stunning views of the ocean.
15. Fire Island
Fire Island is a barrier island off the southern coast of Long Island accessible only by ferry with a unique culture, characterized by a relaxed, bohemian vibe and a celebration of diversity and inclusivity. It’s a popular destination for locals to take a day trip during the summer. The historic Fire Island Lighthouse, located on the western end of the island is also a popular attraction, especially for tourists.
16. How to navigate the LIRR
The Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) is the busiest commuter rail system in North America and is the main way to get around Long Island and into New York City. It can be confusing for outsiders, but locals know all the ins and outs.
17. Taking the “drunk train” home
There’s nothing like taking the LIRR home after a night of partying in the city. If you plan to return to Long Island after a night of drinking, ensure that you board the last train out of Manhattan, which is commonly referred to as the “drunk train.” If you don’t, expect a long, unpleasant wait in Penn Station for the first train in the morning to depart.
18. The famous “Penn Station Pizza”
Waiting for your train back to Long Island after a fun night of drinking in the city would not be complete or proper without grabbing a slice from one of the many pizzerias down in Penn Station. It’s not just about the pizza itself, but the experience and the memories Long Islanders associate with it. In many ways, it’s become a symbol of the connection between Long Island and New York City
19. Mind-boggling traffic
Long Island has a reputation for having some of the worst traffic in the country, especially during rush hour. Be prepared to explain to your out-of-town friends why it takes an hour to go 10 miles.
20. Why we call it the “L” “I” “E”?
Speaking of traffic, the “LIE” refers to the Long Island Expressway — which is a major (and always congested) highway that runs across the island spanning from the beginning of Queens all the way to the end of the island before it splits into the North and South forks.
21. Love for the beach
Long Island is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. From the pristine sands of Jones Beach to the rugged shores of Montauk, there is no shortage of places to soak up the sun and swim in the Atlantic Ocean. During the summer months, Long Island’s beaches are packed, enjoying everything from surfing and fishing to picnicking and sunbathing.
22. What the duck!?!?
To a Long Islander, duck is more than just a food—it is a part of the region’s history, culture, and identity. Long Island has been known for its duck since the early 20th century when Long Island farmers began raising the birds for their flavorful meat and eggs. Duck also represents the region’s commitment to sustainability and humane farming practices. That’s why the duck dishes on Long Island are considered by many to be some of the best duck in the world.
23. Italian pride
Long Island has a strong Italian-American community, and you’ll often see Italian flags flying outside homes and businesses. The community is known for its delicious Italian food, vibrant festivals, and close-knit family traditions.
24. The love of seafood
With the ocean on all sides, Long Island has some of the freshest seafood around, and locals can be very particular about where they get their seafood fix. There is no shortage of incredible places where visitors can enjoy exquisite fresh seafood.
25. 7-Eleven loyalty
7-Eleven convenience stores are a staple of Long Island life, and locals will often go out of their way to buy everything from there from coffee to snacks to lotto tickets to beer. Many even claim this chain has the best coffee.
26 . The Gold Coast Mansions
Long Island was once home to some of the wealthiest people in America, and their historic mansions built during the Gilded Age, including the Oheka Castle, the Vanderbilt Mansion, and the Hempstead House. These mansions offer a glimpse into the extravagant lifestyle of America’s wealthy elite during the early 20th century.
27. The summer tradition of concerts at Jones Beach
The Jones Beach Theater is an outdoor amphitheater that hosts concerts and other events during the summer months. It’s located on the beach and offers incredible views of the ocean. Locals swear by it as the best venue to experience a live music event.
28. Extreme baseball fandom
Long Island is home to many baseball fans, and many locals are die-hard New York Mets or Yankees fans. Whether you’re watching the game at home or at a local bar, the energy and excitement surrounding a big game can be contagious. Baseball is a way of life on Long Island, and you’ll often see kids playing ball in the local parks or adults playing in community leagues.
29. The Long Island Ducks
The Long Island Ducks are an independent league baseball team that’s based in Central Islip. They play in the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball and have won multiple championships. Many locals are big fans!
30. The rivalry between the Islanders and the Rangers
Long Island is home to the New York Islanders hockey team, and there’s a fierce rivalry between them and the New York Rangers.
31. The insane popularity of lacrosse
On Long Island, lacrosse is massive. It is by far the number one high school sport and has a long and storied history that is deeply ingrained in the culture of many communities. Many schools field competitive teams and local rivalries can run deep.
32. The love affair with cars
Long Islanders are known for their love of cars, and you’ll often see classic cars cruising down the streets or parked outside local diners. Car shows and races are popular events on the island, and there are many local car clubs for enthusiasts to join.
33. The Montauk Monster
In 2008, a mysterious creature washed up on the beach in Montauk and quickly gained national attention. Dubbed the “Montauk Monster,” its true identity remains unknown to this day.
34. The Belmont Stakes
It’s “stakes,” not “steaks.” Though the steaks on Long Island are some of the best you’ll find. However, the Belmont Stakes is a prestigious horse race that’s held annually at Belmont Park in Elmont. It’s the third race in the Triple Crown and is known for its rich history and tradition.
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