NYC sidewalk with tourist lane: culprits revealed

Several weeks ago, Cory posted about a prankster painting a "tourist lane" on a busy New York City sidewalk. Turns out, the culprits were none other than our friends at Improv Everywhere! Bravo! "The Tourist Lane"


  1. Now that I’ve moved to London, I would definitely appreciate this for rush hour on the Underground. Bloody people can’t follow common sense of slow walking behind slow, and the people who actually need to get to work walk with the other fast people. :P

    1. When we visited London from Austin,TX, it took about one trip on the underground connecting lines to figure out the standing vs. walking/running on the escalators routine. I LOVED it, but I have better things to do with my time than dawdle.

      I mean really- the people in the NYC video were standing and staring at a RETAIL SHOP-go inside or jog on. I’ll be in NYC in two weeks; I look forward to embracing the pace = )

  2. This is lame, self-important, othering bullshit which treats people as lesser-than. I’m a fast-walking New Yorker myself (now taking a lovely break in the woods of Western Massachusetts) and if ANYONE tried this shit on me in Tokyo or London or San Francisco, I would tell them to fuck the fuck off fucking fast! We’re in a hateful, egotistical age of soulless stressed-out zombies, and my “fellow” New Yorkers embarrass me with their awful, selfish behavior. Btw, I have a great sense of humor, so don’t even. Now, excuse me – I have the smell of summer flowers and tweeting baby birds to pay attention to now…

    1. Hey, if you think that’s bad, take a listen to Act Two of this episode of This American Life, where Improv Everywhere mobs some shy dude in a bar and pretends it’s his birthday. Then they act like it’s his fault that they made him feel uncomfortable.

      This was a lark in comparison.

      1. That’s just in-your-face disrespect and trying to wig someone out for, um, nothing but entertainment. Not a study in human behavior, not anything original, not funny.Too easy. What the fuck kind of creativity or humor is there in this? Aggressive, laugh at, sophomoric crap. OOh, the twist – victim into perpetrator, kind of. Man, I have been around some of the most outré, off-the-grid artists (and non-artists) who make these stunts look like community college drivel. Mean-spirted and empty. Show me stuff with heart and soul and an uncomfortable thought-provoking edge without hatred and I’ll take a look. Say, around 4am EST, next new moon, some hill in town…

  3. I hate to say it, but I kind of agree with sdaris. This is the first thing I’ve seen to come from Improv Everywhere that seems more like delinquent behavior than a clever put-on of some kind. The garish attitude, and blatant singling out and harassing of passerby seems a bit uncalled for. Plus, if I were a tourist and I thought New York had installed a ‘Tourist Lane’ I would probably be a little insulted by and pissed of at New York, so this probably isn’t to good for the city, either.

  4. I’m not a New Yorker, but when you go to NY, it would be weird to NOT experience some morsel of attitude, it’s what makes it (f-ing) New York!

    And if someone’s sensibilities are so delicate that this is an example of a highly objectionable NY “insult” they might experience, then they should go to another city. Like Seattle. Where they’re constantly anxious about not being nice.

    Lastly, I think the (righteous) context being complained about isn’t 100% what Improve Everywhere was pushing for by the sound of it (i.e. pedestrian “safety”).

    sdaris could do to unpack the massive hate contradiction.

    1. And that’s why I’ve never been to New York. The world is full of cool stuff to see (and the center of it is a molten core of iron and some other stuff, and not New York, contrary to the belief of many New Yorkers).
      Once I’m done seeing things in places where the people don’t pride themselves on their “f-ing” attitude, I’ll visit Paris. Then New York.
      But it was kind of funny to see how people respond to a guy in an orange vest. Act like you know what you’re doing, and people will let you do it.

      1. Hey bja009, don’t hold off on Paris. We only spent a couple of nights there because we had been conditioned to believe the city was full of arrogant assholes. In fact, it turns out to be full of lovely people, delicious food, great wine and seriously jaw droppingly beautiful architecture. I wish we’d stayed there a month.

        New York is cool too. But New Yorkers, when you are busily rushing about today getting pissed off with slow moving tourists, stop and take a second to look up.

        That is one impressive city you are living in, you shouldn’t be surprised to see your streets filled with folks who are a little stunned and overwhelmed.

    2. Actually Elk, Seattle could use this too. The slow lane for the long-time locals who are so busy deferring to each other in precious politeness that they don’t think anyone behind them could possibly be in a hurry, and the fast lane for us out-of-towners (or especially, us annoyed migrants) who just want to get on by.

    3. I DID unpack the massive hate contradiction, right out of my magic sparkly bag, and it was something shaped like a non-contradiction that just showed passion and a sense of justice for the purpose of the good-hearted and unegotistical in this awhhhhrsome world :D

  5. I’ll echo sdaris/Gainclone here ( Grew up in Ny Btw ) They come off as Teen-age d-Bags.


  6. I’d have attitude too if I was a New Yorker. Spend your whole week stabbing yourself in the d**k paying for your s****y apartment 12 hours a day so you can take a walk in the park eating an ice cream on Sunday. It’s a great city, but it’s not THE City.

  7. Dick move, Improv Everywhere.

    When I visit New York, locals go out of their way to be friendly. Try this game – blatantly scrutinize a hand-held map on the subway – they COMPETE to give you the best directions.

    No, I am not an attractive young female. I am more towards the Larry David end of the scale.

    1. I’m not a New Yorker (although I’d love to be for at least a year sometime).

      However, as someone that was once a tourist to the very fine city that NYC is I must say, NYC had by far and large the friendliest population of any city I visited over the course of 7 weeks. My partner and I met people in bars, that then dragged us to numerous other bars, we met people in sandwhich shops that offered to meet us the next day and show us around Brooklyn (and then they did). We met people on the street that then told us to jump in a cab with them instead of riding the subway back home (which they paid for).

      Also, this is hilarious. Good job!

    2. To be fair, context is important – I gather you weren’t scrutinizing your map while simultaneously blocking everyone around you from going about their day.

      I love giving directions to people who look lost, I’ve actually missed trains because of it. However, when people are being lost inconsiderately (like standing at the top of a staircase or blocking the entire sidewalk to stand around in a pack of 20 people), I have to resist the urge to shove them into traffic. It’s a weird instinct.

  8. +1 to the above.
    New Yorkers are great people. I’ve been many times and I’ve always been treated well and they LOVE to give directions. But it’s hard to get lost if you understand the subway and know from north, south, east and west.. :)
    Greatest city in the world. I’m about due for another visit.

  9. With all due respect for NYC (after all, an old hockey town will understand)…

    Congratulations, Black Hawks!

  10. Yeah, this is crap. Hey New Yorkers! Stay out of my woods. You are as welcome there as this video makes me feel in NYC. It would be hilarious if the NYC Chamber of Commerce sued these guys, because they are doing more harm than good. I was considering a trip to see the sites, but now I don’t feel welcome at all. Funny is funny, alienation is alienation, and this is what that is. If you guys want your city to yourselves, you are welcome to it, trust me.

  11. Okay- I’m a tourist. I would love to go to New York, see the city. And strangely enough, I would appreciate a tourist lane. Yes, I would get sneered at, but it would lessen my impact on those who live there. And Improv Everywhere rocks. I love their stuff (Still wish I could have been there for the U2 thing…)

  12. Okay folks, as a New Yorker (born and raised in Brooklyn) I will say this: I really liked the street art aspect of this when I first saw it pop up all over the Internet. Cute, cool, witty and subtle.

    Then this video… Ugggh… I’ve had my own issues with some Improv Everywhere “missions” where they come off as a tad patronizing and preachy. The “This American Life” episode that told both sides of an Improv Everywhere “mission” was spot on.

    But this rubs in a whole new way. The guys in the vests are excessively douchey. And pretty people folks are indeed being “hurt” by being accosted and insulted in this video. I really do not like this at all.

    That said I used to get upset by slow walkers or folks who stop in the middle of the street. But not any more. There is a new NYC annoyance: Folks who don’t cross the street when the light is blinking red and who block others in the process. Such a pain!

  13. Take a chill pill folks – its a joke.
    More importantly, from my experience with pranks I’d bet that many of the “tourists” are still telling this story and showing the pictures and very few would be as upset as this crowd.

  14. i wish the improv everywhere guys made a lane of two converging lines to funnel impassable walking walls of 3 or more people into a single file and then have it lead to an open manhole. man i would have enjoyed seeing that. revenge!!!!

  15. At first I thought Bodenski (#5) won the internets for today, but then Elk (#6) swept in with some awesomely good and hilarious points.

    My two scents, not that they’re even contenders:

    I lived in various parts of NYC for about 8 years, but for the last 10 years have lived in gentle little San Francisco. I was back in NYC a few weeks ago and wow, what a pace the locals keep. I literally felt like I didn’t know how to walk. Silly me, I’d arrive at an intersection with speeding cabs and SUVs careening inches from me and I’d actually take a step back! How pathetic. The locals would look a little affronted and bored and take two steps into the street before even looking up, and cars would seem to nearly brush against them.

    So there you have it, even after a good 8 years of NYC living I’m a tourist again. Oh well.

    Which is to say that I find this project/commentary hilarious. Granted I’ve only watched the video without sound (its a work computer, no speakers, sosume), so who knows, the execution might be a little ham fisted. But I don’t care, what’s NYC if not ham fisted. And I’m surprised to see so many NYC’ers, present and past, complaining about the rudeness. Come on! Its NYC! Toughen up! If anything, it strikes me as even more apropos of the locals’ lane.

    And besides, that Rustoleum Landscape Chalk in a spraypaint can is super badass.

    1. for the last 10 years have lived in gentle little San Francisco.

      I was mowed down by a cab at Third and Market. It just seems safer.

  16. I’m a New Yorker, and I’ve actually had this very idea in the past, only I think it should be implemented for real. No, seriously.

    Imagine yourself at work, sitting at your desk. Now imagine that you get up to get some water. But all along the path to the sink there is a Disney World parade. That parade is there 24/7.

    Every time you take even a short walk, there are people in front of you who are walking like they have a ball and chain. They stop dead in their tracks in the middle of the sidewalk to take a photo or look at a store window. Not being trained in ways of NY sidewalks, they unwittingly create an obstruction, and you have to constantly duck and dodge around them, or plow into them.

    Anyone who thinks this isn’t courteous, remember this. It’s a lot better to give the tourists their own spot for walking than it is for us to just barrel into them when they stop.

  17. 1. Slow walkers can be very annoying. And my city of Vienna is full of slow walkers and narrow sidewalks. It´s a constant obstacle course.

    2. I didn´t actually find most parts of NYC to be that much different, walking speed-wise. Still had to do the occasional overtaking maneuver.

    3. The New Yorkers I met were very nice and helpful for the most part. Didn´t notice any of the supposed awful NY attitude.

    4. I find the attitude in this Improv Everywhere thing artificial and lame and if they tried it on me I´d have the appropriate words for them.

  18. Last time I was in NY, I actually saw a family stop in the middle of a crowded sidewalk – and by crowded I mean I was near Times Square at rush hour – set down their small child on the sidewalk, and step well back to take a photo.

    (appropriately enough, my verification words are “go filthy”)

  19. I think the folks who are so up in arms about this need to look at the intention of the thing. It wasn’t truly meant to be insulting or mean-spirited. It’s just people taking an idea that has crossed the mind of anyone who has spent a great deal of time in a city and, as a lark, bringing it to fruition. Could the guys in the vests been a little bit nicer? Sure. Then again, people tend to pay more attention to those who act like they have authority, even when they have none. I don’t think Improv Everywhere had bad intentions. In the end, it was funny.

    As for how I’ve found New Yorkers? Utterly delightful. For all of the negative stereotypes, I found them to be helpful, friendly, funny and genuinely welcoming to tourists.

  20. As a current New Yorker who watched the video without sound, I’d like to applaud the idea of a fast/slow lane. I hope the improv everywhere guys weren’t condescending, but I can’t tell without the sound on.

    For those getting all uppity at the concept (leaving the 3 guys’ attitude aside), you need to stop being so self-important. Sure, locals should be considerate of people who are astonished by the lofty buildings… But in Manhattan, sidewalks are not “the scenic route” for getting around the city – they are in fact the major transportation conduit. You wouldn’t complain of a slow/fast lane separation on the highway. Perhaps the only difference here is that the group labeled the slow lane for tourists, which is what takes the idea from a great concept into a snarky one.

    And by the way, I love to help lost people find their way on the streets or subway, but if you feel the city owes you personal space as you amble through midtown, you’re in for a rude awakening.

    1. I hope the improv everywhere guys weren’t condescending, but I can’t tell without the sound on.

      Unfortunately, they were. This idea could be spun in an entirely different way, like designating a “slow lane” for everyone who wants to walk slow, text, look at buildings, etc.
      Of course then it wouldn´t have that edgy, self-aggrandizing “New Yorker attitude”, that I personally haven´t experienced with any actual New Yorkers.

  21. While I appreciate the idea of this I don’t believe it is fair to single out tourists as the only annoyance to walking in NY. (I run the gauntlet of GCT to Ninth ave twice daily.) Plenty of “New Yorkers” are just as guilty of inconsiderate behavior as out of towners. Walking and texting, random stops and changes of direction, passing without regard to oncoming traffic are epidemic and all stem from a lack of courtesy to others.

  22. the worst park it that two of them standing in the middle of the sidewalk blocking everyone.
    There should be: a fast lane, a slow lane
    and then a small circle off to the side for completely stopped. that’s where these two belong.

  23. 1k: a)I’m not a New Yorker, nor have I been to New York. b)New Yorkers are assholes. c)You should know and expect this. d)You’re a fucking waste of humanity if you can’t take this with a pinch of salt, go crawl back into the hole you came from and die quietly, you fucktard, anus-breath, shitbag. e)Take a chill pill yo!

    2k: I went to New York and found the residents to be some of the most friendly and engaging people on the planet. I can’t tell you how great it was, you should go yourself. Oh, and these guys seem to be sublimating their rage through passive-aggressive behaviour and you shouldn’t take it to mean all New Yorkers are assholes.

    Hmmm… What’s behind door number one I wonder?

    1. You’re not from New York? You sound like you should be yo!
      Anyone, (other than myself in this one instance) that still uses the word ‘yo’ as you have is fucking waste of humanity if you can’t take this with a pinch of salt, go crawl back into the hole you came from and die quietly, you fucktard, anus-breath, shitbag.
      I hope you don’t kiss your kids, (or mom, wife, etc) with such a foul mouth.

      1. oops. Read the whole comment dude…
        and yes; re-reading, I am surprised at my own use of language.
        I feel I may have belaboured my point and apologise.
        Sorry peeps.
        Also, props to anyone who got the extra-secret, buried insult in the final line.
        I’ll get me coat.

  24. Hilarious.

    We actually have something like this in Vancouver. The escalators in the Skytrain (metro/subway) stations are labeled “Walk Left, Stand Right”, and it is really quite useful most of the time. The whole system gets pretty jammed up in the summer when overwhelming numbers of tourists are understandably too busy etching neural pathways trying to figure out where they are, and don’t notice the signs. We could have really used the sidewalk version during the Olympics, but the whole city was pretty much shut down and in party mode anyway.

    By the way, New Yorkers look and act like dopey tourists when they come here, so I’m not offended by the gag.

  25. Thanks! This helps confirm the notion that New Yorkers are a bunch of A-holes.

    Of course that’s a bunch of bs – I won’t generalize a whole city. I doubt New Yorkers are any more inclined to be a bunch of jerks than someone from the Deep South is inclined to be a banjo playing toothless moron. This video doesn’t help their side very much though.

  26. As a New Yorker trying to get to/from home, I find tourists extremely rude to me and others like me.

    They tend to walk extremely slowly gawking at things I’ve seen daily over and over again. They walk in very large groups following a guy with an umbrella or other item, several dozen of them together, blocking the side walks to the point where I have to walk in the street and risk getting hit by busses, or have to walk in the bike lanes, pissing off the poor guys on bikes.

    When on the side walks, they make frequent and sudden stops, they walk shoulder to shoulder 3 or 4 wide, sometimes holding hands, as if at any moment some mugger will jump out from one of the jewelery stores on 5th ave and relieve them of their maps.

    A lot of times, I also see them holding their rolling luggage behind them, sometimes one in each arm, and walking around and sightseeing. Um, hello, leave that at your hotels, or if it’s time to go, grab a subway or a taxi and GTFO.

    We do not appreciate having to navigate around you, you large XXXL wearing slow roadblocks!

    If you want to visit our city, that’s fine, just get off the side walks during rush hour and lunch please.

    If you believe this kind of behavior should be tolerated, you’re the rude one.

    I make it a point to walk around infront of the 4 shoulder to shoulder hand holders, and then slow down and walk very slowly for about 10 seconds, blocking them the way they were blocking me. Hopefully they get the point and move faster. I suspect they don’t, but it’s fun anyway.

    I do the same to the obvious New Yorkers who are busy texting on their crackberries, or checking email or whatever. Sidewalks are for walking. If you need to check your email or text your mistress, go stand off to the side out of the way of traffic.

    Yes, I’m an asshole, welcome to New York City.

    How would you like it if we came to your towns and walked in the middle of your highways blocking your car from getting you to work?

  27. I will take a vowel drawing, acid wash to the knee jeans short wearing, fat assed cankled down to the athletic socked feet stuffed into dirty white sneaker, stupid motto t-shirt wearin’

    or the gaggle of bizarrely dressed french b-boys with affected hair and way to colorful air jordans, and baseball cap at a rakish angle that screams mug my ass

    or the perfectly salt and pepper coiffed, was that jacket tailored, and how’d you get a non-orange tan, and do they even sell watches that nice here Italian/Dutch/Swiss/German retiree couple


    OVER my mother fuckin’, pompous assed, Messiah birthing, priced outta Tribeca, let their dog shit in front of the not renovated brownstone, bull shit Brownstone Brooklyn neighbors

    any got damned day of the week!

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