This question is a no brainer for all native New Yorkers (Duh, because everyone just does!) but to those of us who grew up in left walking and driving countries the queston is how did New Yorkers get it so wrong?
If you ever wished for a New York Guru who would seemlesly guide you through the complexities of NYC life then you are in luck. His sname is Jake Dobkin and he has a column called “Ask a Native New Yorker’in the Gothamist, a really terrific NYC newspaper, “Ask A Native New Yorker’ .
As you would expect of a native New Yorker Jake is a heady mixture of world weary cynicism, fanciful guesses and blunt truths so it’s always good to seek his advice. It might from time to time be harsh advice but it will help you to blend effortlessly into every NYC situation.
In the midst of answering a slightly different question he puts forward the opinion that right walking and driving in NYC is the result of a soulful communion with the spirit of NYC’s Dutch ancestors, an undying hatred of the English (Who walk and drive on the left) who were stupid enough to occupy Manhattan during the Revolutionary War and earn said undying hatred and because it’s natural and leaves all the right handed people in NYC ready to meet all emergencies.
Cultural historians who have looked at both left and right handed cultures have settled on the explanation that it’s just custom built up over time which, as an explanation, sounds right but a dead boring reason for doing something. However if you come from a left walking and driving country the most powerful reason for shifting to walking and driving on the right when in NYC is that you will simply be mown down and left a crumpled mess on the ground if you don’t.