Did you know that in both New York and San Francisco Bay Area, locals refer to only specific parts of the area as “the city”? I’ll explain.
If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, you understand that “the city” means in the city limits of San Francisco. This may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how this is taken for granted locally. I used to live in Berkeley, which is a rather major city just next door, and I would “go to the city for a show.” BART (the local commuter rail in the San Francisco bay area) stops running around midnight, so a friend with a car might get a call at 12:30am with you saying “Hey… I’m stuck in the city, could you come get me?” A friend in Oakland, also a major city in the Bay Area, might say “I moved out of the city because I couldn’t afford it anymore!” The city! It’s just a term that local people use with each other in speech. You might not see it in print, and you might not hear it unless you’re talking to someone that lives in either of these places.
Here in New York, “the city” means Manhattan. I live in Brooklyn, and when I’m going to Manhattan, I might say, “I’m going to the city this afternoon, so call me if you want to meet up!” Yes, technically I live in “New York City” but locally we have a very specific meaning for this phrase. Most of my students in Queens work in “the city” and plenty of people from New Jersey come to “the city” to go out at night.
I thought I’d share these things because there are so many people here on Chictopia who are from all parts of the world, and since I teach English and culture to foreigners here, I notice these little gaps in knowledge!