On name tag day, New Yorkers will aim for kinder, gentler image

The stereotype of the cold, hard New Yorker is one that a city group hopes to thaw.

An outfit of civic-minded residents plans to hand out at least 30,000 -- and perhaps up to 200,000 -- free name tags in New York on June 1, as a mass conversation starter in the city that (allegedly) never speaks.

The project "will break down the small barriers between people" and propagate good, said creator Michael Morgenstern, 27, a Williamsburg filmmaker. He also plans to have people upload footage of the event to nametagday.com that he and other volunteers will "crowd edit."

Given that a 2012 Travel + Leisure magazine survey found NYC to be the rudest city in the world -- the magazine called out the city's "bird-flipping spirit" -- perhaps we need some social help.

"It's cute, it's friendly and it's fun," said Gail Morse, director of programs and volunteers for Big Apple Greeter, whose 300 volunteers escort visitors through NYC for free.

The city's rep as a hostile hub is unmerited, Morse added. "New York is one of the friendliest places in the world," and New Yorkers are the least xenophobic, most accepting people anywhere, she insisted.

"People misunderstand our hurried pace for rudeness," she said. "If we acknowledged everyone around us all the time, we'd never get anything done."

The bad rap derives from the high crime of the 1970s, when everyone was on guard, but is no longer deserved, said David Rosenthal, 49, of Chelsea. He added that he would wear a name tag because "I'm friendly."

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