Native New Yorkers wait on line rather than in line and use vocabulary such as sneakers and soda in preference over running shoes and pop. Stoop is also exclusive to New York English and was borrowed from the Dutch. The word American is often pronounced with a u rather than an e (Amurican). Words in a sentence often run into one another and it is generally agreed that some (but not all) New Yorkers speak in a very non-distinguished manner. th's for example often sound closer to d's but often lie somewhere in between.
The accent was built up from older generation Americans imitating European settlers. One of the most notable influences were in fact the British. Though Americans made a conscious decision to make their brand of English noticeably different from the British, many features of British English snuck back into New York English. Because British English is non-rhotic (r's are often not pronounced), New Yorkers developed a habit of leaving r's off of words where it would seem ridiculous to the average American. Also words in a stereotypical New York accent can be very close to British pronunciation.
Talk, Water, Walk, Caught, Taught, Law, All, Audio etc.
It is suspected but will never be confirmed that because British migrants were of low social standing, features of their English were also assimilated. For example time may often sound like toime for some New Yorkers and this is faintly similar to working class London English.
Another influence on the accent was the Dutch. Most notably in the slanting back of flat a's. Bad then may sound more like bed and bag like beg. This is also found in sections of north eastern New Jersey. Many other Europeans may have inadvertently influenced New Yorkers speech patterns but the origins of many features may never be traced back to their original source.
The accent is highly stigmatized in American culture and is closely associated with things such as hip-hop music, mobsters, and the working class in general. The heaviest accents are receding quickly which is shame as it has been a focal point of NYC culture for many years. Not too long from now the accent will be a distant memory and all Americans will speak a generic form of English often deemed the 'correct' way of speaking. What a shame.
Turtle from Entourage
Victoria Gotti and her kids
And shitloads of others I can't think of right now. New York English all the way baby.
Those who portray it as low-class or ugly, forget that some of the finest speakers of the English language, including Robert Rinero and Christopher Walken, have thick New York accents.
Some features it is known for were previously common, but are now disappearing (such as pronouncing "girl" as "goil" which noone except very old men does anymore).
One of the most widespread features is pronouncing the "a" in words Kerry and carry seperately. Most Americans pronounce the short a in words like "carry", "Larry" "vary", and "marry" with an e, giving them the same vowel as "berry".
A slightly less common, but still widespread feature is an additional vowel not used in General American English, often written as "aww. In words like "caught", "long", "off, and sometimes even "dog" or "fog" are pronounced with the lips more rounded into an o-like a. Most Americans and Canadians as well just pronounce it with a long a, as in "father".
One feature that's still easy to find, but not necessarily the norm anymore, is r-dropping, as in other Northeastern US accents, pronouncing "here" and "there" "hee-uh" and "theh-uh". Many of those that don't drop the r at least soften it, or only drop it in some words while speaking quickly.
Many many good MC's