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This question already has an answer here:

What is the reason for the /private directory structure located at the root of an OSX system volume? Why are /etc, /tmp, and /var symlinks to subdirectories of /private?

NOTE While writing my question, I discovered this answer to another question which seems to address this issue. I'm going to post my question anyway because it contains the terms that I searched for. The other question/answer doesn't, prompting me to start writing this question in the first place.

marked as duplicate by nohillside Jul 18 '14 at 16:59

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

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    I'm going to close this as a duplicate. Don't worry though, your question will still show up in search so anybody searching along the same search terms as you did will still find your question. – nohillside Jul 18 '14 at 16:59
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This answer to another, more specific question explains that this directory structure quirk is a vestige of OSX's NextStep heritage.

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