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New York City

  • New York has always prided itself on its bad manners. That is the real source of our strength.

  • A car is useless in New York, essential everywhere else. The same with good manners.

  • ... in New York it's not whether you win or lose — it's how you lay the blame.

  • ... if you live in New York and you have a guest room, you have guests. So I think it's best not to have a guest room.

  • You must never be afraid in New York City, because then you will call bad stuff to you and you will not like it there.

  • All people talk of money sometimes, everywhere. But not for all people, everywhere, is money the addiction, the obsession, the stimulant, that it seems to be in New York. It is a large part of the clamor, and it is the voice — quite literally — of the man in the street.

  • The New York voice reflects its diversity, its foreignness, and, inevitably, the sense of superiority New Yorkers feel or come to feel. It says, without saying, We Know.

  • It is ridiculous to set a detective story in New York City. New York City is itself a detective story.

  • ... New York is everything that ambitious youth has ever dreamed of it, it is utterly, ultimately soul-filling. It is romantic, it is exciting, it is never two seconds the same. Lost a thousand times over in the hurry and bustle of the millions, we used to feel sometimes that we were as free as disembodied spirits; nobody cared what became of us, or what we thought, or said, or did.

  • New York is the meeting place of the peoples, the only city where you can hardly find a typical American.

    • Djuna Barnes,
    • "Greenwich Village As It Is," in Pearson's Magazine ()
  • ... New York rose out of the water like a great wave that found it impossible to return again and so remained there in horror, peering out of the million windows man had caged it with.

    • Djuna Barnes,
    • "The Hem of Manhattan," in New York Morning Telegraph Sunday Magazine ()
  • Nothing is more likely to start me screaming like a madwoman than New York in February with its piles of blackened snow full of yellow holes drilled by dogs.

  • Sophistication called for a variety of talents and attitudes, but the minimum requirement was being in New York. Not all New Yorkers achieved it, but nobody elsewhere had a prayer.

  • New York was where we wanted to live when we were finally grown up, and drink martinis and stay out past bedtime ...

  • I can't get over the exciting beauty of New York — the pencil buildings so high and far that the blueness of the sky floats about them; the feeling that one's taxis, and shopping, all go on in the deep canyon-beds of natural erosions rather than in the excrescences of human builders.

    • Freya Stark,
    • 1943, in Caroline Moorehead, ed., Over the Rim of the World: Freya Stark Selected Letters ()
  • It was the old New York way of taking life 'without effusion of blood': the way of people who dreaded scandal more than disease, who placed decency above courage, and who considered that nothing was more ill-bred than 'scenes,' except the behavior of those who gave rise to them.

  • It's a dirty little secret that most New Yorkers are pleasant, thoughtful, patient, and polite. The Chamber of Commerce must work overtime to maintain the surly, off-putting image that is widely believed to define the city. In truth, niceness is nearly epidemic in this town.

  • It seems to me, correct me if I'm wrong, that there are an awful lot of people in Manhattan. And it's getting worse.

  • New York, thy name is irreverence and hyperbole. And grandeur.

  • In New York, the impact of these concentrated superskyscrapers on street scale and sunlight, on the city's aniquated support systems, circulation, and infrastructure, on its already tenuous livability, overrides any aesthetic. ... Art becomes worthless in a city brutalized by overdevelopment.

  • The skyline of New York is a monument of a splendor that no pyramids or palaces will ever equal or approach.

  • New York ... that unnatural city where every one is an exile, none more so than the American.

  • In New York the acoustics are good for laughter, for life is all external, all action, no thought, no meditation, no dreaming, no reflection, only the exuberance of action.

    • Anaïs Nin,
    • 1934, The Diary of Anaïs Nin, vol. 2 ()
  • New York seems conducted by jazz, animated by it. It is essentially a city of rhythm.

    • Anaïs Nin,
    • 1934, The Diary of Anaïs Nin, vol. 2 ()
  • Paris-New York, the two high tension magnetic poles between life, life of the senses, of the spirit in Paris, and life in action in New York.

    • Anaïs Nin,
    • 1934, The Diary of Anaïs Nin, vol. 2 ()
  • I miss the animal buoyancy of New York, the animal vitality. I did not mind that it had no meaning and no depth.

    • Anaïs Nin,
    • 1935, The Diary of Anaïs Nin, vol. 2 ()
  • New York has an electronic heart.

    • Anaïs Nin,
    • 1965, The Diary of Anaïs Nin, vol. 6 ()
  • Ah! some love Paris, / And some Purdue. / But love is an archer with a low I.Q. / A bold, bad bowman, and innocent of pity. / So I'm in love with / New York City.

    • Phyllis McGinley,
    • "A Kind of Love Letter to New York," The Love Letters of Phyllis McGinley ()
  • Nowhere more than in New York does the contest between squalor and splendor so sharply present itself.

  • [On New York:] ... a city rose before me. It was narrow and tall like a gothic temple, surrounded by water, and ... it suddenly appeared, as if with a slight push it detached itself out of the invisible into the visible.

  • Moscow, Rome, London, Paris stay in place. Leningrad and New York float, spreading all their sails, cutting space with their prows, and can disappear, if not in reality, then in the imagination of the poet creating a myth, a mythical tradition on the grounds of his secret experience.

  • That's the New York thing, isn't it. People who seem absolutely crazy going around telling you how crazy they used to be before they had therapy.

  • Inside, the cathedral is a Gothic forest dappled in violet twilight and vast with quiet.

    • Wendy Insinger,
    • "Hosanna for New York's St. John the Divine," in Town and Country ()
  • In New York, the lights never go off. I don't care what time of morning or what time of night it is, you gonna see light.

  • New York is so great, it have two names: New York, New York.

  • I've been in New York only a few days and I have learned only two words of your language: one is Swell, and the other is Lousy. ... 'It's swell to be with you and excuse, please, my lousy English!'

  • ... it is a surprising thing that the largest city in the world should have a population as gentle and pleasant and intimate and considerate and comforting as a little bit of a place where everybody knows everybody and everything, but astonishing or not it is perfectly true and the inhabitants of New York are just like that, and they are like that and this thing is a delightful, natural and gentle and sweet and comforting thing.

    • Gertrude Stein,
    • "I Came and Here I Am" (1935), How Writing Is Written ()
  • They smiled at each other with hatred in their hearts — the normal landlord-tenant relationship in New York; perhaps the normal landlord-tenant relationship anywhere.

  • Live and let live is New York. You go your way; I'll go my own. You find your people; I shall find mine. They are here, no matter which language you speak. You need not be lonely in New York. We're crowded, yet we have room for you, not merely space for your body, your household goods, but for your spirit, too. We'll nourish that spirit, with our schools, our books, our galleries, our playgrounds, our parks, yes, with the very air that we breathe, that mixure of ferments and fumes, that hell's brew of our summer streets. It's the air of a volatile city, stirring and doing. No Athens. No Shangri-la. Merely Main Street of the world of ideas ...

  • New York's the place where you can have a private life. You can do anything, be anything you please. New Yorkers mind their own business. Police cars, ambulances, fire engines — nobody even turns around for them. We go to the movies for excitement.

  • ... to her cabbies had always been the city's nurses, its twenty-four-hours-a-day attendants through whose changing licenses one could clock the city's migrants — the world's.

  • ... like most people New Yorkers like to be thought a bit crazy. ... I know a business corporation in Manhattan — I dare not mention its name — which seems to me to be run entirely, top to bottom, by people off their balance. The minute I enter its offices, an uneasy suggestion of collective haywire assails me. Concealed and unapproachable behind his monumental mahogany doors sits the president of this corporation of nuts, mad as a hatter himself, and in hierarchy of psychosis his subordinates hiss and fiddle their days away below. Sometimes a whole department is fired: sometimes a surprised and hitherto unnoticed employee is plucked from obscurity and made the head of a division for a month or two; sometimes the company, which deals (let us say) in commodity shares, suddenly invests a few million dollars in a Chattanooga umbrella factory, or a grocery chain in Nicaragua.

    • Jan Morris,
    • "The Islanders" (1979), Among the Cities ()
  • New Yorkers are nice about giving you street directions; in fact, they seem quite proud of knowing where they are themselves.

  • They are among the world's worst listeners, although the more polite among them have developed a listening look of almost passionate intensity. The less polite exhibit candid and abysmal boredom. There are no New York expressions in between these two.

  • They read more book reviews than they do books.

  • They were New Yorkers. They knew everything.

  • New York is not like London, a now-and-then place to many people. You can either not live in New York or not live anyplace else. One is either a lover or hater.

  • No place has delicatessen like New York.

  • New York's the lonesomest place in the world if you don't know anybody.

    • Nella Larsen,
    • "Quicksand" (1928), An Intimation of Things Distant ()
  • ... Give me your tired, your poor, / Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, / The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. / Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me, / I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

    • Emma Lazarus,
    • "The New Colossus," inscription for the Statue of Liberty (1883), The Poems of Emma Lazarus, vol. 1 ()
  • Comparing the Brooklyn that I know with Manhattan is like comparing a comfortable and complacent duenna to her more brilliant and neurotic sister.

  • It is often said that New York is a city of only the very rich and the very poor. It is less often said that New York is also, at least for those of us who came there from somewhere else, a city for only the very young.

    • Joan Didion,
    • "Goodbye to All That," Slouching Towards Bethlehem ()
  • New York was no mere city. It was instead an infinitely romantic notion ...

    • Joan Didion,
    • "Farewell to the Enchanted City," in The Saturday Evening Post ()
  • ... the Empire State Building was tall. So what? Just proved New York builders didn't know when to stop at a good story.

  • The Bronx is up and the Battery's down, / The people ride in a hole in the ground, / New York, New York / It's a helluva town.

  • New York was the only city I knew in the world where you could be desperately lonely at nine in the morning, crossing the street for a bagel at Gristede's, and find that seven hours later you were drinking Irish coffee at P.J. Clarke's with all the friends you had inherited along the way.

  • New York is the perfect town for getting over a disappointment, a loss, or a broken heart.

  • The best way to get around in New York is to be both rich and patient ...

  • The New York waiter ... knows more than you do about everything. He disapproves of your taste in food and clothing, your gauche manners, your miserliness, and sometimes, it seems, of your very existence, which he tries to ignore.

  • New Yorkers are born all over the country and then they come to the city and it strikes them, 'Oh, this is who I am.'

  • [On New York City:] Were all America like this fair city, and all, no, only a small proportion of its population like the friends we left there, I should say that the land was the fairest in the world.

  • [On New York City:] Situated on an island, which I think it will one day cover, it rises, like Venice, from the sea, and like that fairest of cities in the days of her glory, receives into its lap tribute of all the riches of the earth.

  • [On New York City:] It's a million little islands and each has a heartbeat.

  • New York City is like the appetizer table at a Jewish wedding, loaded with salt and spice and cholesterol and flavor, with a waiter holding out pleasure in his right hand and indigestion in his left. If you've got the bucks, this burg has the bangs.

  • New York was home to me in the way it can be only to those who are born elsewhere.

  • [On New York City:] This city is noisy and crowded; it can be maddening, smelly, costly, and scary; and it's a perfect place to live if you don't trust air you can't see.

  • New York is the last true city.

  • [On New York City:] Coming from the quiet of Cambridge, still more than from Boston, the town seems to be undergoing an attack of delirium and looks very much as if it needed a keeper or it would run away and do something desperate.

    • Fanny Longfellow,
    • 1843, in Edward Wagenknecht, ed., Mrs. Longfellow: Selected Letters and Journals of Fanny Appleton Longfellow ()
  • After the quiet rational lives we Bostonians lead, for the most part, New York always appears to be undergoing an attack of delirium which forbids a moment's rest but breaks its victim on the wheel of petty frivolities. She brandishes straws, believing like the madman they are sceptres.

    • Fanny Longfellow,
    • 1843, in Edward Wagenknecht, ed., Mrs. Longfellow: Selected Letters and Journals of Fanny Appleton Longfellow ()
  • I would rather have a square inch of New York than all the rest of the world.

    • Texas Guinan,
    • in Dorothy Herrmann, With Malice Toward All ()
  • [On New York City:] From a dating point of view, it's like a really large rummage sale — lots of strange items, but darned little that you'd want to take home.

  • In a pure anonymous encounter you find a world alive and full of character. In New York, the street adventures are incredible. There are a thousand stories in a single block. You see the stories in people's faces. You hear the songs immediately. Here, in Los Angeles, there are fewer characters because they are all inside automobiles.

  • There are so many New Yorks that you can always find the special one that fits your special pattern.

  • [After being first woman to circumnavigate the world in 24 days:] The world is grand, awfully big and astonishingly beautiful, frequently thrilling. But I love New York.

  • New York is like a disco, but without the music.

  • New York, forever the port of em- and de-barkation en route to Adventure.

  • [On New York:] There's something hypocritical about a city that keeps half of its population underground half of the time; you can start believing that there's much more space than there really is — to live, to work.

  • If you must live in a city, New York is the only city in the world.

  • To get fifty people to a cocktail party in New York, you ask one hundred. In Hollywood, you invite twenty.

    • Elsa Maxwell,
    • in Malcolm Forbes, Women Who Made a Difference ()
  • The Cittie of New York is a pleasant, well compacted place, situated on a Commodius river which is a fine harbour for shipping. ... I left New-York with no Little regrett ...

  • New York was an idea, I thought, an idea held simultaneously by thirteen million people.

  • New York City was the world's biggest vibrator. Everything vibrated above, and below the streets.

  • Welcome to New York, where everybody's a stranger, and nobody is.

  • ... in New York there's such diversity that there's no one central identity; everyone is marginal.

  • Guys in Manhattan have the worst lines to try to meet you. ... I'd be walking down the street in cut-offs, with a newspaper, cup of coffee and a dog. A guy would say, 'Hey, live around here?'

    • Elayne Boosler,
    • in Mary Unterbrink, Funny Women: American Comediennes, 1860-1985 ()
  • I noticed that the actors were nervous about their agents, the agents nervous about studio producers, the producers about the chiefs of production, the chiefs of production about the studio heads, the studio heads about the banking firms in New York who financed the studios. By this time I was nervous too. So I cut through the red tape, and went to the natural habitat of the millionaire, New York. I figured to myself, why be nervous with somebody twelve times removed? Go to the City, Doris, and be nervous right up at the source.

  • I moved to New York City for my health. I'm paranoid and New York was the only place where my fears were justified.

  • [On the 1920s:] Hollywood was Grover's Corners compared with New York. The whole town had the DTs. Every boy had a flask at his hip and every girl a waist at her knees.

  • A ridiculous city, higher than it was broad, constantly on the brink of disaster, always throbbing with a special sort of magic. New York, New York, it's a wonderful town. Ask any New Yorker and hear him grumble. Then ask him if he'd live anywhere else in the world.

  • New York City is not for the faint of heart. For one thing, it is a very expensive place to live. The price for every single activity — whether it's sending your child to nursery school or buying a cappuccino or parking in a garage — is $11,000.