New York City, also known as New York, is the largest city of the United States by population. It was settled in 1613 by Dutch and originally called New Amsterdam. New York City is popularly known as the "The Big Apple", "Gotham City", "Empire City", "Fun City", "The Naked City" and the "City That Never Sleeps". Manhattan Island is often referred to as "The City" by New Yorkers, despite being only one part of the city itself. New York City is often referred to as "the Capital of the World", due to its size, wealth, and for its hosting of the United Nations headquarters.
- Sorted alphabetically by author or source
- The last time anybody made a list of the top hundred character attributes of New Yorkers, common sense snuck in at number 79.
- Douglas Adams, "Mostly Harmless".
- New York is the only city in the world where you can get deliberately run down on the sidewalk by a pedestrian.
- Russell Baker, reported in Rand Lindsly's Quotations.
- Everybody ought to have a lower East Side in their life.
- Irving Berlin, Vogue (Nov. 1, 1962)
- I can't see heaven but I credit hell —
I live in New York so I know it well.
- John Brunner, Stand on Zanzibar (1968), the happening world (6): "Street Seen"
- Manhattan. Sometimes from beyond the skyscrapers, across thousands of high walls, the fearful cry of a too-well-known voice finds you in your insomnia in the middle of the night, and you remember that this desert of iron and cement is an island of un-reality.
- Albert Camus, American Journals (1978).
- New York is the only real city-city.
- Truman Capote, Quoted by James A. Clapp in The City: A Dictionary of Quotable Thoughts on Cities and Urban Life
- New York was no mere city. It was instead an infinitely romantic notion, the mysterious nexus of all love and money and power, the shining and the perishable dream itself. To think of 'living' there was to reduce the miraculous to the mundane; one does not 'live' at Xanadu.
- New York: where everyone mutinies but no one deserts.
- Harry Hershfield, reported in Rand Lindsly's Quotations.
- I used to love to call L.A. when I lived in New York. "What're y'all doin'? Talkin' to TV producers, huh? Bummer. Me? I'm readin' a book! Yeah, we're thinkin' back East! Yeah, we're evolving. Is that "The Big One" I hear in the background? Bye, you lizard scum, bye!
- Bill Hicks, "Goodbye, Lizard Scum" Arizona Bay.
- New York is appalling, fantastically charmless and elaborately dire.
- Henry James, Selected Letters of Henry James, Edited by Leon Edel
- New York City is the most fatally fascinating thing in America. She sits like a great witch at the gate of the country, showing her alluring white face, and hiding her crooked hands and feet under the folds of her wide garments,--constantly enticing thousands from far within, and tempting those who come from across the seas to go no farther. And all these become the victims of her caprice. Some she at once crushes beneath her cruel feet; others she condemns to a fate like that of galley slaves; a few she favors and fondles, riding them high on the bubbles of fortune; then with a sudden breath she blows the bubbles out and laughs mockingly as she watches them fall.
- James Weldon Johnson, The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man.
- Leave us alone, or else expect us in New York and Washington.
- When you leave New York, you are astonished at how clean the rest of the world is. Clean is not enough.
- Fran Lebowitz, reported in Rand Lindsly's Quotations.
- A hundred times I have thought: New York is a catastrophe, and fifty times: it is a beautiful catastrophe.
- New York now leads the world's great cities in the number of people around whom you shouldn't make a sudden move.
- David Letterman, Late Show with David Letterman Feb. 9, 1984.
- Traffic signals in New York are just rough guidelines.
- David Letterman, Late Show with David Letterman.
- New York: A third-rate Babylon.
- H. L. Mencken, reported in Rand Lindsly's Quotations.
- I bow my head to the victims of terrorism. I am highly impressed of the courage of New York residents. The great city and the great American nation are to win!
- Vladimir V. Putin, inscription at the World Trade Center Memorial Wall (15 November 2001).
- That particular sense of sacred rapture men say they experience in contemplating nature- I've never received it from nature, only from. Buildings, Skyscrapers. I would give the greatest sunset in the world for one sight of New York's skyline. The shapes and the thought that made them. The sky over New York and the will of man made visible. What other religion do we need? And then people tell me about pilgrimages to some dank pest-hole in a jungle where they go to do homage to a crumbling temple, to a leering stone monster with a pot belly, created by some leprous savage. Is it beauty and genius they want to see? Do they seek a sense of the sublime? Let them come to New York, stand on the shore of the Hudson, look and kneel. When I see the city from my window - no, I don't feel how small I am - but I feel that if a war came to threaten this, I would like to throw myself into space, over the city, and protect these buildings with my body.
- Living in California adds ten years to a man's life. And those extra ten years I'd like to spent in New York.
- Harry Ruby, reported in Rand Lindsly's Quotations.
- New York is a woman, holding, according to history, a rag called liberty with one hand, and strangling the earth with the other.
- Syrian poet Ali Ahmad Said (pseudonym Adunis) in "The Funeral of New York".
- When its 100 degrees in New York, its 78 in Los Angeles. When its 10 degrees in New York, its 78 in Los Angeles. There are two million interesting people in New York. There are 78 in Los Angeles.
- New York is baffling in that it's a city that prides itself on being an absolute shithole. It's like — there's nothing good here, people are proud of that, they're happy, 'Oh, it's overpriced, and it's overpopulated, and it stinks like piss, and comics! — comics film specials here!' And they all open with a joke about, 'Yeah, you spend 8 thousand dollars a month for 9 square feet!' And you go, 'Well, why do you fucking live here?' Why do people stay here?.. But unfortunately, this is where comedy works — where people are the most miserable.
- Doug Stanhope, No Refunds.
- Sometimes I get bored riding down the beautiful streets of L.A. I know it sounds crazy, but I just want to go to New York and see people suffer.
- Donna Summer, reported in Rand Lindsly's Quotations.
- City of prose and fantasy, of capitalist automatism, its streets a triumph of cubism, its moral philosophy that of the dollar. New York impressed me tremendously because, more than any other city, it is the fullest expression of our modern age.
- Leon Trotsky, My Life, 1930. Baron, Joseph L., ed (1956). A Treasury of Jewish Quotations. New York: Crown Publishers, Inc.. p. 332.
- The true New Yorker secretly believes that people living anywhere else have to be, in some sense, kidding.
- John Updike, The New Yorker (March 29, 1976)
- Village neighbors [Singing theme song]:
In this cold and heartless city
Isn't the village a pretty place
Aglow in the morning sun?
Though the world may not be perfect yet,
Still the only way we're gonna get any better is if we try.
Look at the fun we've been missing
Things like huggin' and kissin'
So let's enjoy it the way we should.
Tell me what's so bad,
Tell me what's so bad
About feeling good?
Always thought that life was just a drag
Now this daisy's got a brand new bag
Hey world take a good look at me.
Though I'm flying high as a kite,
What turns me on is the sight of life,
The grooviest trip of all
Best kick I've ever had,
So tell me what's so bad about feeling good?
- Village neighbors [Singing theme song]: So don't forget to carry a smile
And maybe after a while it will all turn out the way it should
So tell me what's so bad about feeling good?
- What's So Bad About Feeling Good? (1968), theme song sung by the Village neighbors in the film.
- Village neighbors [Singing theme song]:
- The subtlest change in New York is something people don't speak much about but that is in everyone's mind. The city, for the first time in its long history, is destructible. A single flight of planes no bigger than a wedge of geese can quickly end this island fantasy, burn the towers, crumble the bridges, turn the underground passages into lethal chambers, cremate the millions. The intimation of mortality is part of New York now: in the sounds of jets overhead, in the black headlines of the latest edition.
All dwellers in cities must dwell with the stubborn fact of annihilation; in New York the fact is somewhat more concentrated because of the concentration of the city itself and because, of all targets, New York has a certain clear priority. In the mind of whatever perverted dreamer who might loose the lightning, New York must hold a steady, irresistible charm.
- E.B. White, "Here Is New York," Holiday (1948); reprinted in Here is New York (1949)
- No one should come to New York to live unless he is willing to be lucky.
- E.B. White, Here is New York (1949)
- New York blazes like a magnificent jewel in its fit setting of sea, and earth, and stars.
- One belongs to New York instantly, one belongs to it as much in five minutes as in five years.
- Thomas Wolfe, Explore, April 15, 2009 edition
- In New York the opportunities for learning, and acquiring a culture that shall not come out of the ruins, but belong to life, are probably greater than anywhere else in the world.
- From my room, I could lie across my bed and watch the cars rush along Central Park West. In a hurry to get someplace. Everyone in New York is in a hurry. You see businessmen walking fast, their heads bowed, the cuffs of their pants flapping hard against their ankles. They don't look at anyone. Once I followed this man, walking so close behind him I could have been his daughter—but he never even looked over and noticed me. For two blocks I walked like that beside him. It made me sad for him—that he could walk through this world without looking left or right.
- Jacqueline Woodson, If You Come Softly (1998) p. 15-16
- Fiction; inner thoughts of Elisha
- New York is symbolic for the pride of mankind.
Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922)Edit
Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 552-53.
- Stream of the living world
Where dash the billows of strife!—
One plunge in the mighty torrent
Is a year of tamer life!
City of glorious days,
Of hope, and labour and mirth,
With room and to spare, on thy splendid bays
For the ships of all the earth!
- Richard Watson Gilder, The City.
- Silent, grim, colossal, the Big City has ever stood against its revilers. They call it hard as iron; they say that nothing of pity beats in its bosom; they compare its streets with lonely forests and deserts of lava. But beneath the hard crust of the lobster is found a delectable and luscious food. Perhaps a different simile would have been wiser. Still nobody should take offence. We would call nobody a lobster with good and sufficient claws.
- O. Henry, Between Rounds. In Four Million.
- New York is the Caoutchouc City. * * * They have the furor rubberendi.
- O. Henry, Comedy in Rubber. In The Voice of the City.
- In dress, habits, manners, provincialism, routine and narrowness, he acquired that charming insolence, that irritating completeness, that sophisticated crassness, that overbalanced poise that makes the Manhattan gentleman so delightfully small in his greatness.
- O. Henry, Defeat of the City. In The Voice of the City.
- Far below and around lay the city like a ragged purple dream. The irregular houses were like the broken exteriors of cliffs lining deep gulches and winding streams. Some were mountainous; some lay in long, monotonous rows like, the basalt precipices hanging over desert cañons. Such was the background of the wonderful, cruel, enchanting, bewildering, fatal, great city. But into this background were cut myriads of brilliant parallelograms and circles and squares through which glowed many colored lights. And out of the violet and purple depths ascended like the city's soul, sounds and odors and thrills that make up the civic body. There arose the breath of gaiety unrestrained, of love, of hate, of all the passions that man can know. There below him lay all things, good or bad, that can be brought from the four corners of the earth to instruct, please, thrill, enrich, elevate, cast down, nurture or kill. Thus the flavor of it came up to him and went into his blood.
- O. Henry, The Duel. In Strictly Business.
- Well, little old Noisyville-on-the-Subway is good enough for me * * * Me for it from the rathskellers up. Sixth Avenue is the West now to me.
- O. Henry, The Duel. In Strictly Business.
- "If you don't mind me asking," came the bell-like tones of the Golden Diana, "I'd like to know where you got that City Hall brogue. I did not know that Liberty was necessarily Irish." "If ye'd studied the history of art in its foreign complications, ye'd not need to ask," replied Mrs. Liberty, "If ye wasn't so light and giddy ye'd know that I was made by a Dago and presented to the American people on behalf of the French Government for the purpose of welcomin' Irish immigrants into the Dutch city of New York. 'Tis that I've been doing night and day since I was erected."
- O. Henry, The Lady Higher Up. In Sixes and Sevens.
- GEORGE WASHINGTON, with his right arm upraised, sits his iron horse at the lower corner of Union Square * * * Should the General raise his left hand as he has raised his right, it would point to a quarter of the city that forms a haven for the oppressed and suppressed of foreign lands. In the cause of national or personal freedom they have found refuge here, and the patriot who made it for them sits his steed, overlooking their district, while he listens through his left ear to vaudeville that caricatures the posterity of his protégés.
- O. Henry, A Philistine in Bohemia. In Voice of the City.
- If there ever was an aviary overstocked with jays it is that Yaptown-on-the-Hudson, called New York. Cosmopolitan they call it, you bet. So's a piece of fly-paper. You listen close when they're buzzing and trying to pull their feet out of the sticky stuff. "Little old New York's good enough for us"—that's what they sing.
- O. Henry, A Tempered Wind. In The Gentle Grafter.
- You'd think New York people was all wise; but no, they can't get a chance to learn. Every thing's too compressed. Even the hayseeds are bailed hayseeds. But what else can you expect from a town that's shut off from the world by the ocean on one side and New Jersey on the other?
- O. Henry, A Tempered Wind. In The Gentle Grafter.
- Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of exiles.
- Emma Lazarus, The New Colossus.
- Some day this old Broadway shall climb to the skies,
As a ribbon of cloud on a soul-wind shall rise,
And we shall be lifted, rejoicing by night,
Till we join with the planets who choir their delight.
The signs in the streets and the signs in the skies
Shall make a new Zodiac, guiding the wise,
And Broadway make one with that marvelous stair
That is climbed by the rainbow-clad spirits of prayer.
- Vachel Lindsay, Rhyme about an Electrical Advertising Sign.
- Up in the heights of the evening skies I see my City of Cities float
In sunset's golden and crimson dyes: I look and a great joy clutches my throat!
Plateau of roofs by canyons crossed: windows by thousands fire-furled—
O gazing, how the heart is lost in the Deepest City in the World.
- James Oppenheim, New York from a Skyscraper.
- Just where the Treasury's marble front
* Looks over Wall Street's mingled nations,—
Where Jews and Gentiles most are wont
* To throng for trade and last, quotations;
Where, hour, by hour, the rates of gold
* Outrival, in the ears of people,
The quarter-chimes, serenely tolled
From Trinity's undaunted steeple.
- Edmund Clarence Stedman, Pan in Wall Street.
- Lo! body and soul!—this land!
Mighty Manhattan, with spires, and
The sparkling and hurrying tides, and the ships;
The varied and ample land,—the South
And the North in the light—Ohio's shores, and flashing Missouri,
And ever the far-spreading prairies, covered with grass and corn.
- Walt Whitman, Sequel to Drum-Taps. When Lilacs Last in the Door-Yard Bloom'd, Stanza 12.
- Cause when you leave New York
Man, you don't go anywhere
It's a city where a man
Can fulfill his dreams
The only town that's left
That's got three baseball teams
(That's why New York's his home)
Let me never leave it
New York's my home, sweet home
- Sammy Davis, Jr., New York's My Home (1956)
- I run New York. Yayo tell them, I run New York.
- You're fucking with a dirty New Yorker. Queens in this bitch, fall back or get roped up.
- In New York, concrete jungle where dreams are made, oh
There's nothing you can't do, now you're in New York
These streets will make you feel brand new
Big lights will inspire you, let's hear it for New York
New York, New York.
- But we're hunters; we take pride in airing our prey out. Leaving them laid out, dead, in just a sport. Because we aren't playing up here in New York.
- One hand in the air for the big city
Street lights, big dreams, all lookin' pretty
No place in the world that could compare
Put your lighters in the air
Everybody say "yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah"
- 'Cause everyone's my friend in New York City
And everything looks beautiful when you're young and pretty
The streets are paved with diamonds and there's just so much to see
But the best thing about New York City is you and me.
- They Might Be Giants, New York City.
- New York, I love you. But, you're bringing me down. Like a rat in a cage, pulling minimum wage.
- In New York freedom looks like too many choices
In New York I found a friend to drown out the other voices
Voices on the cell phone
Voices from home
Voices of the hard sell
Voices down the stairwell
In New York, just got a place in New York
- U2, New York.
- I had seven faces
thought I knew which one to wear
But I'm sick of spending these lonely nights
training myself not to care
the subway, she is a porno
and the pavements they are a mess
I know you've supported me for a long time
somehow I'm not impressed
New York Cares (got to be some more change in my life)
- Interpol, NYC.
- Me, I'm takin' a Greyhound
On the Hudson River line
I'm in a New York State of Mind
- Billy Joel, New York State of Mind.
- It's easier to leave than to be left behind
Leaving was never my proud
Leaving New York, never easy
I saw the light fading out
You find it in your heart, it's pulling me apart
You find it in your heart, change...
- R.E.M., Leaving New York.
- Why do we still live here
In this repulsive town?
All our friends are in New York
- The Magnetic Fields, 100,000 Fireflies.