25 Great Literature Quotes about New York City

Here are 25 of the best literature lines about New York City.
[Gathered by Regina Kenney]


“The city seen from the Queensboro Bridge is always the city seen for the first time, in its first wild promise of all the mystery and the beauty in the world.”
― F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby


“I love New York, even though it isn’t mine, the way something has to be, a tree or a street or a house, something, anyway, that belongs to me because I belong to it.”
― Truman Capote


“The true New Yorker secretly believes that people living anywhere else have to be, in some sense, kidding.” 
― John Updike


“I would give the greatest sunset in the world for one sight of New York’s skyline. Particularly when one can’t see the details. Just the shapes. 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?”
― Ayn Rand, The Fountainhead


“One belongs to New York instantly, one belongs to it as much in five minutes as in five years.” 
― Tom Wolfe


“Yet, as only New Yorkers know, if you can get through the twilight, you’ll live through the night.” 
― Dorothy Parker


“New York is an ugly city, a dirty city. Its climate is a scandal, its politics are used to frighten children, its traffic is madness, its competition is murderous. 
But there is one thing about it – once you have lived in New York and it has become your home, no place else is good enough.”
― John Steinbeck, America and Americans and Selected Nonfiction


“If London is a watercolor, New York is an oil painting.” 
― Peter Shaffer


“What’s the use of a great city having temptations if fellows don’t yield to them?”
― P.G. Wodehouse, Carry on, Jeeves


“London is satisfied, Paris is resigned, but New York is always hopeful. Always it believes that something good is about to come off, and it must hurry to meet it.”
― Dorothy Parker

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“For in that city there is neurosis in the air which the inhabitants mistake for energy.”
― Evelyn Waugh


“New York was a city where you could be frozen to death in the midst of a busy street and nobody would notice.”
― Bob Dylan, Chronicles, Vol. 1


“This is the city, and I am one of the citizens/Whatever interests the rest interests me”
― Walt Whitman


“Cut off as I am, it is inevitable that I should sometimes feel like a shadow walking in a shadowy world. When this happens I ask to be taken to New York City. Always I return home weary but I have the comforting certainty that mankind is real flesh and I myself am not a dream.”
― Helen Keller, Midstream: My Later Life

Seated Portrait of E.B. White

“New York provides not only a continuing excitation but also a spectacle that is continuing.”
― E.B. White


“Skyscraper National Park.”
― Kurt Vonnegut


“I’m bound to say that New York’s a topping place to be exiled in. Everybody was awfully good to me, and there seemed to be plenty of things going on, and I’m a wealthy bird, so everything was fine.”
― P.G. Wodehouse, My Man Jeeves


“There is something in the New York air that makes sleep useless.”
― Simone de Beauvoir


“Sometimes, from beyond the skyscrapers, the cry of a tugboat finds you in your insomnia, and you remember that this desert of iron and cement is an island.”
― Albert Camus


“The thing that impressed me then as now about New York… was the sharp, and at the same time immense, contrast it showed between the dull and the shrewd, the strong and the weak, the rich and the poor, the wise and the ignorant… the strong, or those who ultimately dominated, were so very strong, and the weak so very, very weak – and so very, very many.”
― Theodore Dreiser


“New York is appalling, fantastically charmless and elaborately dire.”
― Henry James


“As for New York City, it is a place apart. There is not its match in any other country in the world.”
― Pearl S. Buck


“If man can live in Manhattan, he can live anywhere.”
― Arthur C. Clarke


“Silence? What can New York-noisy, roaring, rumbling, tumbling, bustling, story, turbulent New York-have to do with silence? Amid the universal clatter, the incessant din of business, the all swallowing vortex of the great money whirlpool-who has any, even distant, idea of the profound repose……of silence?”
― Walt Whitman


“New York is large, glamorous, easy-going, kindly and incurious, but above all it is a crucible – because it is large enough to be incurious.”
― Ford Madox Ford


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