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[ Also see Cities ]

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

George Washington, with his right art 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 the proteges.
      - O. Henry (pseudonym of William Sydney Porter),
        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, call 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 (pseudonym of William Sydney Porter),
        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 hay-seeds are bailed hay-seeds. But what else can you expect from a town that's shut off for the world by the ocean on one side and New Jersey on the other?
      - O. Henry (pseudonym of William Sydney Porter),
        A Tempered Wind, in "The Gentle Grafter"

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 (pseudonym of William Sydney Porter),
        Between Rounds, in "Four Million"

New York is the Caoutchouc City. . . . They have the furor rubberendi.
      - O. Henry (pseudonym of William Sydney Porter),
        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 (pseudonym of William Sydney Porter),
        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 canons. 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, sound 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 (pseudonym of William Sydney Porter),
        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 (pseudonym of William Sydney Porter),
        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 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 (pseudonym of William Sydney Porter),
        The Lady Higher Up,
        in "Sixes and Sevens"

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.
      - Nicholas Vachel Lindsay,
        Rhyme about an Electrical Advertising Sign

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

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
         (st. 12)

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Last Revised: 2018 December 9

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