10 Classic Quotes From “Here Is New York”

For book club this month we read E.B. White’s short novel (or essay, rather, coming in at just around 7,500 words), Here is New York.  A beautiful piece on the city that I’d encourage every New Yorker, or anyone who has a love for New York, to read.  Rather than do our usual book club discussion today, I’ve rounded up my favorite quotes from the book to share with you.  I think you’ll agree White is oozing with so many feelings for this city, he’d kick Taylor Swift out as ambassador any day (and that’s coming from a Taylor fan!;-)

unnamed“It (NYC) can destroy an individual, or it can fulfill him, depending a good deal on luck.  No one should come to New York to live unless he is willing to be lucky.”

“Many of its settlers are probably here merely to escape, not face, reality.”

“You always feel that either by shifting your location ten blocks of by reducing your fortune by five dollars you can experience rejuvenation.”

“Commuters give the city its tidal restlessness; natives give it solidity and continuity; but the settlers give it passion.”

“Mass hysteria is a terrible force, yet New Yorkers seem always to escape it by some tiny margin: they sit in stalled subways without claustrophobia, they extricate themselves from panic situations by some lucky wisecrack, they meet confusion and congestion with patience and grit–a sort of perpetual muddling through.”

“The city makes up for its hazards and its deficiencies by supplying its citizens with massive doses of a supplementary vitamin–the sense of belonging to something unique, cosmopolitan, mighty and unparalleled.”

“Many a New Yorker spends a lifetime within the confines of an area smaller than a country village.”

“The city is always full of young worshipful beginners–young actors, young aspiring poets, ballerinas, painters, reporters, singers–each depending on his own brand of tonic to stay alive, each with his own stable of giants.”
“The citizens of New York are tolerant not only from disposition but from necessity.  They city has to be tolerant, otherwise it would explode in a radioactive cloud of hate and rancor and bigotry.”

“New Yorkers temperamentally do not crave comfort and convenience–if they did they would live elsewhere.”

This book was written in 1948…do you feel like the above quotes represent modern day NYC fairly?  How much have we really changed?

2 Comments

  • Tracy Kaler says:

    Thank you so much for posting about this book. I have yet to, but it is on my agenda! It is my absolute favorite. I could read Here Is New York again and again, and each time I am captivated in a different way by E.B. White’s descriptive words about life in this amazing city. So much has changed since this book was written, but many of these quotes still hold true and always will, no matter how modernized NYC becomes.

    • Used York City says:

      So true! Even the way he writes about the ever-changing city still rings just as true today–restaurants open and close, subway lines are built, fashion changes with the season–it’s all part of the greatness that keeps NY what it is! So glad you loved the book just as much as I did, Tracy!:-)

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