Three New Yorks

“There are roughly three New Yorks. There is, first, the New York of the man or woman who was born here, who takes the city for granted and accepts its size and its turbulence as natural and inevitable. Second, there is the New York of the commuter–the city that is devoured by locusts each day and spat out each night. Third, there is the New York of the person who was born somewhere else and came to New York in quest of something. Of these three trembling cities the greatest is the last–the city of final destination, the city that is a goal. It is the third city that accounts for New York’s high-strung disposition, its poetical deportment, its dedication to the arts, and its incomparable achievements. Commuters give the city its tidal restlessness; natives give it solidity and continuity; but the settlers give it passion. And whether it is a farmer arriving from Italy to set up a small grocery store in a slum, or a young girl arriving from a small town in Mississippi to escape the indignity of being observed by her neighbors, or a boy arriving from the Corn Belt with a manuscript in his suitcase and a pain in his heart, it makes no difference: each embraces New York with the intense excitement of first love, each absorbs New York with the fresh eyes of an adventurer, each generates heat and light to dwarf the Consolidated Edison Company.”

–E. B. White, “Here is New York”


7 responses to “Three New Yorks

  1. Yet, eventually that first love becomes, sometimes gradually, sometimes quickly, diminished. Like a sparkler, all the light and magic fizzle out.

    Or not . . .

  2. hmm heh, well, I know of at least one person who’s not so keen on the hipster settlers…

  3. A site called Die Hipster wishes death on no one? Sounds like someone has some issues . . .

  4. That passage wasn’t written now a days. If E.B. White saw the masses of talentless wanna-be’s flocking here just because they have a fedora hat wearing friend who moved here a few months ago, he wouldn’t have felt that way. You have to admit I’m right. You just have to.

  5. Pingback: Hipsters, Wifi and Absenteeism « Subway Philosophy

  6. I read that quote on the 6 train the other day and made a mental note to google it later. Pure coincidence that one of the random blogs I follow posts the quote too? Or maybe the MTA repeats the “poetry in motion” panels too often…

  7. Clearly this is your thesis, the justification for your adoption of “New Yorker” as your identity. I wonder, out of idle curiosity, if you could find the counterargument?

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