Everyone’s heard a New York quote before.
In this post, however, we’ve gathered them all—all the best quotes about New York City ever spoken or written.
Perhaps you’re struggling through a workday in Queens and you need a reminder of why you’re still in New York. Or maybe you just need that extra push to book that flight to JFK for yourself.
Whatever the case may be—
Here are the best New York City quotes around:
NY 101. It’ll rob you and cheat you. It’ll take your friends and turn them on you. It’ll kick your ass and break your heart. But then it’ll pick you up again, make you feel so totally alive and untouchable. It’s the center of the world, it’s the best place in the world, and once it’s in your heart it’ll never leave you.Ryan Kelly
Whoever is born in New York is ill-equipped to deal with any other city: all other cities seem, at best, a mistake, and, at worst, a fraud. No other city is so spitefully incoherent.James Baldwin
This is no ordinary city, this city of ours. This is the land of skyscrapers and yellow cabs: the capital of everything. This is the place songs are written about, movies are set and literature explores. This is the hip-hop spot, the heart of bebop, punk and soul. The synonym of rock and roll. This is five cities in one: the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, and Staten Island, home to every color, culture, fashion and flavor you can think of. This is knishes, kebabs, pizza, pâté, satay and all the best the rest of the world has to offer. This is where the ball drops and curtains rise. This is Broadway, Off Broadway, Off Off Broadway, beyond Broadway. This is people watching, celebrity sightings, and sample sale prices on the cutting edge of style. This is raw, sophisticated, beautiful, avant-garde. This is energy so exhilarating you can feel it in your soul. This is all of the above, all at the same time. This is New York City.NYCVisit.com
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 in America and Americans
New York is really the place to be; to go to New York, you’re going to the center of the world, the lion’s den.Zubin Mehta
Now I got these diaries that have the greatest hero a writer needs, this crazy fucking New York.Jim Carroll in The Basketball Diaries
Oh, we have Pride, for sure!
The gay world that flourished in the half-century between 1890 and the beginning of the Second World War, a highly visible, remarkably complex, and continually changing gay male world, took shape in New York City…. It is not supposed to have existed.George Chauncey
Coming to New York from the muted mistiness of London, as I regularly do, is like travelling from a monochrome antique shop to a technicolor bazaar.Kenneth Tynan
When I was younger, I had wanted to be at the very center of all the action in New York, but I slowly came to realize that there is no one center. The center is everywhere – wherever people are living out their lives. It’s a city with a million centers.Elizabeth Gilbert in City of Girls
I believe in New Yorkers. Whether they’ve ever questioned the dream in which they live, I wouldn’t know, because I won’t ever dare ask that question.Dylan Thomas
I go to Paris, I go to London, I go to Rome, and I always say, “There’s no place like New York. It’s the most exciting city in the world now. That’s the way it is. That’s it.”Robert De Niro
New York, you are an Egypt! But an Egypt turned inside out. For she erected pyramids of slavery to death, and you erect pyramids of democracy with the vertical organ-pipes of your skyscrapers all meeting at the point of infinity of liberty!Salvador Dalí
I didn’t know the city at all, but I was so happy to be in New York I cried. I was so excited.Greta Gerwig
One’s life and passion may be elsewhere, but New York is where you prove if what you think in theory makes sense in life.Miuccia Prada
New York is the meeting place of the peoples, the only city where you can hardly find a typical American.Djuna Barnes
If there were a god of New York, it would be the Greek’s Hermes, the Roman’s Mercury. He embodies New York qualities: the quick exchange, the fastness of language and style, craftiness, the mixing of people and crossing of borders, imagination.James Hillman
Those two gods also happen to be on our list of travel deities.
There is no place like it, no place with an atom of its glory, pride, and exultancy. It lays its hand upon a man’s bowels; he grows drunk with ecstasy; he grows young and full of glory, he feels that he can never die.Walt Whitman
I can’t with any conscience argue for New York with anyone. It’s like Calcutta. But I love the city in an emotional, irrational way, like loving your mother or your father even though they’re a drunk or a thief. I’ve loved the city my whole life — to me, it’s like a great woman.Woody Allen
In Rome I am weighted down by a lack of momentum, the inertia of a spent civilization. In New York I feel plugged into a strong alternating current of hope and despair.Ted Morgan
If I’d lived in Roman times, I’d have lived in Rome. Where else? Today America is the Roman Empire and New York is Rome itself.John Lennon
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
And New York is the most beautiful city in the world? It is not far from it. No urban nights are like the night there. I have looked down across the city from high windows. It is then that the great buildings lose reality and take on their magical powers. They are immaterial; that is to say, one sees but the lighted windows. Squares after squares of flame, set and cut into the Aether. Here is our poetry, for we have pulled down the stars to our will.Ezra Pound in Patria Mia
A hundred times have I thought New York is a catastrophe, and fifty times: It is a beautiful catastrophe.Le Corbusier
I was a girly-girl until I moved to New York. Then I got really into the androgynous look of the early-’90s club scene. I had really short hair and started blurring the line a bit. But for me, grade school was about Benetton, Esprit, and Guess jeans.Chloë Sevigny
Traffic signals in New York are just rough guidelines.David Letterman
By comparison with other less hectic days, the city is uncomfortable and inconvenient; but New Yorkers temperamentally do not crave comfort and convenience—if they did they would live elsewhere.E.B. White in Here Is New York
Well… not so sure about that. You can’t enjoy much more convenience than you do in New York!
Here are a few funny New York quotes to think about:
There’s something so romantic about being broke in New York. You gotta do it. You have to live there once without any money, and then you have to live there when you have money. Let me tell you, of the two, the latter is far better.Amy Poehler
Anytime four New Yorkers get into a cab together without arguing, a bank robbery has just taken place.Johnny Carson
You can try to change New York, but it’s like Jay-Z says: ‘Concrete bunghole where dreams are made up. There’s nothing you can do.’Liz Lemon on 30 Rock
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 in Breakfast At Tiffany’s
I get out of the taxi and it’s probably the only city which in reality looks better than on the postcards, New York.Milos Forman
Everybody ought to have a Lower East Side in their life.Irving Berlin
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
Yeah, New Yorkers may seem heartless and inconsiderate, at first. However…
The New York character coalesces. It’s rough around the edges. Brusque and opinionated, it’s also neurotic. Emphatic. It doesn’t mince words. It says what it means and means what it says. Sometimes it says, ‘Fuck you, you fuckin’ fuck.’Jeremiah Moss
My favorite thing about New York is the people, because I think they’re misunderstood. I don’t think people realize how kind New York people are.Bill Murray
That’s so true! I wrote an article on just that: Why Are New Yorkers Rude? (spoiler alert: we’re really not!)
So I went to New York City to be born again. It was and remains easy for most Americans to go somewhere else and start anew. I wasn’t like my parents. I didn’t have any supposedly sacred piece of land or shoals of friends to leave behind. Nowhere has the number zero been of more philosophical value than in the United States…. and when the [train] plunged into a tunnel under New York City, with its lining of pipes and wires, I was out of the womb and into the birth canal.Kurt Vonnegut in Bluebeard
When you leave New York, you are astonished at how clean the rest of the world is. Clean is not enough.Fran Lebowitz
Practically everybody in New York has half a mind to write a book — and does.Groucho Marx
And, if you want to write a book and are not yet living in New York City…
My advice for aspiring writers is go to New York. And if you can’t go to New York, go to the place that represents New York to you, where the standards for writing are high, there are other people who share your dreams, and where you can talk, talk, talk about your interests. Writing books begins in talking about it, like most human projects, and in being close to those who have already done what you propose to do.Walter Kirn
I love New York City. The reason I live in New York City is because it’s the loudest city on the planet Earth. It’s so loud I never have to listen to any of the shit that’s going on in my own head. It’s really loud. They literally have guys come with jackhammers and they drill the streets and just leave cones in front of your apartment; you don’t even know why. Garbage men come; they don’t pick up the garbage, they just bang the cans together.Lewis Black
Here are a few literary quotes about New York City sure to make you come visit immediately:
I look out the window and I see the lights and the skyline and the people on the street rushing around looking for action, love, and the world’s greatest chocolate chip cookie, and my heart does a little dance.Nora Ephron in the novel Heartburn
I … still had the sense, so peculiar to New York, that something extraordinary would happen any minute, any day, any month.Joan Didion
The glamour of it all! New York! America!Charlie Chaplin
Here’s one of my favorite quotes about New York City:
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 in Midstream: My Later Life
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
For me, New York is comfortable, not strange.Karl Lagerfeld
New York has a thousand universes in it that don’t always connect but we do all walk the same streets, hear the same sirens, ride the same subways, see the same headlines in the Post, read the same writings on the walls. That shared landscape gets inside of all of us and, in some small way, unites us, makes us think we know each other even when we don’t.Jay-Z
Quite simply, I was in love with New York. I do not mean ‘love’ in any colloquial way, I mean that I was in love with the city, the way you love the first person who ever touches you and you never love anyone quite that way again.Joan Didion in Goodbye To All That
I would give the greatest sunset in the world for one sight of New York’s skyline … What other religion do we need? 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 throw myself into space, over the city, and protect these buildings with my body.Ayn Rand
In terms of theater, there’s not a more supportive theater community than in New York. It’s really kind of a real thrill to go there. I mean, don’t forget, I’m a boy from the suburbs of Sydney, so getting to New York is a huge, huge thrill.Hugh Jackman
By the way… Ever wondered why New York is called the Big Apple? Check out our post for the full story!
More than anything else New York is a city of superlatives, a place where the best, the brightest, the biggest is the norm.Marilyn J. Appleberg
I love that about New York: You just dress the way you want to dress and feel really comfortable because nobody is judging. You can just be yourself, and it’s perfectly normal.Henrik Lundqvist
The skyline of New York is a monument of a splendor that no pyramids or palaces will ever equal or approach.Ayn Rand
That’s my favorite place in the world, so far, that I’ve seen. I haven’t travelled much, but I don’t think I’ll find anything to replace Brooklyn.Marilyn Monroe
This is the city of dreamers and time and again it’s the place where the greatest dream of all, the American dream, has been tested and has triumphed.Michael Bloomberg
I wake up every morning and say to myself, ‘Well, I’m still in New York. Thank you, God.Ed Koch
New York – that unnatural city where everyone is an exile, none more so than the American.Charlotte Perkins Gilman
When its 100 degrees in New York, it’s 72 in Los Angeles. When its 30 degrees in New York, in Los Angeles it’s still 72. However, there are 6 million interesting people in New York, and only 72 in Los Angeles.Neil Simon
The only credential the city asked was the boldness to dream. For those who did, it unlocked its gates and its treasures, not caring who they were or where they came from.Moss Hart, Act One
The whole of New York is rebuilt about once in ten years.Philip Hone
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
Sometimes to walk in shaded parts of Manhattan is to be inserted into a Magritte: the street is night while the sky is day.Joseph O’Neill
What, indeed, is a New Yorker? Is he Jew or Irish? Is he English or German? Is he Russian or Polish? He may be something of all these, and yet he is wholly none of them. Something has been added to him which he had not had before. he is endowed with a briskness and an invention often alien to his blood. He is quicker in his movement, less trammeled in his judgement… The change he undergoes is unmistakable, New York, indeed, resembles a magic cauldron. Those who are cast into it are born again.Charles Whibley in American Sketches
If man can live in Manhattan, he can live anywhere.Arthur C. Clarke
At night… the streets become rhythmical perspectives of glowing dotted lines, reflections hung upon them in the streets as the wistaria hangs its violet racemes on its trellis. The buildings are shimmering verticality, a gossamer veil, a festive scene-prop hanging there against the black sky to dazzle, entertain, amaze.Frank Lloyd Wright
The city is like poetry; it compresses all life, all races and breeds, into a small island and adds music and the accompaniment of internal engines.E.B. White
I love New York. You can pop out of the Underworld in Central Park, hail a taxi, head down Fifth Avenue with a giant hellhound loping behind you, and nobody even looks at you funny.Rick Riordan
There is more sophistication and less sense in New York than anywhere else on the globe.Elbert Hubbard
New York City is where specks of dust aspire randomly with all their cunning to become grains of sand.David B. Lentz in The Fine Art of Grace
People go to LA to “find themselves,” [but] they come to New York to become someone new.Lindsey Kelk in I Heart New York
Vulgar of manner, overfed,Byron Rufus Newton
Overdressed and underbred;
Heartless, Godless, hell’s delight,
Rude by day and lewd by night…
Crazed with avarice, lust and rum,
New York, thy name’s delirium.
While America will always, I think, feel foreign to me, New York City is my home. This is where I can construct my own identity freely and reject labels imposed on me.Raquel Cepeda in Bird of Paradise: How I Became Latina
Speaking of labels such as latina and latino, check out our guide on the differences between Latinx and Spanish!
Of course, in Los Angeles, everything is based on driving, even the killings. In New York, most people don’t have cars, so if you want to kill a person, you have to take the subway to their house. And sometimes on the way, the train is delayed and you get impatient, so you have to kill someone on the subway. That’s why there are so many subway murders; no one has a car.George Carlin
You can do what you like, sir, but I’ll tell you this. New York is the true capital of America. Every New Yorker knows it, and by God, we always shall.Edward Rutherfurd in New York
And, last but not least, here’s a beautiful ode to New York by none other than the great poet, Walt Whitman:
Keep your splendid silent sun,
Keep your woods O Nature, and the quiet places by the woods,
Keep your fields of clover and timothy, and your corn-fields and orchards,
Keep the blossoming buckwheat fields where the Ninth-month bees hum; Give me faces and streets—give me these phantoms incessant and endless along the trottoirs!
Give me interminable eyes—give me women—give me comrades and lovers by the thousand!
Let me see new ones every day—let me hold new ones by the hand every day!
Give me such shows—give me the streets of Manhattan!
Give me Broadway, with the soldiers marching—give me the sound of the trumpets and drums!
(The soldiers in companies or regiments—some starting away, flush’d and reckless,
Some, their time up, returning with thinn’d ranks, young, yet very old, worn, marching, noticing nothing;)
Give me the shores and wharves heavy-fringed with black ships!
O such for me! O an intense life, full to repletion and varied!
The life of the theatre, bar-room, huge hotel, for me!
The saloon of the steamer! the crowded excursion for me! the torchlight procession!
The dense brigade bound for the war, with high piled military wagons following;
People, endless, streaming, with strong voices, passions, pageants,
Manhattan streets with their powerful throbs, with beating drums as now,
The endless and noisy chorus, the rustle and clank of muskets, (even the sight of the wounded,)
Manhattan crowds, with their turbulent musical chorus!
Manhattan faces and eyes forever for me.
—Walt Whitman in the poem “Give me the Splendid Silent Sun,” from the book New York Observed: Artists and Writers Look at the City
Well, that’s all for our quotes about New York City. Got any feedback, questions or other NYC quotes to add to this post? Let us know in the comments below, and thanks for reading!