107 New York Quotes To Transport You To The City That Never Sleeps

Start Spreadin’ the News: These NYC Quotes Show The Big Apple Some Love

September 16, 2021 Updated October 21, 2021

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Even if you’ve never traveled to New York City, you still probably know more about it (or at least the Hollywood version of it) than most places you’ve never visited. And there’s a good reason for that: NYC is allllll over pretty much every type of pop culture: from TV shows (like Friends, Seinfeld, and Sex and the City), to movies (Working Girl, Elf, Breakfast at Tiffany’s), to books (The Catcher in the Rye, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, The Great Gatsby), to art, music, podcasts — you name it. For many of us, our exposure to New York City starts when we’re young and fascinated with the goings-on in the neighborhood on Sesame Street. So, unsurprisingly, people have a lot of thoughts about the city, many of which have stuck with us as famous New York quotes.

Whether they come from Hamilton lyrics, well-known residents, or influential visitors, New York City quotes tell it like it is (another great New York tradition). And, yes, you can use these as NYC Instagram captions, too. So without further ado, this collection of quotes will mentally transport you to Manhattan.

New York Quotes That Embody the Big Apple

  1. “There is something in the New York air that makes sleep useless.” — Simone de Beauvoir
  2. “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
  3. “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
  4. “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
  5. “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
  6. “If Louis was right, and you only get one great love, New York may just be mine. And I can’t have nobody talking shit about my boyfriend.” — Carrie Bradshaw (played by Sarah Jessica Parker) on Sex and the City
  7. “The true New Yorker secretly believes that people living anywhere else have to be, in some sense, kidding.” — John Updike
  8. “Most people are in New York because they need evidence—in large quantities—of human expressiveness, and they need it not now and then, but every day. That is what they need. Those who go off to the manageable cities can do without; those who come to New York cannot.” — Vivian Gornick
  9. “Each neighborhood of the city appeared to be made of a different substance, each seemed to have a different air pressure, a different psychic weight: the bright lights and shuttered shops, the housing projects and luxury hotels, the fire escapes and city parks.” — Teju Cole
  10. “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, writer of Breakfast at Tiffany’s
  11. “If you want to become a real New Yorker, there’s only one rule: You have to believe New York is, has been, and always will be the greatest city on earth. The center of the universe.” — Ellen R. Shapiro
  12. “It is ridiculous to set a detective story in New York City. New York City is itself a detective story.” — Agatha Christie
  13. “A hundred times I have thought: New York is a catastrophe, and fifty times: it is a beautiful catastrophe.” — Le Corbusier
  14. “One belongs to New York instantly, one belongs to it as much in five minutes as in five years.” — Thomas Wolfe
  15. “One can’t paint New York as it is, but rather as it is felt.”— Georgia O’Keefe
  16. “New York is not a city — it’s a world.” — Iman
  17. “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
  18. “Here we are, Marv. New York City, the land of opportunity.” — Harry (played by Joe Pesci) on Home Alone 2
  19. “When it’s 100 degrees in New York, it’s 72 in Los Angeles. When it’s 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
  20. “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 (played by Tina Fey) on 30 Rock
  21. “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
  22. “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
  23. “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? And then people tell me about pilgrimages to some dank pesthole in a jungle where they go to do homage to a crumbling temple, to a leering stone monster with a potbelly, created by some leprous savage. Is it beauty and genius they want to see? Do they seek a sense of the sublime? Let them come to New York, stand on the shore of the Hudson, look and kneel. 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
  24. “It’s pretty cliched, but Times Square is just incredible. You really feel like you’re in the capital of the world.” — Timothy F. Cahill
  25. “New York is really the place to be; to go to New York, you’re going to the centre of the world, the lion’s den.” — Zubin Mehta
  26. “The wanderer in Manhattan must go forth with a certain innocence because New York is best seen with innocent eyes.” — Pete Hamill
  27. “If London is a watercolor, New York is an oil painting.” — Peter Shaffer
  28. “Once you have lived in New York and made it your home, no place else is good enough.” — John Steinbeck
  29. “New York had all the iridescence of the beginning of the world.” — F. Scott Fitzgerald
  30. “One belongs to New York instantly, one belongs to it as much in five minutes as in five years.” — Tom Wolfe
  31. “Give me the streets of Manhattan!” — Walt Whitman
  32. “I love New York on summer afternoons when everyone’s away.” — F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
  33. “There is more sophistication and less sense in New York than anywhere else on the globe.” — Elbert Hubbard
  34. “Being a New Yorker grounds you in every way. Before you walk out of the house, you can dress in the nicest clothes and be whoever you think you are, but when you’re on those streets, you’re just in the school of fish.” — Awkwafina
  35. “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
  36. “I don’t like cities. But I like New York. Other places make me feel like a dork.” — Madonna
  37. “The great city of New York wields more of the destinies of this great nation than five times the population of any other portion of the country.” — Malcolm S. Forbes
  38. “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, Bluebeard
  39. “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
  40. “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
  41. “In New York, the opportunities for learning, and acquiring a culture that shall not come out of the ruins, but belong to life, are probably greater than anywhere else in the world.” — Thomas Wolfe, Of Life and the River
  42. “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
  43. “Make your mark in New York and you are a made man.” — Mark Twain
  44. “People go to LA to ‘find themselves.’ They come to New York to become someone new.” — Lindsey Kelk, I Heart New York
  45. “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
  46. “‘New York!’ he said. ‘That’s not a place, it’s a dream.'” — Ralph Ellison
  47. “Anything is possible. This is New York.” — Carrie Bradshaw (played by Sarah Jessica Parker) on Sex and the City
  48. “Probably everything in my life comes back to a feeling of abandonment, and this city never abandons you.” — Ann Douglas
  49. “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
  50. “Only in a crowded, diverse place like New York, surrounded by strangeness, do I come home to myself.” — Jonathan Franzen, How to Be Alone
  51. “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
  52. “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, City of Girls
  53. “Curtains forcing their will against the wind, children sleep, exchanging dreams with seraphim. The city drags itself awake on subway straps; and I, an alarm, awake as a rumor of war, lie stretching into dawn, unasked and unheeded.” — Maya Angelou
  54. “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
  55. “New York City is where specks of dust aspire randomly with all their cunning to become grains of sand.” — David B. Lentz, The Fine Art of Grace
  56. “And New York is the most beautiful city in the world? It is not far from it. No urban night is like the night there… squares after squares of flame, set up, and cut into the ether. Here is our poetry, for we have pulled down the stairs to our will.” — Ezra Pound
  57. “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
  58. “Practically everybody in New York has half a mind to write a book — and does.” — Groucho Marx
  59. “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
  60. “So many lights you’d think we were living in a constellation.” — Jodi Lynn Anderson, Midnight at the Electric
  61. “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
  62. “When I had a look at the lights of Broadway by night, I said to my American friends: ‘What a glorious garden of wonders this would be, to any who was lucky enough to be unable to read.'” — G.K. Chesterson
  63. “In New York, the sky is bluer, and the grass is greener, and the girls are prettier, and the steaks are thicker, and the buildings are higher, and the streets are wider, and the air is finer, than the sky, or the grass, or the girls, or the steaks, or the air of any place else in the world.” — Edna Ferber
  64. “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
  65. “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
  66. “Yet, as only New Yorkers know, if you can get through the twilight, you’ll live through the night.” — Dorothy Parker
  67. “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
  68. “Every true New Yorker believes with all his heart that when a New Yorker is tired of New York, he is tired of life.” — Robert Moses
  69. “New York is the meeting place of the peoples, the only city where you can hardly find a typical American.” — Djuna Barnes
  70. “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 Lundquist
  71. “Anytime four New Yorkers get into a cab together without arguing, a bank robbery has just taken place.” — Johnny Carson
  72. “New York is a city that plays hard to get. You want me? You better work for it.” — Rony Vardi
  73. “The flag of New York City should be someone with four bags opening a door with their shoulder.” — Alex Baze
  74. “Don’t you love New York in the fall? It makes me wanna buy school supplies. I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address.” — Joe Fox (played by Tom Hanks) in You’ve Got Mail
  75. “New York is strange in the summer. Life goes on as usual but it’s not; it’s like everyone is just pretending as if everyone has been cast as the star in a movie about their life, so they’re one step removed from it. And then in September, it all gets normal again.” — Peter Cameron
  76. “For me, New York is comfortable, not strange.” — Karl Lagerfeld
  77. “The glamour of it all! New York! America!” — Charlie Chaplin
  78. “Pull up the shades so I can see New York. I don’t want to go home in the dark.” — O. Henry
  79. “I regret profoundly that I was not an American and not born in Greenwich Village. It might be dying, and there might be a lot of dirt in the air you breathe, but this is where it’s happening.” — John Lennon
  80. “When you leave New York, you ain’t going anywhere.” — Jimmy Breslin
  81. “This isn’t a fairytale. It’s New York City.” — Alex Flinn
  82. “You haven’t lived until you died in New York City.” — Alexander Woollcott
  83. “I love New York City… you’re never alone, but you’re always on your own.” — Blair Waldorf (played by Leighton Meester) on Gossip Girl
  84. “The diversity, the food, the culture, the constant change — New York City is truly one of the most inspiring places on the planet.” — XXMK
  85. “New York has romanced me unlike anything else.” — Blake Lively
  86. “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
  87. “Things always change and New York teaches you that.” — Richard Hell
  88. “If you’re greedy for life, that’s what New York is all about. If you’re trying to get as much as you can every day, this city is the place to be.” — Pam Nelson
  89. “I don’t like Los Angeles. The people are awful and terribly shallow, and everybody wants to be famous, but nobody wants to play the game. I’m from New York. I will kill to get what I need.” — Lady Gaga
  90. “New York is a different country. Maybe it ought to have a separate government. Everybody thinks differently, they just don’t know what the hell the rest of the United States is.” — Henry Ford

New York Song Lyrics to Belt Out

  1. “Welcome to New York,
    It’s been waiting for you.” — Taylor Swift, “Welcome to New York”
  2. “There’s nothing you can’t do,
    Now you’re in New York,
    These streets will make you feel brand new
    Big lights will inspire you.” — Jay-Z ft. Alicia Keys, “Empire State of Mind”
  3. “Hey, I’ve got nothing to do today but smile;
    Da-n-do-da-n-do-da-n-do, here I am,
    The only living boy in New York.” — Simon & Garfunkel, “The Only Living Boy in New York”
  4. “Little Joe never once gave it away,
    Everybody had to pay and pay,
    A hustle here and a hustle there,
    New York City’s the place where they said,
    ‘Hey, babe, take a walk on the wild side.'” — Lou Reed, “Walk on the Wild Side”
  5. “Purple love-amour is all you’re in it for,
    But don’t show it,
    The reason that you’re cool is ’cause you’re from the old school,
    And they know it,
    All the critics love you in New York.” — Prince, “All the Critics Love U in New York”
  6. “New York isn’t New York without you, love,
    Too few of our old crew left on Astor.” — St. Vincent, “New York”
  7. “New New York skyline,
    Wounds may heal in time,
    Don’t crumble, don’t dismay,
    It’s a new New York today.” — Cranberries, “New New York”
  8. “I’m going to Coney Island, to have myself a dog,
    And reminisce why I still hate it here,
    It’s all these people with their cotton candy eyes,
    It’s so sweet now, put the train in gear.” — Good Old War, “Coney Island”
  9. “New York City, please go easy on this heart of mine,
    ‘Cause I’m losing my lover to the arms of another,
    New York City, please go easy on me tonight.” — The Chainsmokers, “New York City”
  10. “Do you wanna go home so soon?
    Or maybe we should take a ride through the night,
    And sing along to every song that’s on the radio,
    In the back of a taxi cab in Brooklyn.” — Ed Sheeran, “New York”
  11. “Some folks like to get away, take a holiday from the neighborhood,
    Hop a flight to Miami Beach or to Hollywood,
    But I’m taking a Greyhound on the Hudson River line,
    I’m in a New York state of mind.” — Billy Joel, “New York State of Mind”
  12. “Brooklyn saw me, empty at the news,
    There’s no water inside this swimming pool,
    Almost over, had enough from you.” — Harry Styles, “Ever Since New York”
  13. “And head to toe I’m Prada-covered,
    I know your girl well, just not in public,
    Blame the city, I’m a product of it.” — Drake, “6PM in New York”
  14. “I’ve got feathers in my hair,
    I get down to Beat poetry,
    And my jazz collection’s rare,
    I can play most anything,
    I’m a Brooklyn baby.” — Lana Del Rey
  15. “It’s easier to leave than to be left behind,
    Leaving was never my proud,
    Leaving New York, never easy,
    I saw the light fading out.” — R.E.M., “Leaving New York”
  16. “Autumn in New York,
    Why does it seem so inviting?
    Autumn in New York,
    It spells the thrill of first-nighting.” — Billie Holiday, “Autumn in New York”
  17. “Start spreading the news,
    You’re leaving today (tell him, friend),
    I want to be a part of it,
    New York, New York,
    Your vagabond shoes, they are longing to stray,
    And steps around the heart of it,
    New York, New York.” — Frank Sinatra, “New York, New York”