It’s no secret that I absolutely adore New York City. After years of dreaming (and hard work!) I finally have the privilege of calling this exciting city home. But before my dream was realized, I relied heavily on my favorite New York City quotes to get me through until I could move here.
Sounds crazy, huh? It’s hard to explain, but I needed something to fill the void and bridge the gap between myself and my favorite city in the world! There was something magical about seeing “New York City” in writing. If you find yourself in a similar situation, I’d like to share my personal list of the best quotes about New York City.
Whether you use these NYC quotes to get by until you call the city home yourself, or even if you’re merely looking for New York City Instagram captions, I hope you find this list helpful.
With that said, let’s jump right in!
“New Yorkers are born all over the country, and then they come to New York City and it hits them: Oh, that’s who I am.” — Delia Ephron
Visiting New York City? If you haven’t decided where to stay (yet) check out our helpful guide on Where to Stay in New York City (The best neighborhoods for first timers +2 to avoid). Don’t have time? Here’s our favorite hotel in NYC, hands down.
One belongs to New York instantly, one belongs to it as much in five minutes as in five years.
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.
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
When you leave New York, you are astonished at how clean the rest of the world is. Clean is not enough. Fran Lebowitz
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.
New York is a work of art in and of itself. It’s a masterpiece that shouldn’t make sense, yet somehow, it does.
Jacqueline E. Smith
New York, I love you but you’re bringing me down.
It couldn’t have happened anywhere but in little old New York.
Everybody ought to have a lower East Side in their life. — Irving Berlin
Famous New York City Quotes
“One can’t paint New York as it is, but rather as it is felt.” ― Georgia O’Keeffe
Make your mark in New York and you are a made man. Mark Twain
“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
There is something in the New York air that makes sleep useless. Simone Beauvoir
New York is where you prove if what you think in theory makes sense in life. Miuccia Prada
“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
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
“The true New Yorker secretly believes that people living anywhere else have to be, in some sense, kidding.” — John Updike
“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.”
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
A bad day in New York City is still better than a good day anywhere else.
New York City Instagram Captions
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. On the other hand, this not knowing has its charms.
– Joe Fox
It is ridiculous to set a detective story in New York City. New York City is itself a detective story.
– Agatha Christie
“Anything is possible. This is New York.”
New York is large, glamorous, easy-going, kindly, and incurious, but above all, it is a crucible – because it is large enough to be incurious.
The skyline of New York is a monument of a splendor that no pyramids or palaces will ever equal or approach. — Ayn Rand
I left my heart in New York City.
I get out of the taxi and it’s probably the only city which in reality looks better than on the postcards, New York.
“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
A hundred times have I thought New York is a catastrophe, and fifty times: It is a beautiful catastrophe.
All the critics love you in New York
“New York is not a city. It’s a world.”
New York City was never built for the comfort and happiness of its citizens, but to astonish the world.
– Susan Ertz
New York City is where specks of dust aspire randomly with all their cunning to become grains of sand. — David B. Lentz
Major cities are not settled, they are constantly changing and taking the world with them.
Short NYC Quotes
“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
“For me, New York is comfortable, not strange.” – Karl Lagerfeld
I like the experience of being anonymous in the big city, I do not know anyone, so it’s easy to remember who I am.
“I want to wake up in a city that never sleeps.” — Frank Sinatra
New York, concrete jungle where dreams are made of. There’s nothing you can’t do. Now you’re in New York. These streets will make you feel brand new. The lights will inspire you.
Alicia Keys & Jay Z
“Welcome to New York. It’s been waiting for you.”
— Taylor Swift
The whole of New York is rebuilt about once in ten years. — Philip Hone
When I’m in New York, I just want to walk down the street and feel this thing, like I’m in a movie.
– Ryan Adams
Give me such shows — give me the streets of Manhattan!
“When you leave New York you ain’t going anywhere.”
– Jimmy Breslin
The wanderer in Manhattan must go forth with a certain innocence because New York is best seen with innocent eyes.
“You’re going to make it happen. This is New York.”
New York was the only place in America where a person could actually live a halfway livable life.
The thing I love about NYC is that it’s in a constant state of metamorphosis. It’s a vibrant place that has inspired me ever since I was a kid. Lin Manuel Miranda
New York is the only real city-city.
NYC Instagram captions, Instagram captions about NYC, NYC quotes
Interesting Quotes About New York City
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 order to love New York you have to hate it too. It’s like a love affair–you don’t hunger for it till it’s out of reach, and when you’ve had your fill, you need to separate. When you return, some of its unfamiliar, but oh my god, the beauty of it. — Connie Eisenstat
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
Some of us claim that New York City is the capital of the country, indeed the capital of the world. Now that may be a bit much for those who don’t come from New York, but clearly, we are an important city for reasons of our cultural advances. — David Dinkins
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.
New York is made up of millions of different people, and they all come here looking for something. — Lindsey Kelk
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.
I can’t with any conscience argue for New York with anyone. 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
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
More Interesting Quotes about NYC
“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.”
There is no place like it, no place with an atom of its glory, pride, and exultant. 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.
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.
New York is made up of millions of different people, and they all come here looking for something.
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
In the country, there are a few chances of sudden rejuvenation–a shift in weather, perhaps, or something arriving in the mail. But in New York the chances are endless.
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
“As for New York City, it is a place apart. There is not its match in any other country in the world.”
The city was different back then–poor and crumbling–kept alive only by the gritty determination and steely cynicism of its occupants. But underneath the dirt was the apple-cheeked optimism of possibility, and while she worked, the whole city seemed to throb along with her. — Candace Bushnell
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
New York is to the nation what the white church spire is to the village – the visible symbol of aspiration and faith, the white plume saying the way is up. — E.B. White
“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.”
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
New York is appalling, fantastically charmless, and elaborately dire.
Even if it ain’t all it seems, I got a pocketful of dreams. Baby, I’m from New York, a concrete jungle where dreams are made of. 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. Hear it for New York, New York, New York. — Alicia Keys
The most wonderful street in the universe is Broadway. It is a world within itself. High and low, rich and poor, pass along at a rate peculiar to New York, and positively bewildering to a stranger.
I didn’t know the city at all, but I was so happy to be in New York I cried. I was so excited.
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
“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
L.A., it’s nice, but I think of sunshine and people on rollerblades eating sushi. New York, I think of nighttime, I think of Times Square and Broadway and nightlife and the city that never sleeps. — Jimmy Fallon
Pull up the shades so I can see New York. I don’t want to go home in the dark. –O. Henry
NYC Quotes About Life
“Manhattan in the morning is a living stream of purpose; everyone’s got a place to be and a problem on their mind. That doesn’t mean it’s an unfriendly place — just busy and preoccupied. Personally, I love it. I’m a social creature but there are times and places you just don’t want to do more than grunt at your fellow human being.”
– Laura Anne Gilman
Unlike Rome, New York has never learned the art of growing old by playing on all its pasts. Its present invents itself, from hour to hour, in the act of throwing away its previous accomplishments and challenging the future.
Michel de Certeau
Sometimes to walk in shaded parts of Manhattan is to be inserted into a Magritte: the street is night while the sky is the day. — Joseph O’Neill
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
New York is a city that plays hard to get. You want me? You better work for it. I love the dirt combined with the adventure, the endless exploring (look up! go down that weird block!), the surprising specificity that you can find (button stores! Filipino barbecue!), and, of course, the mind-boggling stream of humans. — Rony Vardi
“Sometimes I feel like my only friend, is the city I live in, is beautiful Brooklyn.” — Mos Def
True New Yorkers do not really seek information about the outside world. They feel that if anything is not in New York it is not likely to be interesting. — Jimmy Breslin
For most New Yorkers, a celebrity’s presence in a restaurant is considered an enhancement of the dining experience, a perquisite of our metropolitan lives and an affirmation of our extracurricular tastes.
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.
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
Daily Life in NYC Quotes
Each neighborhood of the city appeared to be made of a different substance, each seemed to have 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
“I wake up every morning and say to myself, ‘Well, I’m still in New York. Thank you, God.” ― Ed Koch
“At night… the streets become rhythmical perspectives of glowing dotted lines, reflections hung upon them in the streets as the wisteria 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
“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
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 aether. Here is our poetry, for we have pulled down the stars to our will. — Ezra Pound
“Quiet is definitely not how I would describe New York, but if I go outside of the front door, I see the beautiful Central Park, so it’s a nice place to be.” – Petra Kvitová,
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
The thing that always attracted me to New York was the sense of being in a place where a lot of people had a lot of stories not unlike mine. — Salman Rushdie
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
That was New York; a whole cacophony of sounds and tastes that all somehow came together to form something beautiful. — Aishabella Sheikh
“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
Coming to New York from the muted mistiness of London, as I regularly do, is like traveling from a monochrome antique shop to a technicolor bazaar. — Kenneth Tynan
I love New York on summer afternoons when everyone’s away. There’s something very sensuous about it – overripe as if all sorts of funny fruits were going to fall into your hands.
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.
Deep New York City Quotes
“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. Commuters give the city its tidal restlessness; natives give it solidity and continuity; but the settlers give it passion. ”
— E. B. White
There was so much here, so much color and taste and light and motion. So much pain and so much hope. The city was ugly and beautiful at once, and it was always changing, always reintroducing itself to you; you couldn’t look away even for a moment, or you might miss the New York of today, which would be different from tomorrow’s New York and next week’s New York.
In New York, the opportunities for learning, and acquiring a culture that shall not come out of the ruins, but belongs to life, are probably greater than anywhere else in the world. — Thomas Wolfe
One good thing about New York is that most people function daily while in a low-grade depression. It’s not like if you’re in Los Angeles, where everyone’s so actively working on cheerfulness and mental and physical health that if they sense you’re down, they shun you. Also, all that sunshine is a cruel joke when you’re depressed. In New York, even in your misery, you feel like you belong.
To Europe she was America. To America, she was the gateway to the earth. But to tell the story of New York would be to write a social history of the world.
“It is often said that New York is a city for only the very rich and the very poor. It is less often said that New York is also, at least for those of us who came there from somewhere else, a city for only the very young.”
Well,’ I said, ‘Paris is old, is many centuries. You feel, in Paris, all the time gone by. That isn’t what you feel in New York — ’He was smiling. I stopped. ‘What do you feel in New York?’ he asked. ‘Perhaps you feel,’ I told him, ‘all the time to come. There’s such power there, everything is in such movement. You can’t help wondering—I can’t help wondering—what it will all be like—many years from now. — James Baldwin
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.
New York has an energy that takes root inside of you. Even a transplant like me gets to know the different boroughs, like they’re living, breathing organisms. There’s nowhere else like it. The city becomes a character in your life, a love you can’t take out of you. The mysteriously human element about this place can make you fall in love and break your heart at the same time. — Renee Carlino
Manhattan in the morning is a living stream of Purpose; everyone’s got a place to be and a problem on their mind. That doesn’t mean it’s an unfriendly place — just busy and preoccupied. Personally, I love it. I’m a social creature but there are times and places you just don’t want to do more than grunt at your fellow human being.
Laura Anne Gilman
Funny New York City Instagram Captions & Quotes
“Anytime four New Yorkers get into a cab together without arguing, a bank robbery has just taken place.” – Johnny Carson
The flag of New York City should be someone with four bags opening a door with their shoulder.
New York City is a great monument to the power of money and greed. A race for rent. — Frank Lloyd Wright
In New York, you’ve got to have all the luck. — Charles Bukowski
What’s the use of a great city having temptations if fellows don’t yield to them?
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
You don’t come to live here unless the delusion of a reality shaped around your own desires isn’t a strong aspect of your personality. ‘A reality shaped around your own desires’ —there is something sociopathic in that ambition.
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.
You could grow up in the city where history was made and still miss it all.
What’s the use of a great city having temptations if fellows don’t yield to them?
A middle finger is more New York than a corporate ambush. I bleed for my hometown, and I’d die for my fans. — Lady Gaga
“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
On a New York subway, you get fined for spitting, but you can throw up for nothing. — Lewis Grizzard
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
“It’ll be a great place if they ever finish it.” — O. Henry
People go to LA to “find themselves”, they come to New York to become someone new. — Lindsey Kelk
“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
I moved to New York City for my health. I’m paranoid and it was the only place where my fears were justified.
Best New York City Quotes from songs & musicians
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. Let’s hear it for New York.
Jay-Z and Alicia Keys
“I’m in a New York state of mind.” Billy Joel
Somewhere between living and dreaming, there’s New York. Dear New York, I’ll never get over you. I want to live as many lives as there are in New York City. Welcome to New York – it’s been waiting for you.
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
“Empire” isn’t just about New York. It’s about hope. No matter where we’re from, we all want the opportunity to work hard and breathe life into our ambitions.
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
Autumn in New York, why does it seem so inviting? Autumn in New York, it spells the thrill of first-nighting.
And there you have, a quick roundup of my favorite New York City quotes. I hope you enjoyed!
Until next time!
Ex-Brit turned Manhattan resident since 2008.