Big cities have a special allure. The vibrant energy, diverse cultures, and seemingly endless possibilities make them a preferred tourist destination — and an exciting place to live. The unspoken promise of opportunity and unforgettable moments makes big cities feel irresistible, even if visiting or living there does come with cons to go with the pros.
While they’re often hubs of innovation and ambition, with plenty of options for work or education, the fast-paced lifestyle and the high cost of living can be overwhelming.
The complicated reality of big-city life has long held a prominent place in the minds of thinkers and writers, leading to some influential works over the years. Ernest Hemingway never got over his time in Paris, while urbanist Jane Jacobs’ thoughtful, community-minded approach to city life has had major impacts in some of the biggest cities in the world.
This selection of quotes from the aforementioned figures and others cover everything — the good, the bad, and the beautiful — about big cities and their place in our lives and imaginations.
The seeds of civilization are in every culture, but it is city life that brings them to fruition.Susanne Katherina Langer
I have an affection for a great city. I feel safe in the neighbourhood of man, and enjoy the sweet security of the streets.Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.Jane Jacobs
As an artificial world, the city should be so in the best sense: made by art, shaped for human purposes.Kevin Lynch
New York was no mere city. It was instead an infinitely romantic notion, the mysterious nexus of all love and money and power, the shining and perishable dream itself.Joan Didion
A city is more than a place in space, it is a drama in time.Patrick Geddes
The city hung in my window, flat as a poster, glittering and blinking, but it might just as well not have been there at all, for the good it did me.Sylvia Plath
I have never felt salvation in nature. I love cities above all.Michelangelo Antonioni
London opens to you like a novel itself … It is divided into chapters, the chapters into scenes, the scenes into sentences; it opens to you like a series of rooms, door, passage, door.Anna Quindlen
As a remedy to life in society, I would suggest the big city. Nowadays it is the only desert within our reach.Albert Camus
A city is a place where there is no need to wait for next week to get the answer to a question, to taste the food of any country, to find new voices to listen to and familiar ones to listen to again.Margaret Mead
If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.Ernest Hemingway
All great art is born of the metropolis.Ezra Pound
Cities, like cats, will reveal themselves at night.Rupert Brooke
The city is a fact in nature, like a cave, a run of mackerel or an ant-heap. But it is also a conscious work of art, and it holds within its communal framework many simpler and more personal forms of art.Lewis Mumford
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