Throwback Thursday: Here Is New York

by Alex R. Travers

“No one should come to New York unless he is willing to be lucky,” wrote E. B. White in his 1949 short story Here Is New York. But even if you’ve only just visited New York, you have to consider yourself lucky; if you’re a resident, you’re even luckier. For Quest’s “Throwback Thursdays,” it seemed appropriate to revisit White’s story and take a walk through the city that never sleeps.

While much of New York’s skyline has changed since it was written, the city’s innards still pulse with the same kinetic energy. The New York White portrays is a romantic one, a city that seems to float above a reservoir of mystery. His result is an incredible achievement; a poetic and honest account of the city without any self-congratulating prose. At times, when analytical detachment to New York’s Darwinian culture feels certain, White pulls you back in with a vice grip. Even as he writes the story from a small room in 90-degree heat, his cynicism is always straightforward. Certainly, Here Is New York is White’s valentine to this city; his words proudly wave Manhattan’s flag. And the author’s suggested conviction—“The island of Manhattan is without any doubt the greatest human concentrate on earth, the poem whose magic is comprehensible to millions of permanent residents but whose full meaning will always remain elusive”—will carry his voice through generations of New Yorkers to come. Here’s to the greatest city in the world.