New York City guidebook from 1916

“The first characteristic of New York, which impresses the stranger from abroad, and in a less degree from other American cities, is its atmosphere of breathless hast, its pervading sense of life keyed to an abnormal tension.”

“One direct consequence of this unending hurry, which the visitor is quick to feel, is a certain brusqueness and lack of civility as compared with other cities. Not that the great, motley, democratic middle class is deliberately rude to strangers; it simply lacks the time for the little courtesies of life, and grudges two words where one can be made to answer.”

Excerpts from a New York City guidebook from 1916.

(via Kottke)

5 Comments leave a comment below

  1. Sounds like an outsider who wrote it…

  2. So nothing’s changed in a hundred years :-)

    Actually – these are the things I love most about New York. The hast, and the short answers.

  3. This is why I love living in New York–I love the quickness of everything, the no-nonsense, cut-to-the-chase-ness of everything. Why waste someone else’s time with your unformed thought? Think it out, then get it out–quick!


    “Welcome to the New York City Municipal Archives Online Gallery. […] The Online Gallery provides free and open research access to over 800,000 items digitized from the Municipal Archives’ collections, including photographs, maps, motion-pictures and audio recordings.”


  5. “Sounds like an outsider who wrote it…”

    I’m a native New Yorker born in Brooklyn and that description is correct to this day. More importantly, a description that I can see a native New Yorker expressing far more than a visitor would.

    I mention native because there are plenty of people that move to New York and live there a relatively short time and then all of a sudden they think they know the city and its culture.