O. Henry, “The Duel” (1910):
Your opponent is the City. You must do battle with it from the time the ferry-boat lands you on the island until either it is yours or it has conquered you. The battle is to decide whether you shall become a New Yorker or turn the rankest outlander and Philistine. You must be one or the other. You cannot remain neutral.
John Berger, “Keeping a Rendezvous” (1987):
Every city has a sex and an age which have nothing to do with demography. Rome is feminine. So is Odessa. London is a teenager, an urchin, and in this hasn’t changed since the time of Dickens. Paris, I believe, is a man in his twenties in love with an older woman.
To which some droll New Yorker replied: “Albany is an old man in a deli, trying to send back soup.”
Walt Whitman, “Song of the Broad Axe” (1856):
The great city is that which has the greatest men and women. If it be a few ragged huts it is still the greatest city in the whole world.
All yoinked from the most recent Lapham’s Quarterly.
London, Ontario is of course a student with Ugg boots and big sunglasses. (I kid because I love.)