The Quote Garden
 “I dig old books.”
 Est. 1998

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Quotations about Cities

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NOTE:  Some of the quotes on this page were submitted to me by visitors, and not all have been verified for original source or wording. I'm working hard to confirm everything, but in the meantime please be aware of the possibility for errors.  —ღ Terri, March 2021

There are natures that go to the streams of life in great cities as the hart goes to the water brooks.  ~Philip G. Hamerton

All cities are mad:  but the madness is gallant.  All cities are beautiful:  but the beauty is grim.  ~Christopher Morley, Where the Blue Begins

Cities force growth, and make men talkative and entertaining, but they make them artificial.  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

I offer my verses... chiefly to the denizens of our big Mammon-worshipping cities, in the hope that they may help to lighten the burden of "Sordid Wealth" that weighs so heavily on tens of thousands. If they should be the means of leading one here and there with a lighter heart and keener perception into Nature's fair domain—there to gather imperishable treasures from the lovely blossoms that kiss the clear brooks and mountain wells, or that smile up to us from our country lanes and bypaths—I shall have done my little to check the Nature-forgetting tendencies of city life. ~James Rigg, "Preface," Wild Flower Lyrics and Other Poems, 1897

The axis of the earth sticks out visibly through the centre of each and every town or city.  ~Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

Towered cities please us then,
And the busy hum of men.
~John Milton

What is the city but the people? ~William Shakespeare, Coriolanus, c.1607  [III, 1, Sicinius Velutus]

No city should be too large for a man to walk out of in a morning.  ~Cyril Connolly

Clearly, then, the city is not a concrete jungle, it is a human zoo.  ~Desmond Morris, The Human Zoo

Divine Nature gave the fields, human art built the cities.  ~Marcus Terentius Varro, De Re Rustica

"Become corrupt, corrupt, and you will cease to suffer!" This has been the cry of all cities to man... ~Alfred de Musset, The Confession of a Child of the Century/La Confession d'un enfant du siècle, 1836, translated from French by Kendall Warren

The roaring street is hung for miles
With fierce electric fire.
~William Vaughan Moody, In New York

There is hardly one in three of us who live in the cities who is not sick with unused self.  ~Ben Hecht

This City now doth, like a garment, wear
The beauty of the morning; silent, bare,
Ships, towers, domes, theatres and temples lie
Open unto the fields, and to the sky;
All bright and glittering in the smokeless air.
~William Wordsworth

God made the country, and man made the town.  ~William Cowper, The Task, 1785

The Town is merely the Country with its hat on. ~Kenneth Alfred Evelyn Alexander (c.1890–1953), in The New Zealand Railways Magazine, 1930 January 1st  [His entries were always credited "Perpetrated and Illustrated by Ken Alexander." —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]

Town and country, country and town,
Equally excellent sons of a noun...
~Kenneth Alfred Evelyn Alexander (c.1890–1953), in The New Zealand Railways Magazine, 1930 January 1st

I'm not a city person... I love the country, dogs, flowers and nature, and I'm very bored by cement and skyscrapers. ~Audrey Hepburn (1929–1993)

Besides, there is something about society and life in the city that oppresses me, a procedure of obliteration. The air is polluted, the backfire of cars is reminiscent of guns, and the noise is so bad you can't hear properly. ~Audrey Hepburn (1929–1993)

...the poisonous germs and pollutions of the city, its impure air and water, bad sewerage and endless nuisances... ~F. J. Groner, M.D., "Health Hints," 1889

I'm scared of it all, God's truth! so I am;
It's too big and brutal for me.
My nerve's on the raw and I don't give a damn
For all the "hoorah" that I see.
I'm pinned between the subway and overhead train,
Where automobiles swoop down:
Oh, I want to go back to the timber again —
I'm scared of the terrible town.
~Robert W. Service, "I'm Scared of It All," 1912

I watched the bright lights flicker by, so beautiful — the glow, the buildings of downtown peeking out, the city sharp and crisp, all the dirt and age hidden by the night. ~Garth Stein, The Art of Racing in the Rain, 2008  [Bellevue, Medina, Seattle. A little altered. —tg]

A city is a large community where people are lonesome together. ~Herbert Prochnow

On numerous visits to Manhattan, I have found myself poking around the city trying to find a moment of quiet and once located a hint of it in Central Park during a windless, late-night snowfall. There I stood absolutely still in the lemon glow of the city, a sky full of snow. The city still roared from all sides, a thousand noises compressed down to just one. I counted that distant, mild roar as quiet, a welcome relief from the more pressing noises of the daytime city. ~Craig Childs, "Perfect Quiet: Searching for refuge — and, perhaps, health — in a sickeningly loud world," 2009 June 25th, Pacific Standard: The Science of Society

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

High mountains are a feeling, but the hum
Of human cities torture.
~George Gordon, Lord Byron, Childe Harold's Pilgrimage

The city disappears street by street as you enter it. ~Ian Seed

Don't let the city steal your soul. ~Terri Guillemets

To one who has been long in city pent,
'Tis very sweet to look into the fair
And open face of heaven, — to breathe a prayer
Full in the smile of the blue firmament.
~John Keats, Sonnet XIV

Cities are the abyss of the human species. ~Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Émile

In the country the darkness of night is friendly and familiar, but in a city, with its blaze of lights, it is unnatural, hostile and menacing.  It is like a monstrous vulture that hovers, biding its time.  ~Somerset Maugham

In Rome you long for the country; in the country - oh inconstant! - you praise the distant city to the stars.  ~Horace, Satires

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