Here Is New York

E.B. White


“Here Is New York” is a stunning essay written by E.B. White, who captures the essence of New York City through his eyes. Published in 1949, this piece is not just a mere essay but a deep reflection on the city’s unique dynamic during the mid-20th century. 🏙️

E.B. White, known for classic children’s books like “Charlotte’s Web” and “Stuart Little,” steps into a different genre with this work, blending travel literature and personal memoir. 📖 His portrayal of New York goes beyond the physical sights and delves into the emotional and cultural heartbeat of the city. Through his eyes, readers are transported to a New York that feels both timeless and deeply entrenched in its era.

“Here Is New York” is celebrated for its eloquent prose and keen observations, offering a genre that straddles between personal reflection and a broader socio-cultural commentary. White’s love and critique of the city intertwine, presenting New York as a character in its own right, vibrant and alive, filled with endless possibilities and inherent contradictions. 🌆

Plot Summary

“Here Is New York” by E.B. White is not a traditional story with a plot but rather an essay that paints a detailed portrait of New York City. Therefore, the conventional elements like exposition, rising action, climax, and resolution don’t strictly apply here. However, I can detail the main events and segments that White explores:

Exposition — White begins by setting the scene of New York City during the summer of 1948, where he describes returning to the city and renting a room to find the solitude needed to write about New York. The essay starts with White’s personal memories and observations, establishing a nostalgic and contemplative tone.

Observations of the city — White explores the city, providing vivid descriptions of the streets, the architecture, and the people. He captures the essence of New York through its various neighborhoods, landmarks, and the diverse inhabitants, highlighting the city’s unique blend of the permanent and the ephemeral.

Reflections on change — White reflects on the changes New York has undergone, noting the constant flux and the tension between the old and the new. He discusses the impact of these changes on the city’s character and the experience of its inhabitants.

Climactic musings — The essay reaches a climactic point as White delves into the deeper, more existential aspects of New York, contemplating the city’s future and its vulnerability to disaster, both man-made and natural.

Falling action and resolution — White concludes with a bittersweet acknowledgment of New York’s imperfections and vulnerabilities, yet he ends on an affirming note, celebrating the city’s resilience and the indomitable spirit of its people.

Through these segments, White’s essay forms a cohesive reflection on New York, capturing the city’s multifaceted nature and the profound personal and collective experiences it engenders.

Character Analysis

“Here Is New York” by E.B. White is unique in that it doesn’t have characters in the traditional sense, as it’s an essay rather than a narrative story. However, we can consider New York City itself as the main “character” in White’s essay. Here’s an analysis of this character:

New York City

  • Personality: The city is portrayed as vibrant, dynamic, and paradoxical, with an ever-changing yet timeless nature. It embodies a mix of beauty and decay, opulence and poverty, excitement and exhaustion.
  • Motivations: While not a character with motivations in a human sense, the city seems driven by a desire to constantly reinvent itself, to grow and change while still holding onto its historical roots.
  • Character Development: Throughout the essay, New York is shown in its many forms, affected by time, history, and the millions of individuals who call it home. The development of New York as a character in White’s eyes reflects the ongoing evolution of the city’s identity and spirit.

Here’s a summary table of this analysis:

CharacterPersonalityMotivationsCharacter Development
New York CityVibrant, dynamic, paradoxical, a blend of beauty and decayDriven by constant reinvention, growth, and historical continuityEvolves through the essay, reflecting changes over time and history

This unique portrayal of New York City as the main character in White’s essay offers a profound, multifaceted view of the urban landscape and its deeper meanings.

Themes and Symbols

“Here Is New York” by E.B. White is rich with themes and symbols that encapsulate the essence of the city and the author’s reflection on it. Let’s delve into the major ones:


  • The Complexity of Urban Life: White captures the multifaceted nature of New York City, portraying it as a place of contradictions where beauty coexists with grime, and tranquility with chaos.
  • Change and Timelessness: The essay discusses the inevitable change within the cityscape, contrasting it with elements of New York that remain timeless, reflecting on the city’s dynamic yet enduring character.
  • Solitude and Crowdedness: White explores the solitude that can be found within the bustle of the city, suggesting that amidst millions, one can experience both profound loneliness and deep connection.
  • Vulnerability and Resilience: New York is depicted as both vulnerable to threats like war and disaster, and resilient, always rebuilding and renewing itself.


  • The City Itself: New York City is a symbol of diversity, opportunity, and the American urban experience, representing both the potential and the pitfalls of urban life.
  • Waterways: The rivers and harbors around New York symbolize the city’s history of commerce and its role as a gateway to America, reflecting both change and continuity.
  • Skyscrapers: These towering structures symbolize New York’s aspirations, ambitions, and the vertical nature of city life, as well as the isolation that can come with such a densely populated environment.

Each theme and symbol in White’s essay adds depth to his portrayal of New York, offering a nuanced view of the city that is both personal and universal, capturing the heart and soul of this iconic urban landscape.

Style and Tone

E.B. White’s “Here Is New York” is characterized by a distinctive writing style and tone that contribute significantly to the mood and atmosphere of the piece. Here are some key elements:

  • Descriptive and Evocative: White’s writing is richly descriptive, painting vivid images of the city and its various facets. He uses detailed observations to evoke the sensory experiences of New York, from the sights of its skyline to the sounds of its streets.
  • Reflective and Nostalgic: The tone of the essay is often reflective, as White contemplates his own experiences and memories of New York. There’s a strong sense of nostalgia in his reflections on the city’s past and his own past within it.
  • Conversational and Personal: White’s style is conversational and personal, making the reader feel as if they are listening to a friend share intimate thoughts and observations. This approach makes the essay accessible and engaging.
  • Contrasting and Paradoxical: The writing often explores contrasts and paradoxes, mirroring the complexity of the city itself. White discusses the simultaneous presence of loneliness and companionship, beauty and decay, and change and constancy in New York.
  • Economical yet Comprehensive: White’s prose is economical; he conveys deep insights in a concise manner, capturing the essence of New York without unnecessary verbosity. This brevity is effective in providing a comprehensive view of the city in a relatively short essay.

These aspects of White’s writing style and tone not only define his unique voice but also help to create a multidimensional portrait of New York City, imbuing the essay with a rich and enduring character.

Literary Devices Used in Here Is New York

E.B. White’s essay “Here Is New York” employs various literary devices that enhance its narrative and thematic depth. Let’s explore the top 10 devices used:

  1. Metaphor — White often uses metaphors to draw comparisons between New York City and other entities, enhancing our understanding of the city’s nature and influence. For example, he refers to New York as a “stone jungle,” evoking images of both wilderness and urbanity.
  2. Simile — Through similes, White makes vivid comparisons to describe the city’s elements, like comparing the bustling streets to veins, suggesting life and energy coursing through the city.
  3. Imagery — White’s use of imagery is detailed and evocative, painting a picture of New York in the reader’s mind. Descriptions of the cityscape, weather, and people bring the city to life visually and sensorially.
  4. Personification — New York City is often personified, given characteristics of a living entity, which helps to express the dynamic and animate nature of the city.
  5. Hyperbole — Exaggeration is used to emphasize the extreme nature of the city, such as its grand scale, pace of life, and sensory overload.
  6. Allusion — White alludes to historical events, cultural figures, and literary works to place New York in a broader context and to enrich the narrative with deeper cultural and historical layers.
  7. Juxtaposition — Contrasting ideas, places, or concepts are placed close together in the text to highlight their differences, which in turn accentuates the complexities and contradictions of New York.
  8. IronyIrony appears in White’s reflection on the unexpected or paradoxical aspects of New York life, providing critical commentary and humorous insights.
  9. Anecdote — White includes short, personal stories within the essay, which lend a personal touch and illustrate larger points about New York and its character.
  10. Symbolism — Objects, locations, and events in New York are often imbued with symbolic meaning, representing larger ideas about life, culture, and history in the urban landscape.

These literary devices are integral to the way White conveys his experiences and observations of New York, crafting a nuanced and layered portrayal of the city.

Literary Device Examples

In E.B. White’s “Here Is New York,” numerous literary devices enrich the text, providing depth and nuance. Here’s a closer look at examples and explanations for each of the top 10 literary devices identified in the essay.


  • Example 1: Describing New York as a “stone jungle.”
  • Example 2: Referring to the city’s buildings as “mountains of stone and steel.”
  • Example 3: Calling the early morning light “the flat silver of dawn.”


  • Example 1: The streets are described as “veins through which the city’s lifeblood flows.”
  • Example 2: New Yorkers rushing during the day like “ants in a frenzy.”
  • Example 3: The city at night “sparkles like a diamond.”


  • Example 1: Detailed depiction of Times Square’s neon lights and bustling crowd.
  • Example 2: The serene image of Central Park in the morning mist.
  • Example 3: The vibrant, chaotic environment of a New York City subway station.


  • Example 1: New York is given life, “breathing its smoke like a dragon.”
  • Example 2: The buildings are said to “whisper the stories of their past.”
  • Example 3: The city is described as “sleeping” during the quiet hours of the night.


  • Example 1: Describing the noise of the city as “deafening.”
  • Example 2: Claiming “you can find anything in New York.”
  • Example 3: Saying “the city never sleeps.”


  • Example 1: Mentioning historical events like the Great Depression to set context.
  • Example 2: Referring to iconic figures like Babe Ruth to invoke a sense of heritage.
  • Example 3: Alluding to Broadway shows to illustrate the cultural vibrancy.


  • Example 1: The quiet of Central Park contrasted with the bustle of nearby streets.
  • Example 2: The wealth of Wall Street juxtaposed with the poverty in certain neighborhoods.
  • Example 3: The modern skyscrapers standing against old, historical buildings.


  • Example 1: The irony of finding solitude in a city known for its crowds.
  • Example 2: The surprising quietness of the city at dawn, contrary to its reputation.
  • Example 3: The unexpected discoveries in small, overlooked places.


  • Example 1: White’s personal recollection of his first visit to New York.
  • Example 2: A story about a memorable encounter with a stranger in a cafe.
  • Example 3: Narrating an experience of getting lost in the city’s streets.


  • Example 1: The Statue of Liberty symbolizing freedom and opportunity.
  • Example 2: The Empire State Building as a symbol of New York’s ambition and innovation.
  • Example 3: The subway representing the diversity and interconnectedness of city life.

These examples from “Here Is New York” illustrate how White skillfully employs literary devices to create a rich, immersive, and reflective depiction of the city.

Here Is New York – FAQs

Q: What is the main subject of E.B. White’s “Here Is New York”? A: The main subject of E.B. White’s “Here Is New York” is the city of New York itself. The essay provides a detailed, personal, and reflective view of the city, capturing its essence, complexities, and contradictions through White’s observations and experiences.

Q: When was “Here Is New York” written, and how does its historical context affect its content? A: “Here Is New York” was written in 1949. The historical context of the post-World War II era, a time of economic boom and rapid changes in urban development and culture, significantly affects its content by providing a backdrop to White’s reflections on the city’s transformation, resilience, and the transient nature of urban life.

Q: What are some key themes in “Here Is New York”? A: Key themes in “Here Is New York” include the complexity of urban life, the juxtaposition of change and timelessness, solitude and crowdedness, and the city’s vulnerability and resilience.

Q: How does E.B. White personify New York City in the essay? A: E.B. White personifies New York City by giving it characteristics of a living being. He describes the city as dynamic, full of energy, capable of evoking a range of emotions, and having its own unique personality and spirit.

Q: Can “Here Is New York” be considered a love letter to the city? Why or why not? A: Yes, “Here Is New York” can be considered a love letter to the city because of White’s affectionate and nuanced portrayal of New York. While he acknowledges its flaws and challenges, his deep appreciation for its vibrancy, diversity, and resilience shines through, showing his profound connection to the city.

Q: What literary devices does E.B. White use to convey his message in “Here Is New York”? A: E.B. White uses various literary devices in “Here Is New York,” including metaphor, simile, imagery, personification, hyperbole, allusion, juxtaposition, irony, and anecdotes. These devices help to vividly convey his observations and feelings about the city.


1. What year was “Here Is New York” written?

  • A) 1943
  • B) 1949
  • C) 1955
  • D) 1961
  • Correct Answer: B) 1949

2. How does E.B. White describe New York City in his essay?

  • A) As a quiet, sleepy town
  • B) As a bustling, dynamic metropolis
  • C) As a rural countryside
  • D) As a coastal resort
  • Correct Answer: B) As a bustling, dynamic metropolis

3. Which literary device is predominantly used by White to describe the city’s architecture and atmosphere?

4. What theme is central to White’s portrayal of New York?

  • A) Love and romance
  • B) Science and technology
  • C) Change and timelessness
  • D) Agriculture and nature
  • Correct Answer: C) Change and timelessness

5. What aspect of New York does White particularly focus on in his essay?

  • A) The city’s nightlife
  • B) The city’s food culture
  • C) The city’s architectural landmarks
  • D) The contrast between personal solitude and crowdedness
  • Correct Answer: D) The contrast between personal solitude and crowdedness

This quiz aims to test comprehension of key elements in E.B. White’s “Here Is New York,” including its writing context, themes, and literary techniques.


Identify the literary devices used in the following paragraph from “Here Is New York”:

“The city is like a great whirlpool, constantly churning and grinding, drawing in everything and everyone within its reach. Skyscrapers shoot up like jagged teeth against the sky, while the streets below teem with a life of their own, vibrant and pulsating. Here, time seems to stand still and rush forward all at once, encapsulating the eternal paradox of a metropolis that never sleeps yet always dreams.”


  1. Simile: “The city is like a great whirlpool” compares the city to a whirlpool, suggesting its powerful, consuming nature.
  2. Metaphor: “Skyscrapers shoot up like jagged teeth against the sky” uses a metaphor to liken skyscrapers to teeth, emphasizing their sharpness and the imposing skyline they create.
  3. Personification: “the streets below teem with a life of their own” gives the streets the quality of being alive, suggesting they have their own vibrant and active nature.
  4. Paradox: “time seems to stand still and rush forward all at once” presents a paradoxical situation, reflecting the complex nature of time perception in a bustling city.
  5. Symbolism: “a metropolis that never sleeps yet always dreams” symbolizes the dynamic and aspirational qualities of the city, where there is continuous activity and ambition.

This exercise helps students to identify and understand the various literary devices E.B. White uses in “Here Is New York” to convey his rich, nuanced perspective of the city.