Great cities must ever be centers of light and darkness, the home of the best and the worst of our race, holding within themselves the highest talent for good and evil.

—Matthew Hale Smith, 1868

Any city, however small, is in fact divided into two, one the city of the poor, the other of the rich; these are at war with one another.

—Plato, c. 378 BC

Does anybody really want to attend to cities other than to flee, fleece, privatize, butcher, or decimate them?

—Jane Holtz Kay, 1992

There is a city in which you find everything you desire—handsome people, pleasures, ornaments of every kind—all that the natural person craves. However, you cannot find a single wise person there.

—Rumi, c. 1250

Just as language no longer has anything in common with the thing it names, so the movements of most of the people who live in cities have lost their connection with the earth; they hang, as it were, in the air, hover in all directions, and find no place where they can settle.

—Rainer Maria Rilke, 1903

What is the city but the people?

—William Shakespeare, 1608

By the blessing of the upright the city is exalted, but it is overthrown by the mouth of the wicked.

—Book of Proverbs, c. 350 BC

One need merely visit the marketplace and the graveyard to determine whether a city is in both physical and metaphysical order.

—Ernst Jünger, 1977

Do you suppose that will change the sense of the morals, the fact that we can’t use morals as a means of judging the city because we couldn’t stand it? And that we’re changing our whole moral system to suit the fact that we’re living in a ridiculous way?

—Philip Johnson, 1965

Cities are the abyss of the human species.

—Jean-Jacques Rousseau, 1762

Divine nature gave the fields; human art built the cities.

—Marcus Terentius Varro, c. 70 BC

The more men are massed together, the more corrupt they become. Disease and vice are the sure results of overcrowded cities.

—Jean-Jacques Rousseau, 1762

My ideas are clear. My orders are precise. Within five years, Rome must appear marvelous to all the people of the world—vast, orderly, powerful, as in the time of the empire of Augustus.

—Benito Mussolini, 1929

Towns oftener swamp one than carry one out onto the big ocean of life.

—D.H. Lawrence, 1908

I have never felt salvation in nature. I love cities above all.

—Michelangelo Antonioni, 1967

Often an entire city has suffered because of an evil man.

—Hesiod, c. 700 BC

Today’s city is the most vulnerable social structure ever conceived by man.

—Martin Oppenheimer, 1969

The first requisite to happiness is that a man be born in a famous city.

—Euripides, c. 415 BC

A large city cannot be experientially known; its life is too manifold for any individual to be able to participate in it.

—Aldous Huxley, 1934

The life of the city never lets you go, nor do you ever want it to.

—Wallace Stevens, 1952

The seeds of civilization are in every culture, but it is city life that brings them to fruition.

—Susanne K. Langer, 1962

It is men who make a city, not walls or ships.

—Thucydides, 410 BC

There is no solitude in the world like that of the big city.

—Kathleen Norris, 1931

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.

—John Berger, 1987

I even gave up, for a while, stopping by the window of the room to look out at the lights and deep, illuminated streets. That’s a form of dying, that losing contact with the city like that.

—Philip K. Dick, 1972

We must consider that we shall be a city upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us, so that if we deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken, and so cause Him to withdraw His present help from us, we shall be made a story and a byword through the world.

—John Winthrop, 1630

A hick town is one where there is no place to go where you shouldn’t go.

—Alexander Woollcott, c. 1935

In Washington, the first thing people tell you is what their job is. In Los Angeles you learn their star sign. In Houston you’re told how rich they are. And in New York they tell you what their rent is.

—Simon Hoggart, 1990

The country only has charms for those not obliged to stay there. 

—Édouard Manet, c. 1860

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

—Cyril Connolly, 1944

If the present be compared with the remote past, it is easily seen that in all cities and in all peoples there are the same desires and the same passions as there always were.

—Niccolò Machiavelli, c. 1513

The screech and mechanical uproar of the big city turns the citified heads, fills citified ears—as the song of birds, wind in the trees, animal cries, or as the voices and songs of his loved ones once filled his heart. He is sidewalk happy.

—Frank Lloyd Wright, 1958