Famous New Yorkers

Reminiscencing on their first impression of the city

Tom Wolfe

I arrived in New York City at four in the morning feeling very romantic. I raised my fist – “I’m going to conquer you yet!”– the way Eugène de Rastignas does in Balzac’s Le Père Goriot. I was all alone, so I had breakfast at the Automat across the street from my hotel. All the food was yellow: the eggs, the coffee, even the meat.

Moving to New York City

Adjusting to the fast-paced lifestyle of the city that never sleeps is a test of of character, patience, and confidence.

Within my first month of living here, “normal” daily tasks of New York such as hailing a cab or crossing streets (without checking traffic) had be learned quickly. The key to blending in while learning the ways of the city is to appear as confident as possible. Not an easy task for someone who had never transferred subway trains in a major metropolitan city, and was fearful of getting lost dropped off in the mid of Staten Island.

To help me get over the tough learning curve of The Big Apple was a book about fellow newcomers – My First New York: Early Adventures in the Big City. I drew inspiration from famous people who had braved the city before me. The humor in their adventures and truth in their recollections inspired these illustrations. Plus it gave me something to do, as initially I didn’t know a soul here. (And neither did some of them!)

Padma Lakshmi

I remember landing, and seeing all the big buildings, and being superexcited about this new adventure, and also, of course, being reunited with my mother. She was waiting there to pick me up.
  • New York City has grown by over 1 million people since 1990.

  • There are hundred thousand people coming and going each year. This dynamism is a testament to the City being a magnet for those seeking opportunities, then moving on, only to be replaced.

  • There is a birth in New York City every 4.4 minutes.

  • New York City has more people than 40 of the 50 U.S. states.

  • There are nearly 400,000 more women than men in New York.

  • About 1 in every 38 people living in the United States resides in New York City.

  • Over 200 languages are spoken in New York City.

  • Half of all New Yorkers speak a language other than English at home.

  • Source: nyc.gov

Danny DeVito

Most of the experience that Michael (Douglas) and I had we’ve never been able to talk about. It’s terrible! But I had a rule: If he was coming home with a girl, he had to bring another one too, or he wasn’t allowed in.