This classic column was originally published May 23, 1985.
New York City doesn’t have the same kind of boosters other cities have. Residents don’t speak of New York with the same fierce pride that the people of Milwaukee, Dallas, or even Chicago have when they speak of their cities. New Yorkers don’t ask visitors how they like New York because New Yorkers don’t care whether visitors like it or not.
There were 1,459 murders in New York last year, and 88,347 cars were stolen.
The streets are filthy. Below the streets, in the network of subways that crisscross the 12-mile-long island of Manhattan, things are even dirtier.
Even if a visitor decides to take a chance and ride the subway, the odds are he won’t get where he’s going because the signs giving directions are hard to find and poorly written.
The subway cars are covered with graffiti applied by street gangs with spray paint. Buses are crowded, scarce and hot.
A bus ride costs 90 cents in New York and you need exact change. If you want to catch a bus but have nothing but a $5 bill and 85 cents in change, you might as well start walking because you can’t board a bus.
You might actually get to your destination more quickly by walking anyway because it often takes a bus 10 minutes to travel one block.
There are 12,000 licensed cabs in the city, but you can seldom find one when you want it.
One thing no one is bothered much by in New York is the police. They don’t harass visitors the way a Mississippi sheriff or a Wyoming highway patrolman might.
Chances are, you may never even see a New York policeman unless your car is towed away and you have to go to the police pound and retrieve it for $150.
Is there a psychiatrist in the house? I’d like one to tell me why it is I love this city above all others.