City Limits Analysis

Great Essays
A life in New York City is a vastly personal experience that is famous for being unlike a life in any other metropolis. “City Limits” by Colson Whitehead explores the idea that everyone who goes to and lives in New York has their own, unique version of the city. From the moment an individual steps foot in the city, she is “building [her] private New York,” (Whitehead 1). My personal New York —the food stands, pharmacies, and avenues I would come to call home—formed when I moved to Manhattan to attend New York University.
When I envisioned what it would be like to live in New York City, I always pictured living around Washington Square Park because that’s where NYU is centered. After being accepted to the university, I spent countless hours
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The park is encircled by popular chains such as Starbucks, Forever 21, and Barnes & Noble. The streets lining it are in constant disarray as tourists flood them from morning until night. Union Square is a large mix of individuals who are dressed in a suit and tie, lugging a backpack full of books, or clutching a camera to photograph the park before climbing back onto the tour bus. Though this mayhem is true of the streets directly around Union Square, only a block away in any direction the chaotic atmosphere is calmer. The crowds are smaller and stores like the Strand Bookstore and Halloween Adventure offer endless, interesting finds. Within the Union Square neighborhood, my introverted mindset was able to be comforted by the familiar shops I was used to seeing at home, but my desire to find new places and escape the crowds was easily met with the area’s diverse nature. My attitude toward the city was one of optimism as the area I lived in was better than I had expected it to be. In Joan Acocella’s “My Kind of Town: New York,” she discusses the attitudes of new New Yorkers, such as myself, toward the city. Acocella asserts that when asking people what they miss about home, if they reply that they miss “a slower pace of life, a café where they could sit around and talk to friends, a street where they could play kickball without getting run over,” then they will not survive in the city for long (Acocella 1). In moving to New York, my family continually worried that I would miss these kinds of things because these were settings that my family could not live without. As I built my private city and came to view it as my home, Acocella’s words took on another meaning to me. I did not miss “a slower pace of life” because I was able to construct my personal New York around the

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