The year is 1906. New York is easily the most impressive city in the New World. But how does it compare to Paris? The author answers that question with what is arguably the most astute assessment of New York City ever offered -- its sweep is as big as the city itself, and the strengths and weaknesses of the metropolis are set forth in language that can only intrigue and delight the contemporary reader.

A description of a city offered more than 100 years ago is enjoyable partly because one can marvel at our changed perspective. At one point, for example, the author laments that "Fifth Avenue below the Park has lost its restful, if sombre, brown-stone unity by its unconditional surrender to retail trade." On the whole, however, this antique article is striking for its prescience in seeing what New York City has become.

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