People are, of course, frightened by serious crime. But people are also scared by the behavior of unpredictable and obstreperous people--youths, drunks, the mentally ill, hustlers, prostitutes, and panhandlers. We have only recently understood the depth and pervasiveness of this fear. Surveys from throughout the United States have shown that people will go to extraordinary lengths to avoid disorder. Elderly persons cross the street to avoid groups of youths, or even a single loitering teen. Women avoid places, including subways, in which drunks or youths hang out. Citizens believe the most dangerous spots are not the places where crime is the highest, but rather where disorder is concentrated: places like the subway.

Real crime rates are lower underground than above, but citizens are more apprehensive in the subway than on streets. This fear matters, to the citizens and to the city. People frightened of crime are already victims. They isolate themselves behind multiple locks; they forswear walks in the evening and nights on the town; they avoid public parks, public transportation, and other public amenities; finally they desert cities entirely, including this city.

-- George Kelling

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

-- Kathleen Norris

Paris, a city of gaiety and pleasures, where four-fifths of the inhabitants die of grief.

-- Sebastien-Roch Nicolas De Chamfort

One belongs to New York instantly. One belongs to it as much in five minutes as in five years.

-- Thomas Wolfe

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