…the social crises that cities face are remarkably consistent, country to country and town to town. Very little that is going on in New York, from plutocratic excess to outlying gentrification, is not also going on, with different emphases and origins, in London: the same tales of people who drink wine and lattes buying the property of those who drink whiskey and beer. At the same time, cities are local. Saying that Manhattan and central London share the same problems is like saying that a man dying of drink in London is like one doing the same in Manhattan. It’s true, but all the local conditions—what he’s drinking, where he drinks it, who takes him home, and what kind of home he goes to—are so different that a story about the drunk in either place becomes a story about the place. Cities are at once the most cosmopolitan and the most particular of subjects; they require, and rarely receive, a view sufficiently wide-eyed as to become effectively double.
Adam Gopnik, “Naked Cities”, The New Yorker (5 October 2015), 81.