Brendan Gill

On Punctuality:
New Yorkers are a notoriously tardy people and I, coming down from New England, always intended to be, and was, morbidly punctual, losing hours and even weeks and months of my life by being punctual.

On Energy:
You feel, in New York City, the energy coming up out of the sidewalks, you know that you are in the midst of something tremendous, and if something tremendous hasn't yet happened, it's just about to happen.

On The Grid Plan:
We would have been a very romantic city if we hadn't chosen the grid plan. When they laid out the plan in 1811 the assumption was that there would be almost no traffic up and down this little Manhattan Island -- 15 miles up and down and very narrow -- but that all the traffic would be water borne between the rivers, therefore have lots of side streets for the traffic going back and forth from river to river, and just have a handful of avenues going north and south since nobody would ever bother to use them.

On Making It:
Nobody wanted to be an artist who wasn't famous, or a writer who wasn't famous. So the critical mass in New York makes it possible for everybody to have an opportunity on practically every level you can name. I was talking to a young woman this morning, and she said she was leaving New York and going to Vail. Vail! How in the world could a young woman commit suicide by going to Vail when she'd gotten to New York?

On Donald Trump:
Grand Central now looks better than it has ever looked in my lifetime, and I'm very optimistic about that really becoming what the original designers had intended it to be. And I see that even Donald Trump's hotel is going to get another redoing. Every so often I find myself, to my horror, forgiving Donald Trump. Ah! what a strange emotion that is.

On The Effect of Architecture:
When our neo-Renaissance architecture began, we were really fulfilling an ambition which began with the Founding Fathers and then had a slight renaissance with McKim, Mead, and White when they went through New England . . . and began making drawings of colonial houses of the 18th century. They introduced a neo-colonial period which didn't last very long before it merged into, at last, the neo-Renaissance kind of thing. But we were looking back when we decided to do this, and we found that it was a very convenient form of public architecture because it allowed for large open spaces, for grandeur, for a sense of pride. So we had building after building in which it was critical for a city like ours -- the greatest city in the country, but also the city which had to turn immigrants into Americans overnight, as fast as we could -- to give people not only a sense of awe -- what have they come to from that little Sicilian hill town or miserable little Irish village somewhere -- but for them to walk in and think this was theirs. They went into these lobbies, they went into these great pillared buildings, and it was thrilling for them, and something that they could identify with.

Brendan Gill
(1914-1997) An author and critic, Gill wrote for the NEW YORKER for more than 60 years. A champion of architectural preservation and other visual arts, he chaired the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and authored 15 books, including HERE AT THE NEW YORKER (1975, Random House).