` Woody Allen's Manhattan - The Opening Sequence


  Woody Allen's MANHATTAN (1979; United Artists) - The Opening Sequence - approximately 60 shots.

The film opens with a montage of images of Manhattan and other parts of New York City accompanied by Gerorge Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue," with Isaac Davis (Woody Allen) narrating drafts of an introduction to a book about a man who loves the city. (Wikipedia)

As Isaac says, "Chapter 1. He adored New York City. He idolized it all out of proportion...no, make that: he - he romanticized it all out of proportion. Yeah." (see the full text at the end of the entry)

According to Allen, the idea for Manhattan originated from his love of Gershwin's music. He was listening to one of the composer's albums of overtures and thought, "this would be a beautiful thing to make ... a movie in black and white ... a romantic movie."

The opening has about 60 beautifully composed shots in it showing Manhattan in all it's glamour - building to a fireworks display over Central Park. It's Woody's celebration to his hometown.

The sequence goes by so fast, it's hard to see everything in the frame. In the photos below, you can click on the photos to enlarge them and see the little odds and ends that you might have missed as captured by Woody and his cinematographer, Gordon Willis.





1) This picture goes from the two UN Plaza towers (866 UN Plaza at 1st and East 48th) at left, to River House 435 East 52nd east of 1st avenue at right; probably taken from the middle of the Queensboro Bridge (59th Street)).

The Empire State Building is in the far back left. The Chrysler Building is in the back, right.

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2) This is the United Nations taken the 59th Street Bridge. The buildings on the right are same ones on on the left in picture #1. They are the two UN Plaza Towers east of 1st and 48th.



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3) The brick building in the center is 2 Sutton Place, between E. 56th and East 57th. This is probably taken from near the SIlvercup Studios in Long Island CIty, or Roosevelt Island, south of the bridge.



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4) The building on the right with the "ball" on it is in TImes Square at 1501 7th Ave between W43rd and W44th. It is known as the Paramount Building. It has the Hard Rock Cafe in its base in what was formerly the Paramount Theater where Frank Sinatra became famous singing to "bobby-soxers" in the early 1940's.

The Building with the blinking MANHATTAN sign on it was the Hotel Lincoln; later, in the 1980's, it was the Milford Plaza Hotel; now is the the Row Hotel. It is at 700 8th Ave between W44th and W45th.

I think Woody Allen used special effects to change the sign from Milford Plaza to Manhattan, as it serves to tell the title the movie within the film.

The photo was taken along West 44th Street possibily from 10th or 11th Avenue, looking east



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5) We are looking west from the intersection of West 22nd St. and 10th Avenue, with the high line overhead. (Google Maps to 500 West 22nd Street)

This location was likely taken at the same time as the location for the art-moderne Empire Diner, which is coming up, as, if the camera spuns around, we would see the Empire Diner at the northeast corner of 22nd and 10th Avenue.



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6) The white building is the back left is 35 Sutton Place which is at the intersection of 59th Street. We also see the west end of the Queensboro Bridge (the Ed Koch Bridge), made famous in the 1960's by Simon and Garfunkel in "The 59th Street Bridge Song" ("Feelin' Groovy").

The photo was possibly taken from a crane on the southern section of Roosevelt Island at the same time as some of the earler shots of Sutton Place buildings .



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7) This is the art-moderne Empire Diner (built 1946) located at the northest corner of 22nd Street and 10th Avenue in Chelsea. (Google Maps to 210 Tenth Avenue.)

It's been seen in many movies and tv shows including the films Home Alone 2, Men in Black 2 and Godspell. The cover of Tom Wait's album "Asylum Years" is a picture of the diner.



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8) This is a picture looking south down Park Avenue from East 68th Street. The white building at the right is 650 Park Avenue at East 67th Street. The second brick building down on the left is the massive Park Avenue Armory (643 Park Avenue) bordered by East 66th and East 67th Streets and Park Avenue and Madison Avenue.

The Building at the end of Park Avenue is the Hemsley Building (230 Park Avenue between East 45th and East 46th) and the taller building hovering above it is the MetLife building, formerly the Pan Am Building, that used to have a heliport on top of it, located at 200 Park Avenue between East 43rd and East 45th.



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9) The shot is from the intersection of Gansevoort Street and West Street in the Meatpacking District, looking south. The World Trade Center buildings are in the distant right. The brick building just to the left of the center is the Jane Hotel at Jane Steet.

The building with the set of double windows going up the side is the Bell Labs Building on West Street between Bethume and Bank Streets. On the right, just beyond the truck you can see what remains of the old West Side highway which was in the process of being taken down.



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10) In this shot the camera is front of a fruit and vegetable stand at approximately 533 Ninth Avenue between 39th and 40th Street on the west side pointing south.

You can see a sign for the entrance to the Holland Tunnell in the background. The white building with the balcony at left is at the northeast corner of 39th and Ninth Ave. The single window above the bus is at the southeast corner of 38th and Ninth Ave.



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11) This shot is in the Garment District, taken looking south down 7th Avenue from 37th Street. In the back right you can see a sign for DISCOMAT. The record store was at 474 7th Avenue, midblock, between 35th and 36th on the west side.

On the extreme left you can see, at the corner, a shoe store window. That store was in a larger building called 499 7th Ave. at the corner of 37th.

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12) The building at right looks like what is called a "back house," a small apartment building buit in the backyard spaces of two other buildings. There are several in Greenwich Village becuse of the triangular shape of some of the blocks. But they are in many other places around Manhattan too. I'm not sure where this is.



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13) This shot is taken from First Avenue and 59th Street looking west over the 59th Street Bridge, now known as the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge. In the top left you can see one of the tram cars that go back and forth to Roosevelt Island. Simon and Garfunkel had a famous song called "The 59th Street Bridge Song" where they were "looking for fun and feeling groovy!"



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14) This shot is taken in Sheridan Square in Greenwich Village at the intersection of Christorpher Street and 7th Avenue South. It would have been taken during the afterparty of the Gay Pride parade when many of the celebrants converge on Christopher Street, the traditional center of New York's LGBTQ community, and the site of the Stonewall uprising of 1969.



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15) The flagship Henry Bendel store was for many years located at 712 FIfth Avenue between 55th and 56th Street on the west side of the street. This shot is looking south.



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16) The men are working at the southwest corner of Park Avenue at East 60th Street. The shot is looking northeast. The building with the horizontal white stripes in the center is 535 Park Avenue, at the northeast corner of East 61st Street.



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17) This is the building next to the Staten Island Ferry at the southern end of Manhattan. It is presently where the ferry to Governor's Island comes and goes. It is called the Battery Maritime Building Slip 5 and is directly east of the Whitehall Building which is where the Staten Island Ferry presently comes and goes.



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18) We are standing at 5th and 59th Street looking north at the intersection of 5th Avenue and 60th Street. The southeast entrance to Central Park is off to the left. The Strand Bookstore book stalls are to the left of the three people. The awning for ther Pierre Hotel can be seen at far right.



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19) This is Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village. This was taken from inside the park looking northeast, with the Washington Square Arch at left and the rowhouses of Washington Square North in the center. The Fountain is at bottom right.



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20) This was taken on Orchard Street in the Lower East Side. It was taken near #130 Orchard which is on the sign at left. You can partially see the sign for Jules Harvey Shoes at #132. This puts the shot between Delancey and Rivington Street. For most of the last century the Orchard Street was filled with Orthodox Jewish garment and home good sellers and was a popular place for bargain hunters to shop on Sundays.



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21) This is a tugboat with the name McAllister Towing on it. It was taken from near the Staten Island Ferry at the base of Manhattan looking across he river to Brooklyn. That would be Brooklyn Heights across the river, with the tallest building being the St. George Tower.



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22) This picture of the fish store is still a mystery. In the left mirror you can read (backwards) the words "Twin Donut." But using 1968 White and Yellow Page phone books from the library, I haven't been able to find a Twin Donut next to a fish store yet.



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23) The private school kids are coming out of a mansion at 4 East 72nd Street, just east of 5th Avenue on the Upper East Side. I don't think this was actually a school but just made to look like one.

You'll notice that to the left and right of the door are two rectangular architectural elements of the facade with squiggly lines on them. These are called "whorls." While flipping through a book of Upper East Side buildings, I recognized the whorls, which are not found on many buildings.



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24) Here's another I have not been able to locate yet. The clues are the public basketball court and the large church in the left background. There are about 100 public basketball courts in Manhattan, so it will just take time to go to each and spin around in Google Street views to locate he church. . . .if it's still there.



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25) This shot is from the east side of Fifth Avenue and 60th Street, looking west. The tall building in the back was the GM building on Columbus Circle at Central Park West..



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26) These women are standing on the west side of 9th Avenue at about 41st Street. The view is looking north. In the far right frame in the back you can see a large awning with the name Washington Meat Market on it. That was at 9th Ave and 42nd Street according to a photo of the inside of the shop on Getty Images.



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27) The Peter Pan Cleaners in this photo was located at 338 Columbus Avenue. That would be the northwest corner at 76th street. The shot is looking south. The two buildings on the left are two blocks down at Columbus and 74th Street on the east side of Columbus.



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28) This is another shot of the building next to the Staten Island Ferry building where the ferry now go es to Governor's Island (see picture #17). The building is called Battery Maritime Building Slip 5 and has three large opening for ferries in it.. From the harbor, it is the old fashioned building to the right of the more modern Staten Island Ferry building. This particular ferry was called the John F. Kennedy and you can see the letters for JFK on the boat.



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29) The awning above the man's head reads "944" for 944 Fifth Avenue. That means we are on the southeast corner of 5th and East 75th Street looking north,



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30) This is a shot of Herald Square - the intersection of 34th Street, 6th avenue and Broadway. We are looking northwest, up Broadway.. Macy's is the big white building to the left.



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31) This looks like it was taken where the Bowery intersects Houston Street on the Lower East Side, but I don't have the exact location for this yet. When the truck leaves the frame in the film clip, you can see a store with a sign that reads "Joe's Buy and Sell - BRC." The BRC stands for "Bowery Residents Committee." The Bowery was for a long time Manhattan's "skid row," but is now experiencing rapid gentrification.



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32) For a long time I thought the awning on this read 968, but the numbers are actually 268 and the awning of a building at 268 West End Avenue between 72nd Street and 73rd Street on Upper West Side. In the picture, we are looking south. The condos with the large balconies in the background are part of the Lincoln Towers Apartment at about 68th Street, right where they filmed much of the intro scene of the original West Side Story.



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33) This is the front entrance fo the Parke-Bernet art auction galleries on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. It is located at 980 Madison Avenue between East 76th Street and East 77th Street, across from the Carlyle Hotel.



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34) This is taken on the spiral ramp inside the Guggenheim Museum on the Upper East Side of Manhattan at Fifth Avenue between East 78th and East 88th Streets.



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35) This was the front of the Gucci Store at the northeast corner of Fifth Avenue and 54th Street in midtown, located at 689 Fifth Avenue. The store now has a different occupant.



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36) We are looking at the Plaza Hotel. The cameraman would be standing on the northwest corner of 59th and 5th Avenue near the General William Tecumseh Sherman statue.



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37) This is taken from the same place - 59th and 5th but looking up at the top of the Plaza Hotel. In the back is the large building called 9 West 57th.



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38) The tall building at right with the GM logo on top was the General Motors building located at 59th and 8th on the north side of Columbus Circle. The building had the facade removed and covered with glass and is now a hotel.

The shot is taken from the west side of Broadway and 63rd Street near Lincoln Center looking down Broadway. The angled buildings are apartments stretching along the east side of Broadway from 62nd to 63rd Streets..

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39) These buildings are located along 6th Avenue (Avenue of the Americas) from 47th to 52nd street just west of Rockefeller Center. The view is looking south. The buildings in the foreground at far left and far right are on the south side of 52nd Street on 6th Ave.



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40) This shot, which I have brightened up a lot, was most likely taken from Woody's rooftop apartment on at 930 Fifth Avenue at 74th Street overlooking Central Park.

The sun is setting in back of the old GM building on Columbus Circle (59th and 8th). The building all to the left of that run along Central Park South.

Woody owned a two-story penthouse apartment on the top floor (20th floor) of 930 Fifth Avenue for about 35 years from about 1970 to 2000. Kate Kelly in The Observer magazine described Woody's apartment when it went up for sale: "The 4,000-square-foot space has only one bedroom, a master suite on the upper floor. There's also a television room, living room, dining room, library, and 3,500-square-foot terrace."



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41) Another shot, probably taken from Woody's rooftop at 5th and 74th street looking west across Central Park. I have lightened the shot. The tall building in the center with the three towers is the Beresford - a famous apartment building where Jerry Seinfeld lives. It's located at 211 Central Park West at 81st Street. the long building to its left is the Museum of Natural History.



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42) Another rooftop shot, probably taken from Woody's apartment at 74th and Fifth. I have lightened it. This would be looking east over the Upper East side. The first tall building from the left is 778 Park Avenue and 73rd street, 2 blocks from Woody's apartment. (THis view matches up very closely with the view behind Woody on his deck in a picture at the end of the entry below.)



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43) This would be looking across the park probably from Woody's apartment at 74th and Fifth. The tall building with the twin towers is the San Remo apartment building on Central Park West between 74th and 75th. Two buildings to the left of it is the Dakota at Central Park West and 72nd Street where John Lennon lived.

Right in the center of the picture surrounded by snow is the famous Bow Bridge that goes across The Lake in Central Park. The buildings at the bottom right make up the Central Park Boathouse at the east end of The Lake.



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In Woody Allen's autobiography APROPOS OF NOTHING (Arcade, 2020)(p.202) he writes: "In thinking back on Manhattan, I have to say much of it was good luck . . .During the filming of that movie, we heard New York was going to have one of the most spectacular fireworks shows ever that very night. We dropped everything, ran to a friend's apartment in the Beresford, and prepared. Pushing our luck, we captured amazing footage that gave us the breathtaking opening of Manhattan. . . . "Also, by sheer luck while the Philharmonic was recording he Gershwin ; guys and women in heavy wool sweaters and galoshes were being conducted in the empty Philharmonic Hall by Zubin Mehta, there was a blizzard in he city. we quickly sent our camera operator up to my penthouse where he smuggled his film camera past the doorman and elevator operators (shooting was not allowed in the building) and from my terrace, got the most gorgeous footage of Manhattan blanketed in white. Pure chance in both cases, but I always felt blessed by the breaks that forever seemed to fall in place for me.

Each year, the opening ceremonies of the new York City Marathon has a fireworks display in Central Park.


44) This is another shot probably taken from Woody's terrace. The building with the three towers at left is the Beresford - 211 Central Park West at 81st St. The tall bulding with the two towers to the right is the El Dorado at 300 Central Park West at 90th Street.



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45) Another from Woody's roof at Fifth Avenue and 74th, This time we are looking south west across Central Park. The tall building at the right was the Gulf + Western Building at Broadway and 60th at Columbus Circle, now a hotel. All the buildings to the left of that line Central Park South.



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46) Two unnamed people kissing on Woody Allen's balcony, or one flight up, terrace, at 74th and Fifth Avenue. Central Park south is on the right. The tall building above the people is the Empire State Building at Fifth Ave and 34th Street.



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47) This is almost a repeat shot from earlier. It's a shot of the intersection of Fifth Avenue at 61th Street, looking north. The Hotel Pierre (2 East 61st Street) awning is at right.



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48) Another shot from Woody's terrace at Fifth and 74th. The Empire State Building is at far left in the background. Most of the other buildings are on Central Park South. The line of cars at bottom left is Fifth Avenue.



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49) This picture is taken on West 44th Street between 8th and 9th Aves looking east through the Theater District. The Majestic Theater (245 West 44th) and the St. James Theater across the street (246 West 44th) are both between 7th Ave and 8th Ave. In the far distance is the Pan Am (now Met Life) Building at Park Ave and 44th. The Globe Hotel at right, at the southwest corner of 44th and 8th was a flophouse in its later years and torn down to make a larger hotel. A Shake Shack is on the ground floor.



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50) This is a picture of the front steps of Lincoln Center. The fountain is the pyramid-shaped light in the center. The Metropolitan Opera House is at the center back.



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51) This shot is taken from Broadway and 45th Street looking west at the Broadway theaters between Broadway and 8th Avenue. The Booth Theater (222 West 45th), The Royale (242 West 45th street; now the the Bernard Jacobs Theater), and the Golden Theater (252 West 45th) are at left. The Music Box Theater (239 West 45th) is at right.



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52) This is a shot of the old marquee of the Broadway Theater at 1681 Broadway at West 53rd Street in northern Times Square.



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53) Here we are looking at the marquee of Radio City Music Hall which is at 6th Avenue and West 50th Street. We are looking north from West 49th Street. A horse drawn carriage can be seen at right.



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54) This shot is right up the center of Times Square looking up 7th Avenue. The men in the foreground are at about 44th Street. The Coca Cola sign in the background was at West 47th Street.



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55) This next shot is basically perpendicular to the left shot. The phone booths were behind the Police Station at 43rd and Broadway. The Souvla King restaurant was on the west side of 7th Ave between 42nd and 43rd Street. It's now the entrance to a large office building.



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56) This shot is of an offramp from FDR Drive where it enters Manhattan, going west, next to the United Nations Building at 42nd Street and 1st Avenue. The little bridge over the street connects parts of Tudor City.



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57) I'm only 80% sure of this one, but I think it's the back side of the Secretariat Building of the U.N. at 43rd and United Nations Plaza. The front side doesn't have the vertical set of lights in the middle that looks like a staircase.



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58) This is the set of a Shakespeare play in the Delacourt Theater in Central Park. Manhattan came out in 1979 and was filmed in 1978. In that year the plays in the park were All's Well That Ends Well and The Taming of the Shrew. I'm not sure if this set was used on both shows.



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59) We are looking through a glass window at the Temple of Dendur in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. We would be standing on a little hill of grass outside the museum at East 84th Street and Fifth Avenue.



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60) This is a full house at the old Yankee Stadium in the Bronx at East 161 St. and River Avenue. This was later demolished and a new Yankee Stadium opened next door in 2009.



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61) These fireworks are going off over the Sheep Meadow in Central Park at about 67th Street. To the left of the fireworks, in the distance, you might be able to make out the "RCA" of the RCA Building sign in Rockefeller Center. and to the right of the fireworks in tiny letters is the name "AMERICANA" for the Americana Hotel, since renamed The Sheraton Centre Hotel & Towers in Times Square.

Annual fireworks in Central Park are a tradition of the New York City Marathon and got off to celebrate that years race. These were likely from that event on 1978.

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62) This is another shot of the fireworks. You can see the reflection of the fireworks off the buildings along Central Park South, and smoke coming from the ground around the Sheep Meadow.



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This is the opening monologue in Woody Allen's "Manhattan." In it, Woody (Isaac Davis) is trying out several different themes about his adoration of New York for the first chapter of his new book.

Source: Ami / Wordpress / November 10, 2012 / FILM /



"Chapter one."

"He adored New York City. He idolized it all out of proportion."

Uh, no. Make that, "He romanticized it all out of proportion. Better."

"To him, no matter what the season was, this was still a town that existed in black and white and pulsated to the great tunes of George Gershwin."

Ah . . . no. Let me start this over.


"Chapter one."

"He was too romantic about Manhattan, as he was about everything else."

"He thrived on the hustle-bustle of the crowds and the traffic."

"To him, New York meant beautiful women and street-smart guys . . . who seemed to know all the angles."

Ah, corny. Too corny

for (a man of ) my taste.

Let me . . . try and make it more profound.


"Chapter one. He adored New York City."

"To him, it was a metaphor for the decay of contemporary culture."

"The same lack of individual integrity to cause so many people to take the easy way out . . .

. . . was rapidly turning the town of his dreams in. . ."

No, it's gonna be too preachy. I mean, ya know, let's face it, I wanna sell some books here.


"Chapter one. He adored New York City, although to him it was a metaphor

for the decay of contemporary culture."

"How hard it was to exist in a society desensitized by drugs, loud music, television, crime, garbage. . . "

Too angry. I don't wanna be angry.


"Chapter one."

"He was as tough and romantic as the city he loved."

"Behind his black-rimmed glasses was the coiled sexual power of a jungle cat."

I love this.

"New York was his town . . . and it always would be."



Woody on his former apartment terrace at 930 FIfth Avenue and 74th Street.



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