When people speak of New York as being different, something other than America, they seem to have in mind a special quality of the city’s culture and politics, perhaps associated with its ethnic makeup. Such perceptions, however imprecise, have a ring of truth.
Culture and politics in New York are based on premises not quite shared by the dominant American culture. The most influential myths of America, those that have been incorporated into the culture, are easily identified in their origins with specific regions: Puritan New England and Jeffersonian Virginia. Neither place is really as representative of America as are the more difficult-to-characterize middle colonies. Yet in spite of the narrowness and purity of the Puritan dream of “a city upon a hill” and of agrarian Jeffersonianism, these myths have come to be associated with America, evoking the virtues of the small town and the agricultural frontier....
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