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Finding Love in NYC, Literally

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​The city that never sleeps is the backdrop for some of literature’s best love stories.

In honor of Valentine’s Day, we asked our NYPL book experts to name their favorite romantic scenes that take place in the city, and then we mapped their locations.

Click on the red hearts for titles and authors, and scroll down for descriptions of why we love these love stories.

Manhattan

Inwood

tito

When Tito Loved Clara by Jon Michaud is a then-and-now story, tracing the relationship between a boy and a girl from the Dominican Republic who start as high-school sweethearts. As adults, Tito comes back into Clara’s life at a particularly vulnerable point, and frequent flashbacks give readers a glimpse into both the past and present of the neighborhood.

 

 

 

 

 

The Cloisters

annie

Nancy Garden’s groundbreaking LGBT YA novel, Annie on My Mind, presents us not only with one of the most beautifully described love stories in YA literature, it also presents us with an incredible panorama of New York City cultural landmarks. For Annie and Liza, the book’s two main characters, these landmarks are immensely significant and, for readers, the inclusion of such iconic NYC locations is alluring.  I wanted to revisit all of them as soon as I finished the book, so many years ago—as much as I wanted to meet Annie and Liza for coffee at one of the magnificent (primarily Greek-run) coffee shops that could be found on almost every NYC block in the 1970s and '80s. —Jeff Katz, Chatham Square

 

 

Harlem

what they found

There’s a lot of love in Walter Dean Myers’ collection of YA short stories, What They Found: Love on 145th Street, but Marisol and Skeeter’s story is especially poignant. Marisol: “What I liked about Skeeter was that when you talked to him you got the feeling he was really listening, really wanted to hear what you were saying.” Aw. Yes.

 

 

 

 

 

Upper West Side

new yorkers

The New Yorkers by Cathleen Schine. An Upper West Side street and multiple love stories among the residents, often set in the local cafe. Plus, a great dog on the cover... —Danita Nichols, Inwood

 

 




 

goodbye

What if your first kiss really was as special as you always wished it to be? In Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead, 7th grader Bridge and her more-than-a-friend Sherm have that special moment on the steps of his brownstone in the Upper West Side. (Plus a perfect epilogue!) —Anna Taylor, Programming

 

 

 

 

 

The Dakota, on 72nd Street and Central Park West

time and again

Jack Finney transports the reader from modern-day New York City to 19th-century New York City and back again in his extraordinary, thought-provoking, romantic tale, Time and Again. Incredibly, the centerpiece of the story—the time-travel launching pad—is the Dakota, on 72nd Street and Central Park West (the building that is most famous now for being the home of John Lennon and Yoko Ono). A modern classic that truly can alter one’s perceptions of the world upon completion. —Jeff Katz, Chatham Square

 

 



The Metropolitan Museum of Art

innocence

What about love doomed to never be realized? In Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence, a novel brimming with New York’s Gilded Age high society, Newland Archer falls in love with the Countess Ellen Olenska. Archer is enthralled by Ellen and cannot help but desperately love her, an emotion that Ellen eventually admits to returning. Since they’re both married, though, any amorous relationship between them would condemn them forever. The majority of the New York locations happen around 5th Ave. between 57th and 58th Streets, but the scene where Ellen and Archer finally agree to consummate their relationship happens at the “Art Museum”, largely believed to the Metropolitan Museum of Art—Katrina Ortega, Hamilton Grange

 

 

The Museum of Natural History

rosie project

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion is a charming book about an Australian man with (undiagnosed) Asperger’s who tries to find a wife. What he finds instead is a woman who fits none of his criteria but might be able to give him love. When these two Aussies decide to go on vacation to New York City, how can this genetics professor pass up sharing the Museum of Natural History with his potential partner? —Leslie Bernstein, Mott Haven

 

 

 



The New York Public Library, Stephen A. Schwarzman Building

tiffany's

In Truman Capote’s offbeat New York romance Breakfast at Tiffany’s, one scene is set in the main reading room of The New York Public Library; the nameless narrator, unseen, observes Holly Golightly in an unlikely environment as she “sped from one book to the next,” researching her hoped-for future life in Brazil. In the film version with Audrey Hepburn and George Peppard, two scenes, more romantically charged, were actually filmed in the Library. —Kathie Coblentz, Special Collections

 

 

 


3rd Avenue and 37th Street

adverbs

Daniel Handler’s novel Adverbs isn’t a love story, but it is a story about the many forms love can take. It’s told as a series of interconnecting, overlapping short stories that share characters. Handler himself even makes an appearance in one chapter. In the book’s opening scene, our narrator breaks up with his girlfriend on 3rd Avenue and 37th Street and promptly falls in love with his cabdriver. It only gets weirder from there. —Charlie Radin, Inwood

 

 

 

 

Sahara’s and 2nd Avenue

heroic

Heroic Measures by Jill Ciment is a very sweet book about an aging, childless couple whose connection is bolstered when they need to care for their ailing dog, a dachshund named Dorothy. There’s a subplot involving the selling of their East Village co-op and another involving a tanker stuck in a Midtown tunnel. They dine at Sahara’s and a fictional 2nd avenue restaurant called Xza-Xzu’s. —Jenny Baum, Jefferson Market

 

 

 

 

Union Square

forever

A timeless story with love floating in and out of it, Pete Hamill’s Forever is one of my favorite New York novels. Cormac O’Connor arrives in New York during the 18th century and watches (and helps) the city grow. Fast forward to the 21st century, and we encounter the woman who will change his destiny, if he can only win her heart: Delfina Cintron. —Emily Pullen, NYPL Shop

 

 

 



The Strand bookstore on 12th & Broadway

dash

In Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan, Lily has left a red notebook full of challenges on a shelf at her favorite NYC bookstore just waiting for the right guy to come along but is Dash the right guy? As they pass the notebook back & forth trading dreams, desires and dares they criss-cross New York City and wonder if their notebook connection can live up to the real thing. Who doesn’t dream of meeting a perfect stranger at Christmastime in NYC? And it all starts at a bookstore. Perfect.—Anne Rouyer, Mulberry Street

 

 


Greenwich Village

princess diaries

For a more traditional love story, there’s the Princess Diaries series by Meg Cabot, which starts in Greenwich Village and includes a sweet romance between Princess Mia and Michael Moscovitz. — Susie Heimbach, Mulberry Street

 

 

 



 

East Village

interestings

Ash and Ethan have a beautiful thread of a love story in Meg Wolitzer’s The Interestings. One image from their relationship that stays with me is Ethan, a cartoonist, having to wedge his drawing table beneath their loft bed because their first apartment in the East Village was so tiny. —Gwen Glazer, Readers Services

 

 



 

Alphabet City

something borrowed

Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin. Rachel is a hardworking attorney in NYC who cuts loose at her 30th birthday party thrown by her best friend Darcy. After too many drinks Rachel wakes up in bed with Darcy’s fiancé Dex, and a relationship ensues. The book is set between NYC and The Hamptons, but the first night Dex and Rachel get together they are at a bar 7B in Alphabet City and they later go back to Rachel's apartment near 73rd and 3rd. —Morgan O’Reilly, Aguilar

 

 



Gray’s Papaya

norah

Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan. Why is this title a winner? NYC’s indie rock scene + hipsters + teenage angst + exciting first dates + sarcasm + realistic dialogue = a recipe for one of the best, non-mushy romance YA novels of all time! —Anne Barreca, Battery Park City

 

 

 

 


Lower East Side

super sad

For readers who like their dystopian sci-fi served up with a side of romance, Gary Shteyngart’s Super Sad True Love Story is the story of how Lenny Abramov, a pudgy book-loving schmuck, falls in love with Eunice Park, a sleek techno-file and total hottie. Much of their romance takes place in Lenny’s tiny apartment on the Lower East Side at the Vladek Houses, a housing project overlooking the East River. Other New York landmarks that form the backdrop of Eunice and Lenny’s futuristic, politically charged love affair include Central Park and the North Shore of Staten Island. —Nancy Aravecz, Jefferson Market

 

 

Queens

Flushing

preparation

Preparation for the Next Life by Atticus Lish is a harrowing, impactful love story taking place all around the margins of NYC, but primarily Flushing. An Iraq war veteran with PTSD and an undocumented immigrant from the Uighur tribe in China meet-cute and begin a relationship. My favorite novel in years, perhaps longer. —Alexis Walker, Epiphany

“They hiked out of Chinatown until they were far enough away to see the red lacquered Chinese eaves and the fire escapes and then kept going…by the expressway and the autorepairs whose signs were in Chinese. The road took them by a cemetery…. They fell into a rhythm, going for miles, and she lost herself, their hoofs beating the drum of the earth as they marched.

When they made it to the rise where Jewel Avenue crossed over the fields and they could see in all directions—the old condominium towers, the sheets of water, the rooftops and the distance—they stopped and looked at it all. They were at the center of a wheel. Skinner put his arms around her.

That’s a view, he said.”

The 7 Train

re jane

Jane goes from Queens to Seoul and back in a quest to figure out her own identity as an orphan and a Korean-American young woman. Two different men play roles in Patricia Park’s Re Jane, but Jane’s real love story doesn’t involve either of them in this modern-day coming-of-age tale. —Gwen Glazer, Readers Services

 

 



JFK Airport

statistical probability

Four minutes are all it takes for the ingénue to miss her flight from JFK to London in The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith. But the timing proves fateful when Oliver, a handsome British boy, appears on Hadley’s next flight as the two of them leave the airport and the Big Apple behind and embark on a sweet YA romance.

 

 



Brooklyn

The Brooklyn Bridge

saint mazie

In Saint Mazie, Jami Attenberg gives us the brassy Mazie Gordon, a woman who lives on the LES in the ’20s. Mazie’s too independent to ever marry so she devotes her life to the city, the people, and her friends. Like any smart young woman in the city, Mazie knows how to enjoy herself, so the passionate scene on the Brooklyn Bridge with her sometimes-lover is both realistic and romantic. —Caitlyn Colman-McGaw, Programming

 

 

 

 

Cobble Hill, Coney Island, Bensonhurst, Flatbush 

brooklyn

I believe the majority of Colm Toibin’s Brooklyn takes place in Cobble Hill, but Eilis and Tony’s love story begins at a Friday night social and takes them all over Brooklyn—trips to Coney Island; meeting Tony’s family at their house in Bensonhurst; taking in a Dodgers game at the former Ebbet’s Field in Flatbush with his brothers. —Susen Shi, Mid-Manhattan

 

 



The Bronx

great world

Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann. Corrigan fell in love with Adelita in the Bronx. That scene on the couch in her apartment, when he’s watching TV with her children and she recognizes she loves him? So beautiful. —Genoveve Stowell, Grand Central

 

 

 



 

Yankee Stadium

love of the game

For the Love of the Game—Michael Shaara’s last novel, published after his death—features a major-league baseball player pitching what could be his last game in front of tens of thousands of fans at Yankee Stadium. There’s a traditional love story here too, about Billy trying to figure out why his longtime girlfriend left him, but baseball is his truest, most constant love.

 

 

 


Long Island

gatsby

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Who could ever forget the lavish mansion in West Egg, Long Island and Gatsby staring off across the water at Daisy’s green light.​ —Lynn Lobash, Readers Services

 

 

 

 

Staten Island

pigman

The Pigman by Paul Zindel. It’s 1968 on Staten Island and two troubled teens, John and Lorraine, are telling the story of how they befriended Mr. Pignati, a neighborhood man they’d previously made fun of and pranked. Mr. Pignati, a.k.a. “The Pigman,” is the first adult to give them positive attention and affection. Through this friendship John and Lorraine begin to fall for each other romantically. Written in the late 1960s, you could say this classic YA novel is one of the books that started it all, and it still stands the test of time. 

John and Lorraine attend Franklin High School in the novel. It is said to be a stand-in for Tottenville High School where Paul Zindel was a science teacher from 1959 to 1969. The school is now located in Hugenot, but in the 1960’s, its location was 528 Academy Ave, Staten Island. —Anne Rouyer, Mulberry Street

 

Have trouble reading standard print? Many of these titles are available in formats for patrons with print disabilities.

Staff picks are chosen by NYPL staff members and are not intended to be comprehensive lists. We'd love to hear your ideas too, so leave a comment and tell us what you’d recommend. And check out our Staff Picks browse tool for more recommendations!

Comments

Patron-generated content represents the views and interpretations of the patron, not necessarily those of The New York Public Library. For more information see NYPL's Website Terms and Conditions.
Love the map, and thanks for including The Rosie Project. I wrote some of the scenes in the screenplay (which became the book) sitting in the NYC Public Library back in the winter of 2010. And of course virtually all of the sequel The Rosie Effect is set in NYC.

My favorite NY story is still

My favorite NY story is still Portrait of Jennie. Dated a little, perhaps, but I love its poetical prose, the characters, and the plot.

NY novel

Washington Square by Henry James . Fascinating to imagine upper-middle class woman's life in Manhattan in the 1880s.

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