Alone in a City of Millions

Walt Whitman’s “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry” is a cry for connection. It is amazing how little we tend to interact with the strangers of the busy city of New York. However, we also tend to have connections throughout the day that we take for granted no matter how small it is. It may come from a simple, friendly smile when we cross strangers on the sidewalk. We might not notice this because it isn’t an active smile. That would just scare the person. Connection can come from a single “Thank You” or “Have a Great Day” to the cashier at your favorite coffee shop. Make connections by saying hello to the bus driver or the security guard at the front desk.

What amazes me about Whitman’s “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry” is that a lot of this is prevalent in the subway. We make connections when we crowd around the break dancers in Union Square. We share the connection of trying to hold in our laughter when the conductor loses his or her temper and starts shouting “PLEASE STEP AWAY FROM THE DOORS.” We all know that people bring out their phones or children and adults look out the window when the train comes out to see daylight. It’s great feeling to know that you aren’t the only one smiling when the train goes above ground. The train cars are both figuratively and literally brightened up. In that one moment we all become one in embracing this heavenly light.

It is easy to feel alone in a busy city. Sometimes we want a lasting connection and sometimes we associate connections to words. However, we connect everyday, but we fail to see it. It is the little things that we overlook. It is the little things that makes us a little bit more happier at the end of the day. All we have to do is identify it and make things more clearer for ourselves.

3 thoughts on “Alone in a City of Millions

  1. I 100% agree with everything you have written here. I lived in Manhattan by myself my first year of college and I was absolutely miserable. I made friends at Baruch but they were commuters, and a lot of the people I met in NY didn’t actually live here.

    I never knew it could be so lonely in such a big city… taking the train and public transportation and encountering millions of people each and every day and not making a personal connection with any of them.

    A lot of people say technology is to blame, but Whitman’s piece shows that there has been a yearning for real human connection in Manhattan and the commuter lifestyle forever. As long as there are crazy, busy, hard-workers in the world (and plus a majority of those people living in NYC).. there will always be a lack of personal connection with people here.

  2. Yea, anyone could relate to this. On the ferry, the subway, or just walking through the streets, you see people and you imagine stories about them. Whitman documented a timeless human behavior in this poem

  3. I agree with everything written in this post. Even though Manhattan is such a big city where there are millions of people, its not hard to feel alone. If you really think about it though, we are not alone because of these connections that we make with other people crossing our way.

Leave a Reply