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From 1914 to 2006, 396 feature films with titles containing New York place names were released. This pattern emerged during the silent era, peaked from the late 1920s to the early 1940s, and then dropped off steadily before rebounding in the 1970s. This article discusses the cinematic representation of cities and urban life in the movies and the special place of New York as an “imagined city” and a cultural icon. New York’s associations in the popular imagination help explain the frequent occurrence of themes of negativity, violence, nightlife, and grandiosity (royalty or divinity) in these titles. The use of New York place names in titles creates guideposts in a socio-cognitive map of the city.


This work was originally published in Names.



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