I began to like New York, the racy, adventurous feel of it at night, and the satisfaction that the constant flicker of men and women and machines gives to the restless eye. I liked to walk up Fifth Avenue and pick out romantic women from the crowd and imagine that in a few minutes I was going to enter into their lives, and no one would ever know or disapprove. Sometimes, in my mind, I followed them to their apartments on the corners of hidden streets, and they turned and smiled back at me before they faded through a door into warm darkness. At the enchanted metropolitan twilight I felt a haunting loneliness sometimes, and felt it in others – poor young clerks who loitered in front of windows waiting until it was time for a solitary restaurant dinner – young clerks in the dusk, wasting the most poignant moments of night and life.

F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Great Gatsby, Chapter 3. Nick Carraway is watching the party unfold in Myrtle’s Manhattan apartment. This passage illustrates the duality of city life: the clamor and the ‘constant flicker of men and women’ in the city that never sleeps, and on the other hand the vast loneliness that some people experience in the big city.