What would be a good metaphor to describe the buildings of New York City?

Swords could be a good metaphor to describe the buildings of New York City. Other metaphors could explore the great variety of the different buildings in different parts of the city.

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New York City is famous for its extremely tall skyscrapers. Many buildings, especially in the neighborhood called Midtown where there are many large office buildings, have rows upon rows of glass windows. In recent years, new buildings have been going up that are even taller and thinner, with some of the newest additions to the landscape stretching over one hundred stories into the sky. These sleek tall buildings could be referred to as glass daggers.

However, New York City is not just filled with tall, glassy skyscrapers. Some neighborhoods have streets full of shorter buildings, like the famous beautiful brownstones of the Upper West Side. Many of these houses have been there for decades and have thus seen a lot of the world go by. Because of this, they might be described as wide old owls. Similarly, there are a lot of medium-sized apartment buildings in neighborhoods like Washington Heights and the East Village. Many of these buildings have fire escapes on the outside where people sit, and they are often surrounded by socialization and music on the street. Often these buildings are different heights and colors and are made of different materials. Because of this, these buildings might be likened to musical instruments in an orchestra.

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A metaphor is a comparison that does not use the words "like" or "as." New York City's buildings tend to be tall, thin, and glassy, rising incredibly high into the sky. A comparison or metaphor that might capture the length of New York's skyscrapers (skyscraper itself is a metaphor) as well the multitudes of them could be the following: they are clusters of bony, elongated fingers pointing skywards. Another one that captures the idea of length and multitude is to say they are a herd of gigantic glass giraffe necks.

Another aspect of New York skyscrapers is the power they exude. They are so tall and stark, gleaming with glass, that they reduce humans to an ant-like littleness, so that we are awed. Since scepters are symbols of power that are also long and thin, the buildings could be compared to gleaming glass scepters reaching up into the sky. Comparing them to the wands carried by a wizard and held up aloft to the heavens would be a similar metaphor.

Because the skyscrapers are so tall they seem to touch the heavens, they could be called celestial elevators.

But all the buildings in New York City are not skyscrapers. Rows and rows of five-story brick buildings line the streets. Because of their many windows and doors, they could be likened to rows of friendly faces.

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The New York skyline is very much dominated by skyscrapers, such as the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building, and the One World Trade Center. There are many metaphors that come to mind when looking at the skyline of New York, but the one that I would suggest is to compare the New York skyline to swords.

Swords are long and sharp weapons that reach up when held upright, just like the skyscrapers of New York. Also, just like the skyscrapers, swords gleam and glisten in the sunlight, reflecting the light from the sun in different angles. Swords are symbols of power, and so are many of the buildings that define the New York skyline: the Empire State building hosts many very successful companies, such as LinkedIn, for example. The Trump Tower hosts the headquarters of the powerful Trump Organization.

Therefore, you could say that just like swords represent strength and power, the buildings of New York represent the strength of the American economy. Through the business deals being made in many of these buildings, the American economy is able to keep growing, bringing strength and power to the country. Also, just like swords, the economic power houses contained in these buildings help the country to stay safe and to protect it from danger. They protect the country's economy just like a sword offers protection.

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The varied architecture of the buildings of New York is fascinating, to say the least.  Nonetheless, one salient quality of several buildings such as the UN Building, the Seagram Building, and the Lever House are the tinted glass of green, blue, and brown that cover at least one wall.  So, these skyscrapers seem like giant votive candles to the altars of commerce and power.  Votive candles are contained in tinted glass containers; the candles are lighted as intentions for prayer on behalf of the needs of a person. These candles are lined up before an altar where there is often a statue or picture of a figure connected with the religion to which the votives are associated.

With respect to the Seagram's Building which has a curtain of "whisky-brown" glass:

The building was, notably, the first with floor-to-ceiling windows, making the wall a true curtain of glass....

Here, another idea is also the disguise of these buildings that can be used metaphorically as they appear to be mirroring the other buildings, cars, and people near them, reflecting the hustle, the avarice, the cupidity of a commercial world.  

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One good metaphor would be comparing the towering skyscrapers and their respective streets to canyons. It has been said that the streets of Manhattan are examples of man-made canyons instead of natural canyons; the "water" of cars and pedestrian traffic moves along the "riverbed" of asphalt, while windows and flags form the texture and topography of the canyon walls. Looking down a Manhattan street from a window view, one can see far into the distance, and yet barely at all to either side; sometimes, the sky is concealed by buildings (rock walls) so high they seem to curve over. Construction creates new cityscapes and changes the appearance of the rectangular canyons, just as a river slowly carves new walls into the sediment and bedrock beneath.

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