New York, New York (On the Town)

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Sheet music for "New York, New York" from On the Town

"New York, New York" is a song from the 1944 musical On the Town and the 1949 MGM musical film of the same name. The music was written by Leonard Bernstein and the lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green. A well known line of this song is:

New York, New York, a helluva town. The Bronx is up but The Battery's down.

For the film version, the word "helluva" was changed to "wonderful" to appease the Production Code offices.[1] In the film, the song was performed by Gene Kelly, Jules Munshin, and Frank Sinatra.[2] In 2004, the film version finished at No. 41 in AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs survey of top tunes in American cinema.[3]

It is not to be confused with the "Theme from New York, New York", originally performed by Liza Minnelli and later popularized by Sinatra ("Start spreadin' the news, I'm leaving today"). However, in his Concert for the Americas performance, Sinatra sang this song as the verse for his more famous "Theme from New York, New York".[citation needed]

In popular culture[edit]

"New York, New York" was referenced by John Williams for his celebratory For New York, composed in 1988 for Bernstein's 70th birthday gala.[4]

The song was parodied as "Springfield, Springfield" in the 1993 episode "Boy-Scoutz 'n the Hood" of The Simpsons. A sailor even appears as another homage to the song, until he realizes he isn’t in New York (which Bart points out).[5][6]

A pastiche of the song entitled "Twenty-four Hours In Tunbridge Wells" was written and performed by Eric Idle and Neil Innes, with Gillian Gregory, for an episode of the same name in the second season of the UK comedy series Rutland Weekend Television in 1976.[7]

It was covered in a mash-up with "I Love New York" on the Glee episode "New York".

In the Tim Burton film Sleepy Hollow, Johnny Depp's Ichabod Crane utters "The Bronx is up and the Battery's down" to his traveling party in the final scene.

Alex, Marty, Gloria, and Melman sing the chorus of the song in Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted.[8][9]

The song was parodied in an episode of The Critic ("New York, New York, a terrible town/The sky is brown and the water is brown").[10]

Leonard Bernstein himself conducts the song in a New York Medley during the Night of 100 Stars in 1985.[11]

During Wheel of Fortune's first road trip to New York in 1988, the song was played over an image montage of the city, and the lyrics were altered from "It's a helluva town" to "It's a wonderful town".

The first issue of Sam and Max: Freelance Police opens with Sam singing a parody of the song's chorus. ("The mimes are food for the bums underground.")

In a sketch performed in the second season of the Australian comedy series The Late Show, Tony Martin, Mick Molloy, and Jason Stephens claim to have holidayed in New York City over the season break, leading to a musical sequence featuring the trio dressed in sailor costumes, miming to "New York, New York," despite the fact the city they are cavorting in is obviously Melbourne (where The Late Show was filmed).


  1. ^ "Turner Classic Movies". Archived from the original on 2018-12-20.
  2. ^ "Frank Sinatra, Gene Kelly, and Jules Munshin - "New York, New York" from On The Town (1949)". Night Owl TV. Archived from the original on 2021-12-12. Retrieved March 28, 2019 – via YouTube.
  3. ^ "AFI's 100 YEARS…100 SONGS". American Film Institute. Retrieved 2023-12-07.
  4. ^ Stevenson, Joseph. "For New York, variations on themes of Leonard Bernstein for orchestra". AllMusic. Retrieved January 30, 2015.
  5. ^ "The Simpsons" Boy Scoutz 'n the Hood (TV Episode 1993) - Trivia - IMDb, retrieved 2023-12-07
  6. ^ "The Simpsons" Boy Scoutz 'n the Hood (TV Episode 1993) - Connections - IMDb, retrieved 2023-12-07
  7. ^ Garrett Gilchrist: THE FABULOUS RUTLAND WEEKEND TELEVISION EPISODE GUIDE VERSION 1.69. Retrieved 19 November 2019.
  8. ^ Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted (2012) - Soundtracks - IMDb, retrieved 2023-12-07
  9. ^ Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted (2012) - Connections - IMDb, retrieved 2023-12-07
  10. ^ "The Critic: "New York, New York"". YouTube.
  11. ^