"New York is not America" is a timely, apt cliche. It's told to visitors who see America for the first time by first (and last?) seeing New York City. The rest of the country is a bit different.
Englishman Ford Madox Ford's 1927 travelogue with this title popularized the phrase, but didn't coin it.
New York is not America,
being a mirror to the states
by Ford Madox Ford (1873-1939)
New York: A. & C. Boni
City Journal Spring 1995 | Out-of-Step New York by David Brooks
It's a clichÃ© that New York City is not America, but never before has New York been so out of step with the rest of the country. Urbanities - Spring 1995. ...
http://www.city-journal.org/html/ 5_2_urbanities-out_of_step.html - 76k - Cached - Similar pages
June 1878, Scribner's Monthly, pg. 256:
In the first place, New York is not America, as Paris is France.
June 1890, Century Illustrated Magazine, pg. 281:
"But I say, old fellow, New York is not America, and there's a queer thing you have to be behind the curtain to find out."
6 May 1898, Chicago Daily Tribune, pg. 5:
"You know I can scarcely say much about Chicago now, as I came directly to Evanston without stopping," he (English poet Richard Le Gallienne - ed.) said. "But I am looking forward to seeing it with great interest. They say New York is not America at all, and that one finds it much more here, and I think this must be so in a way."
September 1899, The Arena (Boston), pg. 378:
Happily, New York is not America as Paris is France.
22 September 1900, New York Times, pg. BR14:
John Lane will shortly publish a new volume by Richard Le Gallienne, something after the style of this author's "Prose Fancies." It will be entitled "Sleeping Beauty, and Other Prose Fancies," after the first essay. It is a "fancy," when Mr. Le Gallienne exclaims on landing in New York, "So, this is America!" As he goes on to note New York is not America, but a cosmopolis at the gates of America.
1 February 1902, New York Times, pg. BR11:
His Home in London and His Visit
to This Country - A Talk
"Well, of course, New York is not America, is it?" I said, thinking of Chinatown and Little Italy and East Houston Street and the other foreign quarters that have so little in common with Fifth Avenue. "You know, nobody was ever born in New York - not even Richard Croker."
28 March 1906, New York Times, pg. 8:
NEW YORK NOT AMERICA.
Mary Mortimer Maxwell Taken to
Task by a Brooklynite.
To the Editor of The New York Times:
I have read with a good deal of interest the bright articles in the Sunday issues of your paper from the pen of an "English WOman in New York," and have also been interested in the replies from her many critics. I do not doubt but that everything she has written about relative to our homes, our manners, our dress, and our tempers she has actually seen in her peregrinations through New York City. Her description of life in our flats, its conveniences and inconveniences, its trials and its temptations, is no doubt true. But then New York City is not America, (indeed it is more cosmopolitan than American,) and he or she who judges our people by the sample of civilization to be found within its borders will in my opinion go very far astray.
So, thank God, New York is not the whole of America, and all our families are not reared in narrow apartments where the light trickles in through a hole in an airshaft.
Brooklyn, March 26, 1906.
23 July 1922, New York Times, pg. 92:
WHEN the innocent, guileless, and acquisitive Englishman lands in New York, he is apt to form impressions of America which are fundamentally incorrect and which remain with him during his travels of investigation or on his return. He is not entirely to blame; rather, he is helped to fall into the position by the atmosphere in which he finds himself, even though he is warned again and again that New York is not America, and his candid friends confess in moments of expansion that there is a dim, mysterious country known as the Middle West whose inhabitants refer to the Atlantic seaboard as the "effete East."
4 March 1939, New York Herald Tribune, "This New York" by Lucius Beebe, pg. 16, col. 2:
Some wag once remarked that good Americans, when they died, went to Paris. Somebody also later discovered that New York was not America, a fortunate exemption, which makes it possible for good New Yorkers, when dead, to go not to Paris but to San Francisco. Only San Francisco rather prefers them alive.
6 February 1948, New York Herald Tribune, pg. 22, col. 2:
Simeon Strunsky Dies at 68;
Writer for "The New York Times"
His Unsigned Topical Essays
on Editorial Page Won
Him Wide Recognition
He was skeptical of any generalization, and the cliche "New York is not America" moved him repeatedly to demonstrate that it was nothing but America.
He was the author of several books...and "No Mean City," 1944. The last, a defense of New York against all criticism, expressed his love for the metropolis to which he had grown up and worked.