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1. Introduction

Having lived in New York for four years, a certain portray of the country's largest city has well developed within me. The major reason for creating this composition lies within the fact that my experiences in New York have given me a new perception and conception of today's world. Contradicting my once naive judgements, New York has taught me to view with critical thinking, always considering both positive and negative aspects. With that in mind, I have tried to compose an objective, rather than a subjective piece of work, including basic facts, New York's positive and negative standings today, New York's prospective future and my own personal experiences.

Numerous clichés have spread about New York being one of the most important, impressing and most attractive cities in the world. Other images portray New York as being the most dangerous and chaotic city on the face of this planet. Without a doubt, there is a bit of truth in every statement, though New York cannot be defined by either one of those images presented above. The most disturbing aspect of it all is, that these stereotypes are mostly propagated by individuals without any previous knowledge or experience of New York. The following quotation represents a short and relatively unbiased view of the "real" New York.

"On the one hand, New York is a focus of culture and power. New York's attractions include spectacular sky-scrapers, Broadway theaters, outstanding museums, and posh department stores. The city houses the national centers of finance, insurance, advertising, and communications. On the other hand, New York is a city of poverty and deterioration. Acres of neglected tenements and failing businesses establishments betray the city's social and economic troubles. As America's largest city, with a population of 7 million people of various ethnic groups, New York is plagued by interracial conflicts, slums, and financial difficulties."America in Close-up: The Urbanization of America. England: Longman Group, 1992, p. 81.

The attached Progress Report of this composition states all occasions on which the individual themes were worked out, although the four years of experiencing life in America's society are not mentioned. Having made several "native" friends in New York, diverse views of Manhattan have of course influenced my basic ideas, and continue to enlarge my point of view.

While reading the composition, certain characteristics might catch the eye. Because my English was much influenced by the sojourns in the United States, I dedicated this piece of work to American English, rather than British.

One other significant point might pose a question to the reader. The oftentimes confusing nickname The Big Apple derives from Jazz musicians during the 1920s. Whenever performing in a city, that particular city was called an "apple". Since New York was the biggest city in the United States even then, it has been called "The Big Apple".

Concluding the introduction, I would like to thank my supervisor, Mag. Gerda Sturm, for her ideas and suggestions that have led to the completion of this composition.