1. J.D. Salinger and Catcher in the Rye

Penn Station-Vintage Photograph-McKim Mead White-Train Station-Remnants-Tour-NYCImage via Wikimedia Commons, Library of Congress

Catcher in the Rye is one of the most beloved and iconic coming-of-age stories that features a slew of notable New York City landmarks like the American Museum of Natural History, the original Beaux-Arts style Penn Station and Central Park, where the narrator, Holden Caulfield, frequently wonders about where the ducks go in winter. Readers unfamiliar with New York City wouldn’t be able to separate actual city sites with places like the fictional Edmont Hotel where Holden meets the prostitute Sunny. Out of all of the hotels mentioned in the book that actually existed, Seton Hotel is the only one that remains.

As the book set in the 1940s, it’s interesting to take note of what stands as timeless material and what doesn’t. While current New Yorkers haven’t found themselves at a pay phone in a good number of years, people can still readily take cabs even though apps like Uber and Lyft have begun to dominate the scene. The Biltmore Hotel may have been replaced by a Bank of America, but New Yorkers can still visit Central Park’s pond to contemplate where ducks go when the water freezes, and hang out in the Wicker Bar in the Seton Hotel. With a city so vibrant and cultured like New York City, change happens rapidly and nothing illustrates that quite like a novel set in a previous time period.

Join us for our next tour of the Remnants of Penn Station:

Tour of the Remnants of Penn Station
Next, check out By the Decade, 11 Great Fiction Books Set in NYC 1900s to 2000s and 17 Gilded Age Mansions of Millionaire Row on NYC’s 5th AvenueGet in touch with the author at LitByLiterature.