Between the late nineteenth century and the Second World War, New York City became one of the most familiar cityscapes in the world and a major international tourist destination. This article explores the reactions of visitors from England and France, concentrating on responses to the city’s architecture and its ethnic and racial diversity. For many Europeans, New York disturbed ingrained assumptions about the nature of modern metropolises and threatened established divisions of the world into “progressive” and “backward” domains. Tourism, however, also played its part in the development of new international understandings of New York. By the Second World War, the interpretations of the city written in international guidebooks and experienced in organized tours emphasized its distinctively modern and American characteristics instead of reading the city through its differences from London or Paris.