Time-Life Corporation invited Burgess to contribute to their series of illustrated books on cities of the world by writing about New York. (The series as a whole was titled The Great Cities.)
Burgess's edited prose was published by Time-Life books in 1976 alongside photographs by Dan Budnik, Enrico Ferorelli, Leonard Freed, Chester Higgins and Jay Maisel. Writing in the second part of his autobiography, "You've Had Your Time" (1990), Burgess recalls that his wife, Liana, had originally taken photographs to accompany his text, but the images were rejected by Time-Life.
This series contains an incomplete prospectus for The Great Cities series of books, issued by Time-Life International Ltd, and one complete, and two incomplete, drafts of Burgess's prose about New York.