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Before I Knew New York, I Knew Liberty City: A Retrospective of the GTA IV Setting



Today, April 29, 2023, Grand Theft Auto IV celebrates its 15th anniversary. A New Yorker recalls how Rockstar’s imaginary version of Manhattan helped him connect with his home.

Ask anyone I’ve ever featured in New York and they’ll tell you that I call myself “the worst New Yorker.” It’s because for the longest time in my life I just didn’t know it. I knew the city as a skyline that I could see from my window and maps that I could refer to online, but I rarely went out and explored my own home. I couldn’t tell you from the bottom of the Manhattan grid, and I certainly couldn’t point you to any specific spot. As a young man, this handicap was easy to attribute to the fact that I had a busy immigrant family that couldn’t afford to take me with them as a child. However, later in life, when opportunities arose in adolescence, it was social anxieties and, unfortunately, learned behaviors that kept me staying at home and playing games instead. And so, for the longest time in my life, I had no intimate knowledge or connection to the only place I ever called home. At least that was the case until Grand Theft Auto IV came into my life.