Asterisk denotes entries on real places.
Interestingly, Dreiser also briefly depicts a sense of Chicago’s inadequacy and lack of sophistication when Carrie attempts to work as an actress and is told that New York City is the only place in which to begin a stage career. In addition, late in the novel, Carrie’s lover Hurstwood reflects upon the fact that his prior position of some influence in Chicago means nothing in the larger, more sophisticated East Coast city.
*New York City. Great eastern city to which Hurstwood ultimately takes Carrie when he must flee Chicago after stealing money from his employer. To Hurstwood, New York at first represents anonymity and the opportunity to start anew, although he is soon discouraged to find that the social barriers between the rich and the poor are not as easy to navigate as those in Chicago. This less forgiving nature of New York City ultimately contributes to Hurstwood’s downfall.
Her Chicago dreams of the stage temporarily forgotten, Carrie initially does not care for New York. Ensconced in the small flat that is the best Hurstwood can afford, Carrie is simultaneously fascinated and desperately envious of the city’s opulence, far above that which she saw in Chicago. In particular, Dreiser describes the lavish fashion parade that regularly occurs along the famous Broadway in the theater district and serves to reawaken Carrie’s vague ambitions for money and social status.
As Hurstwood’s fortunes continue to decline, Carrie resolves once again to find work on the stage, and she achieves fairly quick success, leaving Hurstwood in the process. For Carrie, then, New York ultimately represents a place of unparalleled opportunity, where things can happen overnight; it is also the first place where she is able to support herself without a man’s help. To Hurstwood, on the other hand, New York is a city so unfeeling that he is forced to turn to panhandling and ultimately to suicide. The opulence and poverty that exist side by side in New York make Carrie and Hurstwood’s opposite destinies quite believable, yet Dreiser also makes apparent the role that luck plays in the big city, suggesting perhaps that Carrie’s and Hurstwood’s fates could perhaps just as easily have been reversed.
*Montreal. Canadian city to which Hurstwood initially flees with Carrie in order to escape arrest following his theft from his employer. At first Hurstwood intends to stay there to get his bearings; therefore, Montreal serves as a temporary sanctuary from the American authorities. However, when he immediately runs into a business acquaintance from Chicago, Hurstwood realizes that Montreal cannot offer him the fresh start he needs; he therefore returns most of the stolen money and leaves immediately for New York with Carrie.
Columbia City. Fictional Wisconsin town from which Carrie begins her journey to Chicago. To Carrie, Columbia City is a stifling place with no opportunities, and she believes that to return there would be an admission of defeat.