New York City is famous for its frantic pace, thus a "New York Minute" is even faster than a regular minute. While the song is about sudden change, it is also set in New York, beginning with the Wall Street worker who gets on a train to leave his life behind. The sound of sirens is also familiar to denizens of the city, and the park Henley refers to near the end is Central Park.
The song's co-writer Danny Kortchmar told us
that Henley had the title in mind, and wanted the song to reflect the atmosphere of New York. "That's why those last verses he's singing, he's walking through the park and the leaves are rustling," Kortchmar explained. "He wanted to capture the essence of autumn or early winter in New York. We had the title, and we had kind of the idea. I sat down at the piano and started playing the chord changes that you hear, and at home I fooled around with it for a while. Then I went to him and I said, 'I think I've got something for 'New York Minute.'' I played it for him and he went, 'Yeah, that's it, that's it. Let's record it.' And we did."