Are cities like ships?

At least, in English, are they referred to as ‘she’? I have used feminine pronouns for Rome in a story I’m working on, whereas in Russian – which language does, of course, have grammatical genders – Rome (Рим) is, grammatically speaking, masculine. The author is awe-struck at the alchemical transformation thus wrought upon his story, in which the city is no longer identified closely with the male protagonist but, rather, with the female antagonist, and I, in turn, without wanting to go all Sapir-Whorf on you, am struck by how much grammatical genders spill over into other channels of understanding.

To return to my original question, then, I cannot identify precisely why Rome should in my mind be ‘she’ and not ‘he’. I never had the Latin for the judgin’, but Roma is feminine – is it a hangover from classical times? However, in that case, York and London should be masculine, and I remain to be convinced that either city is – indeed, I adduce evidence to the contrary for at least one of them. Any thoughts?

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