Tuesday, November 22, 2011

New York - Its Best Years

What was it like to visit the city of New York during its glory days? Author Eric Metaxas relates how it may have seemed to a passenger from Europe on a ship, steaming "past the Statue of Liberty and toward the fabled island of Manhattan, the city overwhelmed" a perceptive observer: "Manhattan at the end of the Jazz Age was a dizzying place for any visitor, even one as cosmopolitan as" a professor from Berlin's university:
New York seemed to exhibit the crazy, boundless energy of a bright-eyed adolescent in full growth spurt: the whole island seemed to be bursting at the seems in every direction, grinning as it did so. The tallest building on the planet, the Bank of Manhattan Trust building, had just three months earlier been topped by the silver spire of the newest leader, the Chrysler Building. But the Empire State Building, which would in a few months surpass them all - and hold the lead for forty years - was that very minute growing at the unprecedented rate of four and a half stories per week. The nineteen-building Art Deco masterpiece that would become Rockefeller Center was under construction, too, and far uptown, also under construction, was the George Washington Bridge - soon to be the longest bridge in the world, almost doubling the previous record.
The city was at its prime, as yet untouched by the ravages of the Great Depression, the rationing of the war years, and the inner-city poverty which would characterize the second half of the twentieth century; it wasn't perfect - still wrestling with the wave of organized crime sparked by Prohibition - but it was perhaps as good as it ever got.