“From the ruins, lonely and inexplicable as the sphinx, rose the Empire State Building.
And just as it had been tradition of mine to climb to the Plaza roof to take leave of the beautiful city extending as far as the eyes could see, so now I went to the roof of that last and most magnificent of towers.
Then I understood. Everything was explained. I had discovered the crowning error of the city. Its Pandora’s box.
Full of vaunting pride, the New Yorker had climbed here, and seen with dismay what he had never suspected. That the city was not the endless sucession of canyons that he had supposed, but that it had limits, fading out into the country on all sides into an expanse of green and blue. That alone was limitless.
And with the awful realization that New York was a city after all and not a universe, the whole shining ediface that he had reared in his mind came crashing down.
That was the gift of Alfred Smith to the citizens of New York.”
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