National Geographic : 1964 Jul
Famed Empire State Building, spiring 1,472 feet above Fifth Avenue, makes pygmies of near by giants. Two million visitors a year ride its high-speed eleva tors to the 102d floor to view the city as a living map-an every day backdrop for the building's window washers (foldout). Limited in its ability to spread out, Manhattan took to the air and produced the most fantastic array of skyscrapers in the world. In recent years the biggest and costliest building boom in its history has changed New York's face at incredible pace. Gleaming pinnacles of steel and glass, aluminum and bronze, anchored in the underlying rock of narrow Manhattan Island, lend bold new credence to New York's proud title: America's mightiest city. KODACHROMEAND HS EKTACHROME(FOLDOUT) BY NATIONAL GEOGRAPHICPHOTOGRAPHER THOMAS NEBBIA © N.G.S. THIS PAGE FOLDS OUT Idaho, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, and Nevada together. America's premier city is the greatest hub of communi cations and transportation and the mightiest seat of commerce and finance on the globe. It is also the world's busiest center of manufacturing; the 1960 census lists Brooklyn alone as home to more factory workers than Pittsburgh and Detroit combined. To support its myriad enterprises, New York has the world's densest concentration of telephones and secre taries, of salesmen and psychiatrists. Its 60 major bridges, four automobile tunnels, and two dozen ferryboats link a monumental complex of parkways and expressways. (See the double U. S. Atlas Map, Greater New York and Tourist Manhattan, distributed with this issue.) Wilderness and Witchcraft Survive in City Thus this City of New York, home of the World's Fair of 1964-1965, vigorously reflects much of what is mightiest and most modern in America. In quieter fash ion it reflects even more. Parts of Queens are today as free of people and as calmly frequented by herons and egrets as the swamp primeval in the Florida Everglades. Nor does the magic city lack magic in the literal sense: dozens of women who claim the title of witch, and who can spawn hope or terror in thousands of hearts in Man hattan-as sorcerers do in Haiti and New Guinea. I dis covered, in short, that in surprising ways New York is not only America, but indeed the world. Until recently I was unaware of much of this, even though I landed in New York as an immigrant a quarter of a century ago and have lived there many years. My home has been in a quiet neighborhood called Elmhurst, in Queens, in a five-story apartment house that surprised my wife when I first took her there. "It reminds me of my little home town in Illinois," she said. "Everybody in the building seems to know everybody else." Typically well-disciplined New Yorker that I was, I never lost my temper while squeezing or being squeezed in and out of the subway. I read as much as I could of the Times, which on some Sundays weighs five pounds. In icy winter I'd browse in the hush of the gigantic read ing room of the New York Public Library at Fifth Avenue and 42d Street. In summer, on days not too hot and muggy, I might lunch on the sunny terrace of the minia ture zoo in Central Park. For close looks at life, and to get material for magazine articles, I traveled to Paris or Alaska, or to Laos or Brazil. "You've been taking this wonderful city of New York too much for granted," said my wife. She was right. This time I would look closely at life at my doorstep. I would start by finding out how the city strikes its visitors. Every year brings about 14 mil lion of them, according to the New York Convention and Visitors Bureau. Half come on business, the other half simply to look. "Vista fantcstica!" bellowed Mr. Carlos Martinez, a Colombian. He and his wife had just taken a helicopter Snow-blinded pedestrian struggles through Manhattan during last win ter's worst storm, a 14-inch fall. "East Side, West Side, all around the town" THOMAS NEBBIA (ABOVE, RIGHT) AND ALBERT MOLDVAY© N.G.S. Cargo nets swing at an East River pier of the Fulton Fish Market, as crewmen aboard the trawler Andrea G, out of Gloucester, Massa chusetts, unload their catch. The market, larg est seafood wholesaler in the eastern United States, handles 180 mil lion pounds a year. Beauteous show girls parade as caged birds on the stage of the Latin Quarter, a big Broad way nightclub.