The first day of autumn found me grid locked in Manhattan; where the wise leaders of the countries that compromise the United Nations, had gathered to discuss and debate the weighty issues that confront humanity today. It was a beautiful sunny day ideal for walking around in the city and the ladies spent the time shopping for shoes and outfits for the new season of course. The city was full of security and the cops were doing a valiant effort to keep the traffic moving; as the largest egos on the planet had arrived in droves, to make their mark in this modern age. A day later Obama addressed the statesmen and women gathered; on American principles and concerns, and his plan for the last days of his presidency, on the priorities that his administration would concentrate on. There was however no historic handshake; between the modern day Satan and his righteous decrieres.
As I waited for the avid shoppers to try out their new found treasures, I came across the Grand Central Terminal and realized it was its 100th anniversary. It was the largest terminal ever built at that time by Cornelius Vanderbilt who had made his fortune on oil and railroads, in the gilded age, of a century gone by. It marked the death of the steam engines; and the arrival of the electric trains, that would henceforth ferry millions in the modern city. It was also the pioneer in “air rights”; as Park Avenue was covered up and the soot and smoke that had engulfed the granite facades of the buildings, was gone forever. Instead they sold the land above the open rail lines to developers, and a new concept was born. People, who walk along Park Avenue or live or work in the expensive real estate, do not realize that beneath them are the arteries of a modern railroad system that stretch across the continent. Over 700 trains move below them daily, and have done so for over a hundred years. The Beau Art building is beautiful to behold; and was saved by Jackie Kennedy and a host of others, after the disastrous destruction of the old Penn Station, that had been another beautiful creation, of the railroad baron era.
A block away stands the Chrysler tower; another monument to the building of the skyscrapers, that came decades later. It was a race between it and the Empire State building being built at the same time, to become the tallest in the world. In the era of the depression to even conceive of such massive projects, boggles the mind; and it is a testimony to American engineering, and a legacy of those legendary risk takers, that such projects even came to be conceived, much less executed at the speed that they were done. Grand Central took almost 10 years (the trains were still kept running) to complete, while the Empire State was done in less than 18 months. The vertical city connected to the world had arrived; and humanity was free to imagine and build gigantic projects, without which today’s world would not be possible. Now the challenges are different in how to make these more energy efficient and how to use fewer resources to satisfy the needs of more people. Innovation and risk taking continue; as we see in the rise of the Freedom tower, and the even bolder project envisioned, for the build out of the last large rail road yards in the Midwest section of NYC. When complete it will be the largest project ever built in the city; and the visionaries live on, as the city continues to evolve.
So as I am between seasons and assignments the days pass in a leisurely manner and back in NJ the colors of the trees change and the last of the summer flowers bloom. The lake is peaceful and a pelican chased away a stork to find a place to fish as I took my morning smoke. There were twenty two geese gaggling on the water and I appropriately thought of two sitting ducks moniker[ from the games of chance played in bingo halls, across the retired countryside. The greatest generation has passed away and now the baby boomers are retiring, in tens of thousands per day. Obama care will start next week and will the promise of Social Security, Medicare keep them safe in the times to come, will depend on the innovation and growth from the next generation. The Republicans and Democrats will continue to squabble and the exalted leaders; will make long drawn out speeches, that represent nothing. Historic come backs like the America cup victory will enthrall us, and motivate us to ever more exacting standards. The race is never lost till you give up hope; instead go back and rejigger that boat and find the leader who will provide the bold strategy, which will help you sail with the power of the wind and currents to victory. Long as hope lives; we will not be found wanting to surmount the challenges that face us, no matter how impossible the task, or how monumental our labor.