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View from the Top



It’s not lonely at the top. People crowd everywhere and are somehow more pressing and incessant for not speaking English, the attendants in their grey sportcoats and red ties pointing and repeating themselves with exhausted detachment. All the bustle outside is concentrated in small spaces I don’t think were ever intended for such a crush.

On a mezzanine level before admission to the main observation deck, we are held to give breathing room for those up above. Art deco tilework is everywhere and displays explain the Depression-era planning and construction. It is preter-normal, only slight hints we are in a building more iconic than the WTC was. There is no sense of tremendous height.

Who has looked out this window, seated at a little desk with an adding machine? How did it feel during the gritty Forties, the racing Fifties, martini-laden Sixties, the graffiti and decline of the Seventies and Eighties? What would it have been like to grow old in front of this view, running the numbers, always the numbers. To look up and rub your eyes and see what you saw–was it ever just another view?

This quiet view is a gift. The window is just a window; it even opens. The thing it is a part of is the exception. It is the frame that makes what it seen.

Packed in

Packed in

The toppest

The toppest

The view (north to Central Park)

The view (north to Central Park)




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