I was discussing the history of New York City with novelist and historian Peter Quinn recently and he said, “I rode on the Third Avenue El as a kid, but the city I write about is largely gone…the El, Penn Station, El Morocco…even Judge Crater!”
Peter continued, “When it comes to the city, like many New Yorkers, I’m a hopeless romantic…always pining for what was. Being raised in NYC, I feel I received an enormous gift. People travel all over the world to write in exotic places. But you grow up here in the boroughs…it’s like growing up in different worlds. The older I get, the more I’m struck by the drama of change that goes on around us. It’s a great gift for a novelist. You don’t have to search for drama…in New York…you just live it.”
As much as any other song, it feels as if New Yorkers’ Jerome Kern and Ira Gershwin’s “Long Ago and Far Away” evokes what’s been lost.
Photo by the wonderful Evelyn Hofer.