* * *
And I now know that buildings are not nameless. That the dazzling twin-towered buildings on Central Park West – the Century, the Majestic, the San Remo, the Beresford, the Eldorado – were all erected during the Great Depression on top of smaller handsome namesakes, old wealth pioneers of the upper grid two or three generations earlier. By the late 1920s, the name of the game had changed, the time had come to worship and appease new material gods. 80 years later, I float mesmerised on Central Park’s Lake below, oblivious to my kids’ antics. I now see it with absolute clarity. Gaudi’s descendants may still be labouring over the Sagrada Familia conceived at the same time back in Barcelona, but these buildings on the Park grew in the blink of an eye, America’s version of the same idea, living structures turned into secular cathedrals for the likes of Bono and Jobs, monstres sacrés whose quarters could be no other than these, boldly magnificent, awe inspiring Notre Dames on the Park.
My New York is grand and vain, like an endearing old lady hiding behind her grandchildren and scores of elegant scaffolding. Venice may be sinking, Istanbul spinning, Beijing rising, Rio dancing, London globalising, Paris greying, but New York who grew beautiful by mistake is aging with chaotic grace. Freed.