On a recent visit to One Fifth Avenue to research my novel Archimedes’ Claw, I toured the premier residential skyscraper built in 1927. The Great Depression followed its erection beginning with the Stock Market crash of 1929. Many people lost their lives and their dreams as a result. Could this have come full circle in time?
Ever since I was a young man in New York City I have had a love affair with the architecture of this landmark. Here is what I observed:
Hauntingly beautiful she walked head up, shoulders back in proud humility. Pushing an old wheelchair, possibly scavenged from the lobby of a local hospital waiting room. Indeed it was marked with some partially scraped off bar code sticker giving unidentified capital letters followed by the barely readable word “Hos ital” on the right handle bar. It was weighed down heavily with the remnants of a once luxury suite of baggage with the classical trade mark Gucci inscribed everywhere.
Jet black hair flowed down her back almost to her waist and was patiently groomed. She had sheet white skin with long eyelashes and well done make-up, only her running mascara gave an indication of her recent tears.
She wore a new suede coat with sheep skin lining pulled tightly across her ample bodice suggesting perhaps the coat may have been acquired in haste or even stealth. She wore it open in the front, the buttons not reaching on the warn October day. Clearly she valued it and had no room in her luggage to keep it safe. The dress was black with a high neck and fit her well. The trailing hem was as a collection of overlapping black sheer banners that went to ankle length where her stylish outfit became an oxymoron due to the contrast of well worn New Balance walking shoes.
The homeless woman pulled a small white envelope out of her oversized purse and rechecked an address: One Fifth Avenue, NYC. The old invitation was yellow on the edges representing much elapsed time since written. Gilded with margins of gold it was as iconic as the art deco tower which she was attempting to enter.
Gently, with the class one would expect of the doorman of New York City’s prestigious residence, he patiently listened. The uniformed man comforted her with a gentile pat on the shoulder as he politely said no to her request. She turned away from him and began to march slowly behind her wheeled chair conveyance toward Washington Square Park and Greenwich Village.
One could only notice the fresh tear in her eye as she strolled away from the landmark building. The doorman stood at attention until she was out of sight.