Have We Lost Something?
I’m riding trains to work again. I once navigated the underworld network of trains in New York City. Every morning, living on the Lower East Side, I walked four blocks along Houston Street to the F train station, and then squeezed onto the F to W 4th Street. From there, I switched to either the C or E train, got out at 8th Avenue and 23rd Street, then walked fifteen minutes to my office on the old West Side Highway at West 28th Street.
I did that for a year. Now, from the sprawling suburb of Mount Laurel, New Jersey where I live, I drive south on 295 for ten minutes to the Woodcrest Station in Cherry Hill, board the train for the twenty-three minute ride through suburbia and Camden and across the Delaware into Philadelphia and then to the last stop on the Patco line at 16th and Locust Streets.
From there, I walk 25 steps to my office building.
My commute now from the suburbs to the big city is easy, stress free, and boring. There are no Hare Krishna’s softly drumming as they walk through the cars, no menacing-looking men warning about the evils of the world, no riding in the same car as Philip Glass and no jazz trios playing in the subway station.
But on my train ride into Philadelphia, as I cross the Delaware, I always look at the inconspicuous white tower and think about the long ago days when that tower of Independence Hall was once prominent against the Philadelphia sky.
It seems lost now, dwarfed by the steel skyscrapers of corporate America.