The 1920s in New York

The former enemies in the Great War no longer posed a threat to the victors, the Allies. Empires were dissolved, boundaries settled and a fragile peace achieved. Yet, memories of wartime horrors still lingered on. As a sure means to obtain some sort of escapade people took the plunge into the abundance guaranteed by the flourishing economy. Nevertheless, in reality, they slumbered in a world of entertainment, jazz, first silent films, then talkies, prosperity and extravaganza. A war hero, who was forced to bring the ultimate sacrifice of leaving his love behind, disappeared for a time and returned to New York as a lavish gentleman. I decided to to join ‘this old sport’ to his magnificent mansion. I can not characterize the age of the Prohibition, the Roaring Twenties, the Jazz Age better than through the eyes of Jay Gatsby. West Egg, Long Island. If you have not seen one of his parties filled with frenetic energy, dynamic pulsing, dancers wriggling in ecstasy, champagne flowing from fountains, eye-popping fireworks you have not seen a thing. The cream of the crop of the high society was present: all the Fitzgeralds, the Wilders, the Hemingways, T.S. Eliots (wannabes), Hollywood celebrities: Chaplin, Emil Jannings, Douglas Fairbanks, and musicians, George Gershwin, Duke Ellington. A wonderful voice, who even later, at a very old age, firmly believed that “It’s a wonderful world”. Everybody, but the apple of Gatsby’s eye, Daisy Buchanan. There were nights we drove through the entire city.

We stopped at the Cotton Club, where we danced foxtrot, waltz and American tango. Then we drove some more and never stopped till we reached the Broadway.

The official opening ceremony of the Yankee stadium, home venue of the New York baseball team, in 1923 was the most exciting day of my life. Everybody was cheering for their beloved stars, like Babe Ruth. The stadium gave new wings to the team, which flew the sportsmen straight into the hall of fame. I felt like I was on a roller-coaster.

The Cyclone was built in 1927 and offered countless excitements to everyone on the board. Thrills kept coming, in a vortex of ups and downs, life speeded up, all sense of reality was gone. Take the plunge and keep your head within the car.
The more stringent the prohibition on alcoholic beverages turned the more creative thirsty people became finding newer and newer means to bootleg some more. Gatsby was on top, yet his obsession with money and wealth could not stop simply there. His world was fanatically spinning around the obscure object of desire, the Buchanan wife. Still, when confronted with two alternatives, two lives to choose from, Daisy backed down, opted for her previous tedious, monotonous and shallow life burdened with the consciousness that her husband would anytime cheat on her. Appearances like a mirror got splintered and true human nature was revealed. Gatsby, like a true protagonist of a tragedy found his downfall protecting what meant the most to him: his love and a world of delusions (do not confound these). The pompousness was a mere mirage, exuberance resulted from a twisted body of lies and patterns of criminal behaviour. The 20s collapsed like a house of cards. Soon the stock market crashed and people found themselves queuing in the streets for a job and a free hot cup of coffee.

At the beginning of the 20th century a frantic chase commenced to create ‘top’ facilities. Establishing a new world record in size was the thing man’s mind was spinning around back then. For a long time (11 months) it was the Chrysler Building (built between 1928-1930) that dominated the world from the point of view of tall buildings. With a height of 1,046 feet and built in modern Art Deco style she is located in the east side of Manhattan. She hosted, for over two decades, the headquarters of the Chrysler Group LLC, one of the illustrious American car manufacturers, though somehow they forgot to pay the architectural fees, and thus they never owned her. Throughout the years she changed many masters, yet one thing is for sure, among New Yorkers she is the most beloved building.

And since I mentioned the Chrysler Building I must not forget about a special address, 40 Wall Street, which during her existence hosted both successful and fraudulent companies. Now New Yorkers know her as the Trump Building (official name only after 1995). Parameters: 70 storeys, height: 927 feet. Throughout the years the building frequently changed her name. She started out as the Bank of Manhattan Trust Building, then she became the Manhattan Company Building and later the Chase Manhattan Bank. In 1946 a plane crashed into her due to poor sight obstructed by a fog. There were five casualties, all of them were passengers. After a business fraud in the 80s, 40 Wall Street was ‘saved’ by her contemporary owner, Donald Trump, who modestly named the building after himself. He stated that he purchased her for 1 million$, but it is worth 600 million$.