Manhattan Innovation Story: Man at the Crossroads
#1 The roots: a tower or a factory?
"an ivory tower with a factory downstairs." NY times about Bell Labs
#2 GE | Rockefeller
Rockefeller was undoubtedly a master strategist. He could take a view of the system as a whole and assess the position of the individual parts. Yergin describes Rockefeller as “both strategist and supreme commander, directing his lieutenants to move with stealth and speed and with expert execution.” He was not averse to military metaphors, for example, justifying his secretive methods by wondering “what general of the Allies ever sends out a brass band in advance with orders to notify the enemy that on a certain day he will begin an attack.” Chernow describes him brooding over problems. Plans were “quietly matured plans over extended periods. Once he had made up his mind, however, he was no longer troubled by doubts and pursued his vision was undeviating faith.” But because his strategic success was the result of objectionable methods and in pursuit of retrograde aims, he could hardly be presented as the model for an aspiring businessman.
L. Freedman. Strategy: a History (p. 478). Oxford University Press. Kindle Edition.
Man at the Crossroads
Man, Controller of the Universe
Man labouring painfully with his own hands: living precariously and adventurously with courage fortitude and the indomitable, will to survive.
Man the creator and master of the tool. Strengthening the foundations and multiplying the comforts of his abiding place.
Man the master and servant of the machine, harnessing to his will the forces of the material world, mechanising labour and adding these to the promise of leisure.
Man’s ultimate destiny depends not on whether he can learn new lessons or make new discoveries and conquests, but on his acceptance of the lesson taught him close upon two thousand years ago.
#4 550 Madison Avenue
#3 590 Madison Avenue | AT&T | Sony | Chetrit
#5 GM | Apple Store
#6 The End
O Manhattan, isle of the gods, home to great happenings of metal, glass, and energy, island of sharp angles, summit of the world! Have not we all—rich and poor, producers and consumers, providers and provided for—been laboring for generations with all our might, under the direction of an unseen Engineer, to build the most magnificent city ever known to humankind?
We lay down more avenues, rule them straight, strive to get the proportions of their buildings right. We pour our lifeblood into the foundations of the skyscrapers, raising them ever higher: the Empire State Build-ing has added two stories in the last decade; the Twin Towers near the Battery will grow by half in the next century. Slowly, imper-ceptibly, we deepen the rivers encircling our island: the Hudson is twice the depth it was when glimpsed by the first white settlers. The East River would be, too, were it not for the toxic wastes we continuously dump into it, rendering our own efforts Sisyphean. Everything soars, rushes, accelerates: the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the rate of population growth, the bribes needed to flout municipal building codes, the hire of the whores, the price of pedigreed dogs, subway fares, real estate values. The bridges stretch farther and farther; the tunnels linking us to the heart of the continent grow deeper and deeper. The conical water tanks on the rooftops strain toward the heavens, pulling the buildings behind them as if to detach them from their foundations.
One day the subway cars will leap off their rails and plunge into the depths of the earth, severing the last cables that anchor the city to the ground. Our island will be torn loose, ripped from its rocky underpinnings; it will ascend into the sky and pierce it like a fast, shining bullet. The rivers will foam and cascade, immense tides pouring into the gaping wound. When calm returns, the quiet will be unearthly. Only large, low-flying seabirds will hover over the face of the depths.
The Ruined House, R. Namdar