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4. Developments during the 20th century

4.1 Economy

4.1.1 The Wall Street Crash and the Great Depression

During the 1920s the American economy expanded rapidly. New manufacturing methods, new materials, and new sources of power brought about leaps in production. Beginning in 1927, the Great Bull Market became a sign of prosperity among millions of people. The interest in buying stocks increased among private investors. Since most investors didn't have enough resources, they borrowed part of their investment capitals from brokers. If the stock happened to rise within a few weeks, the broker and the investor would both profit. If the price of the stock declined, and it finally did, investors had to sell quickly, in order to cut their losses.

Starting in 1929, most people could not afford to buy everything that business could produce. The cutbacks in production began in the Spring of 1929, several months before the Stock Market crashed. Numerous businesses refused to invest their money or expand their production. These and some other factors contributed to the gradual decline in economic and financial strength.

As the decade reached its conclusion, the economy had slightly improved. As Hoover inaugurated his presidency, he posed a symbol for America. Even though he was called Prophet of Prosperity, the Stock Market collapsed and Hoover spent the rest of his presidency fighting the problems of unemployment and the declining economy in general.

In October 1929 the Stock Market crashed, ruining the lives of millions. It pushed the country into a deep and lasting depression. President Hoover took various measures to cope with the economic collapse, but his efforts proved insufficient to rescue the nation. In 1932 voters expressed their dissatisfaction with Hoover and their eagerness for change.

At the depth of The Depression, in 1933, one American worker in every four was out of a job. The great industrial collapse continued throughout the 1930s, weakening the economic strength even more. Depressed were industrial sectors like agriculture, coal mining, railroads, and textiles. In addition, technology had eliminated more industrial jobs than it had created; the supply of goods continued to exceed demand. In the four years from 1929 to 1932 approximately 11,000 U.S. banks failed, and about $2 billion in deposits "disappeared". The Gross National Product (GNP), that had in the past grown at an Average Annual Rate of 3.5%, declined at a rate of over 10% annually. Agriculture suffered from The Depression as well, farm prices fell by 53% from 1929 to 1932.

In March 1933, following New York lobbying, President Roosevelt was inaugurated and stood ready to deal with the economic breakdown. The New Deal was introduced by him, to bring about relief and recovery and later the reform of the economic disaster. Some of the New Deal programs were unsuccessful, while others brought long-lasting effects. The massive military expenditures for the Second World War provided the economic stimulus that finally ended The Depression in the United States.

Following the end of the Second World War there was mass-migration from Europe, headed for a new life notably in California, New York, Florida, Texas and Illinois.

4.1.2 The Prohibition

In addition to the Great Depression, the era of Prohibition was introduced, lasting from 1920 until 1933. The 18th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution forbade the manufacture, sale, and transportation of alcoholic beverages.

Prohibitionists, who viewed alcohol as a dangerous drug that destroyed lives and disrupted families and communities, argued that it was the government's responsibility to free citizens from the temptation of consuming liquor.

Even before 1920, several states had enacted Prohibition Laws, but most were repealed afterwards. In 1919 the 18th Amendment was enacted, after the Prohibition parties had pressed for state and local restrictions. During the period of Prohibition, illegal saloons were established also in New York City, and smuggling flourished throughout the country.

In 1933, the 21st Amendment was enacted, repealing the 18th, although it was retained in some areas.

4.2 Background to the Interwar Period and its Problems

Numerous events and historic milestones took place in the 1920s. The decade combined brief golden moments as well as disasters towards the end. The early years were troubled by fear of revolution, a wavering economy and tensions of the returning peacetime conditions. The U.S. armed forces had established an army of approximately 4 million men, who all returned home to find themselves unemployed. Agriculture suffered too, now that the war had ceased and European agriculture had recovered. War had also meant a wide production of warfare goods, that were then unnecessary for the economy. Strikes occurred almost every day, as factories closed down, resulting in a growth of unemployment. Consequently, the country's mood changed from tolerance to fear and hatred, mainly focusing on immigrants and a newly developing Communism. Negative opinions about foreigners continued to exist, despite government efforts aimed at terrorist operations through imprisonment and even executions.

The situation of African-Americans had not changed to the positive either. Most of them slid deeper into poverty than before. Discrimination against African-Americans had been transferred to foreigners during the 1920s. In New York, Marcus Garvey founded an organization to help African-Americans. He claimed, that African-Americans should return to their native Africa, since he saw no future for them in the United States. His organization collapsed, as he exploited African-American communities, though his ideas remained and formed a new racial pride. The number of Spanish-speaking Americans increased, resulting in discrimination from fellow-Americans in all aspects of their lives.

4.3 Culture

4.3.1 Music: From Jazz to Swing

Most African-American people emphasized their race during the 1920s. The new negro stood in the center of the cultural activities, that swept the African- American community. The time is also referred to as the Black Renaissance, making progress in major cities (like New Orleans and New York). Its center was Harlem. Great authors and poets confronted Separatism and worked on literature, that united black and white.

The music of the Harlem Renaissance tended more to African traditions, than to American or European influences. Jazz, the new trend in music, developed. The mixture of African and West Indian rhythms originated in New Orleans and was usually played with brass instruments by African-American artists. The Harlem Renaissance brought jazz to national attention. The Jazz Age is noted for the first jazz musical comedy Shuffle Along, followed by Running Wild. The Harlem Renaissance developed a group of talented African-Americans, thus establishing pride and self-confidence among the members of the black population of the United States.

Dominant in the 1930s and much of the 1940s was Swing, though its prominence faded by 1945. Its instrumental sections, forming steady beats, made Swing a very popular dance music, that was mostly played by large bands.

4.3.2 Musicals and Opera

Today, New York's involvement in culture is reflected in one of the most famous streets, The Broadway. Not conforming to the street pattern of Manhattan, The Broadway starts at the southern tip of the Manhattan Island and runs northward 25 km through all of the Manhattan and Bronx boroughs. Theaters were originally located on or near Broadway, even in the early years, though all commercial theaters are now situated between 42nd Street and 53rd Street, including Times Square.

Times Square and Broadway

Times Square and Broadway

Times Square

Times Square

Times Square was the focus of theatrical events until the 1930s, when talking motion pictures ended the boom. As television developed, many of the theaters became broadcasting studios. After striking various other set-backs, Broadway grew to be the center of action again in the late 1980s and it still resembles that today.

There are about forty theaters around that area, mostly visited by tourists. Of course, those are not New York's sole theaters; there are about 15 off-Broadway and approximately 250 off-off-Broadway theaters, usually not frequented by visitors, rather more by New York's artists and "insiders". Most of the time, musicals are presented, playing a vital role in New York's cultural attractions. The most noted musicals staged in New York were Cats (1982), Phantom of the Opera, West Side Story (1957), My Fair Lady (1956).

New York has two major opera companies and a number of smaller companies which only give occasional performances. The two principal opera-houses are part of The Lincoln Center. The famous Metropolitan Opera House is the most frequented of all Opera Houses in New York. During the Season, lasting from end of September until April, The Met puts on seven performances every week. The New York City Opera, unlike The Met, features mostly American compositions and does not feature great international stars.

4.3.3 Art

New York City is a major focus of many of the world's cultural and artistic events. It is the site of several world-famous art museums: the Frick Collection, the Guggenheim Museum, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York contains a wide variety of other museums, including the American Museum of Natural History, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Whitney Museum of American Art.

Paris was the center of the art world until the outbreak of World War II. Then, many of the distinguished French, German, and Italian artists fled to the United States. Thus the American art scene was enriched by its merging with European artists, and New York developed into an art center in the post-war years. Since then, modern art has dominated and many prominent artists have worked there.

In the late 1930s, Hans Hofmann arrived in New York from Munich and became an influential exponent of Modernist theory. From 1939 to 1941 a number of well-known European artists emigrated to escape the war in Europe, making New York City a center of avant-garde activity and spreading the European Modernist art theory, psychology, and philosophy.

During the 1940s, Abstract Expressionism originated in New York city. Among the number of avant-garde artists was Jackson Pollock. He was a central figure of American Abstract Expressionism, creating a blend of violently emotional and anarchic art. He perfected new techniques of application, dripping paint from cans and pouring and hurling paint onto unstretched canvases placed on the floor, demonstrated in Full Fathom Five. He is noted for having opened new boundaries of texture, line, and expression. During the period from 1947 to 1950 Abstract Expressionism developed in full, so that it dominated the New York City art scene by the late 1950s.

Originating in New York City in the 1960s, Minimal Art, a movement in sculpture, opposed the expressive Modern Art of the 1950s. The constructions -made out of plastic, steel, and concrete - express the impersonal, not signifying any particular objective. The artists emphasized physical appearance, instead of creating subjective content. Extending Minimal Art, outdoor sculptures, also known as Earthworks, overwhelmed New York in the mid 1960s. At the same time, Conceptual Art developed, concentrating on the concept of an artist, rather than the complete production. It used photographic and verbal materials to communicate with the spectator.

The art of the 1970s was characterized by diversity and by abstractions. There was little difference in the art of the 1980s, when more conservative ideas stepped into the foreground. Neo-Expressionism gradually developed, as young artists increasingly expressed their disapproval of certain aspects of Society. Their art was characterized by forceful, gestural brushstrokes, jolting color, and distortion of forms. Since then, noted artists have been involved in New York's "every day life", such as Keith Haring.

During his wavering career, he depicted the complicated Present, mainly the powerful evolution of technology. As he expressed his deepest concerns in his modern graffiti paintings, Haring combined the gradual diminution of Mankind and the immense machinery that rules life today. His paintings and most of his murals cannot only be seen in New York's subway, but also on New York buildings and in various foreign countries. Technology is not the only issue he dealt with. Racial and ethnic problems, consumerism and AIDS played a vital role in his work. AIDS, a repulsive issue, "has stepped out of the underground" through his artistic involvement. Since he himself was infected, and finally died as a result of it, Haring expressed his displeasure with Society not accepting the reality of AIDS.

His paintings can be easily identified. Most of the time, Haring used either paint or graffiti to simply draw the outlines of figures, which made up his artistic works. Elements of his art included gadgets, like TV sets, spaceships, as well as animals and monsters. Some of his more "personal" pictures focus on the masculine organ located around the waist. When utilizing it, it was often given a personality, a separate being. When not particularly doing that, Haring used the organ as an item, to object to reckless usage and unprotected nature. The homosexuality represented in his drawings can either be seen by clearly defined outlines or by figures marked with crosses, symbolizing their "distinction". Before dying in 1990, he reached the epilogue of his "book". As he said himself in 1989, this finale was essential.

"If you're writing a story you can sort of ramble on and go in a lot of directions at once, but when you are getting to the end of the story, you have to start pointing all the things towards one thing. That's the point that I'm at now, not knowing where it stops but knowing how important it is to do it now. The whole thing is getting much more articulate. In a way it's really liberating."Celant, Germano: Keith Haring. Munich: Prestel Publishing House, 1992, p. 120.

During his artistic career, Haring accomplished his goal.

4.3.4 Architecture

Skyscraper architecture is America's original contribution to the history of this form of art. No major city in the United States can be regarded as having its own unique taste and style. Most of them show similarities. The skyline of the average city has a Downtown, a Midtown and an Uptown area. Skyscrapers concentrate mostly in the Midtown area, since most commercial activities take place there. Because of its geological foundation, New York's skyscrapers focus in the Midtown, as well as in the lower part of the Downtown area.

Manhattan's Skyscrapers

Manhattan at Night

Skyline of Manhattan

Manhattan's Skyscrapers

The first attempts at constructing buildings several stories high took place in Philadelphia in the 1850s. The development of the elevator played a vital role in the inevitable construction of these huge buildings. New York City grew to be the center of skyscraper design, though Chicago developed even faster. It served as the testing ground for architects during the 1870s, when several commercial buildings needed to be replaced after The Big Fire. Skyscrapers show a basic resemblance to the classic Greek column, consisting of a base, a shaft and a capital.

At the beginning of the 20th century, New York announced the construction of the world's tallest building, the Woolworth Building. It was erected between 1909-1913 by the architect Cass Gilbert for Frank Winfield Woolworth, who founded the 5-and-10-Cent-Store chain. In all, the building cost $13.5 million, which Woolworth paid in cash. The 241m technological monument, containing 60 stories and 28 high-speed-elevators, remained the tallest building until 1930, when the Empire State Building was erected.

The Woolworth Building

The Empire State Building is still the principle emblem and landmark of New York. It was built between 1930-31 on Fifth Avenue and remained the tallest building in the world until 1971. Its original height of 381m was increased to 449m by the erection of TV antennas in 1950. Its swift construction resulted from employing thousands of workers in the Great Depression. During that time, little of the 200,500 sq. meters of rentable space was leased and its existence relied on tourism. In all, the building cost $41 million, though its structure was not regarded as very innovative.

The Empire State Building

The Empire State Building

The Empire State Building's claim as being the tallest building in the world ended during the 1970s, when the World Trade Center was erected. That center consists of two structurally similar skyscrapers, also called The Twins. It was built between 1968 and 1973 costing about $750 million. Each of the towers is 411m high, having 110 stories which made them the highest buildings in the world until 1974, when the Sears Tower in Chicago was constructed (being 2 meters higher). In all, they comprise 1.2 million sq. meters of office space. A problem faced during their construction, namely wind turbulence, was solved by an architectural technique. The tube-like steel frame consists of numerous cubes from top to bottom, that make the buildings' structure very solid. Controversial aspects were and still are the enormous consumption of energy, the towers' location, size and design.

The World Trade Center

The World Trade Center

The World Trade Center, as seen from the Brooklyn Bridge

Of course, New York's architecture does not only consist of skyscrapers. Its topographical location, including a river estuary, demands an elaborate infrastructure. Leading to and from New York are 4 tunnels and 16 bridges, including some of today's architectural wonders.

The Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridge

The Brooklyn Bridge, built between 1869 and 1883, was the first great suspension bridge in the United States. It is about 500m long and carries 6 traffic lanes.

The Brooklyn Bridge

The Brooklyn Bridge

Another famous bridge is the George Washington Bridge, twice as long as the Brooklyn Bridge. It was finished in 1931, though a second deck was added in 1959. In all, it carries 14 traffic lanes on both decks and cost $248 million.

4.3.5 Sights

Part of New York's fame is certainly based on the numerous sensations it offers: museums, art galleries, theaters, parks, malls and millions of people. Its diversity makes sightseeing a challenge. The city cannot be explored in just one week or in a month; it takes years. Tourists concentrate on the Mid-town area, since it is not only the most popular, but also the safest area in New York.

The most frequently visited sites in Lower Manhattan are Chinatown, Ellis Island, the New York Stock Exchange, the famous Statue of Liberty and the World Trade Center.

Chinatown, the largest Chinese community outside China, is occupied by tens of thousands of Chinese Americans. The area, located around Canal St., is packed with restaurants, foodshops, gift shops and cheap electronic stores.

Ellis Island, located near the Statue of Liberty, was the main entry point for immigrants between 1892 and 1924. Museums portray the events during that time, depicting the lives of the nearly 1.3 million immigrants. The island can be reached by the Circle Line, one of the ferries departing from Battery Park.

The New York Stock Exchange, the largest in the United States, is the most crowded of the sites in Manhattan. It is located on Wall Street, the symbol of America's financial world. The Stock Exchange includes the Commodity Exchange, which is not accessible to visitors. The Stock Exchange's museum can be visited free of charge, including a peek into one of the halls, loaded with screaming brokers.

The New York Stock Exchange

Located on Liberty Island, is the famous Statue of Liberty, the symbol of New York and America. It was originally a gift from France, presented after the American Revolution. Housed in the base of the largest statue of modern times, is the Museum of Immigration. The statue is 46m high and weighs about 225 tons, standing on a base of 47m in height. The elevator is only used for emergencies. All visitors must climb up the spiral staircase to reach the crown of the "Lady".

The Statue of Liberty

The Statue of Liberty

The World Trade Center is popular for its Observation Deck on the 107th floor and the Promenade on the 110th floor. Only one of the twin towers is open to visitors, the other one is used for broadcasting facilities. Although criticized in many ways, the Center is crucial for New York and numerous suburbs around it. When one of the buildings was bombed by terrorists in 1993, no public television could be broadcast for some hours.

Midtown Manhattan, the center of the city, is noted for the American Museum of Natural History, Central Park, the Empire State Building, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Rockefeller Center and the United Nations Headquarters.

The American Museum of Natural History is New York's oldest museum, founded in 1869. The exhibitions presented, portray the cultures of South, Middle and North America, such as the Aztecs and Mayas, as well as the history of Africa. Other displays deal with biology, geology and other educational subjects. The museum is equipped with its own planetarium, a library and research laboratories.

With an area of 340 ha, Central Park is the largest Park in Manhattan. The idea of a "lung" in New York City was put forward in the 1840s, as a compensation for the rapidly growing city. Central Park was then created between 1859 and 1870. Because of Manhattan's geological conditions, lots of rock had to be removed and 10 million wagon-loads of soil were conveyed into the city. Several streets cross Central Park, connecting East and West, although they are closed at certain times on weekends. At night, the park is usually avoided by most people, since the park is not only a source of recreation, but also one of crime.

Central Park and the Metropolitan Museum

In Central Park

The Empire State Building is one of the world's tallest office buildings, open to the public. Two observation decks are available to visitors, one on the 86th floor and the other on the 102nd floor. One of the Empire State Building's attractions is the white illumination of the thirty top floors all year round. On special occasions and celebrations, the illumination is even in color: red, white and blue for national holidays; green for St. Patrick's Day; yellow and white for Easter; yellow and red for Halloween; blue and white for Steuben Day in November. The Guinness World of Records is a museum located in the building. It exhibits unusual achievements and statistics, using models and video films, recorded in the Guinness Book of Records.

One of the greatest museums of the world is the Metropolitan Museum of Art, located on the edge of Central Park, across from the German Cultural Center, the Goethe Institute. Only part of the museum's holdings can be displayed in the 300 galleries. Most of the materials presented are gifts, enriching the diversity of the museum. Among the collections are Egyptian, Greek and Roman artifacts; Near Eastern art and antiques; European and Oriental paintings and sculptures; arms and armor; musical instruments; ancient glass; and pieces of European and American decorative art.

The Metropolitan Museum

One other noted museum is the Museum of Modern Art, which displays, in contrast to the Metropolitan Museum, paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints, photographs, architectural models and plans, design objects, films and videotapes of the 20th century. The Museum is equipped with two cinemas and a garden decorated with modern sculptures.

The Rockefeller Center consists of 21 high-rise office buildings. It also houses about 10ha of shops and restaurants and is considered to be the largest complex in the world. The Rockefeller Center includes the Radio City Music Hall, television studios of NBC and several exhibition halls.

The Rockefeller Center

The Rockefeller Center

Radio City Music Hall

Having its headquarters in the center of New York City, the United Nations certainly influences New York, not only architecturally but also socially. The complex does not only include the 39-story glass and marble Secretariat Building, located on East River. The headquarters also encompasses the Conference Building, the General Assembly Building the U.N. Plaza Hotel, the U.N. Extension and the Dag Hammarskjold Library. Adjacent to the complex is a garden, furnished with gifts from several member nations.

The United Nations

The United Nations

Uptown Manhattan is, mainly because of Harlem and the crime around that area, not very popular with visitors. The main attraction is the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in 89th St. It differs from all other museums in New York in its architectural style. Frank Lloyd Wright, who was commissioned for its construction, thought of the museum as a single large room on a continues floor. A spiral staircase of 430m advances from the bottom of the museum to the top. Paintings and sculptures are displayed along the ramp; the free space in the center of the museum is used for the exhibition of large sculptures. Besides the permanent exhibits, the museum displays art of the late 19th and early 20th century.

The Guggenheim Museum

4.4 Literature

Any topic can be well depicted by literature, portraying positive, negative and critical aspects. American literature particularly reflects criticism, not only of the United States, but of other nations as well. Some of the major themes dealt with and partially delineated are for instance, the American Dream, the Frontier Spirit and the American Nightmare.

4.4.1 A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

Betty Smith's A Tree Grows In Brooklyn most accurately describes the circumstances under which the greater part of New York's population lived during the beginning of the 20th century. A topic that is covered in connection with the characters' history, is the American Dream.

Center of this novel is Frances for whom a growing tree stands as a symbol. She, her brother Neeley, her mother Kate Nolan and her father John Nolan live in a poor neighborhood in Brooklyn, struggling to survive. The family has no steady income, since John Nolan does not have a regular job. He relies on the Union, like most of the poverty-stricken at that time, and sometimes works as a singing waiter. The financial problems oftentimes lead to a temporary cash-shortage in the family, but somehow they manage to get through. A great burden, not only for the finances, but also for Kate's, Frances' and Neeley's life is John's addiction to alcohol. Tips given to him are immediately redeemed for liquor. His alcoholic obsession eventually leads to his death, just before World War I.

John was a "lady-killer" all of his life. Kate first met John when she was 17 years old. She worked in the Castle Braid Factory at that time with her best girlfriend Hildy, whom John was almost engaged to. Both Kate and Hildy were deeply in love with John, though he eventually decided to marry Kate. The Nolan family came from Ireland in the 19th century. The American Dream had not exactly become reality for them, but emigrating from Ireland had at least brought them to a slightly better state of living. John had had three brothers, though they all died before their 30th birthday. John barely made it to 40.

Kate is the only other source for the family's income. Cleaning apartments in the neighborhood, she earns enough money to compensate John's frequent "pass-outs". After his death, Kate manages the entire apartment house and thus works off her rent. Kate is the center of attraction, especially after John's death. She has a very close relationship with her sisters, supporting each other in rough times, not only financially, but also psychologically.

Kate's family also wanted to experience the American Dream, and came to the United States in the 19th century. Kate's father immigrated from Austria, hating his home country but dreading his new land. He neither had a personal relationship nor any interest in his family.

"His philosophy about children was simple and profitable: a man enjoyed himself begetting them, put in as little money and effort into their upbringing as was possible, and then put them to work earning money for the father as soon as they got into their teens."Smith, Betty: A Tree Grows In Brooklyn. New York: HarperPerennial, 1992, p. 55.

Mr. Rommely's wife, Mary, Francie's grandmother, is an uneducated but very wise lady. Sissy and Evy, Kate's sisters along with Mary, all live in the neighborhood of Brooklyn.

Francie's life in Brooklyn is easy at first. Before entering school, she enjoys numerous hours reading on the small balcony of the Nolan's apartment. Francie loves reading, sinking into her deepest dreams, letting her imagination thrive. Even though Francie is a year older than Neeley, they both enter the first grade at the same time, supposedly for helping each other. Francie looks forward to school, though her dreams are shattered, as school turns out to be intolerant and divided between prosperity and poverty. By bending the law somewhat, she manages to be transferred to another, more pleasant school, located in another district of Brooklyn. Francie soon finds pleasure in writing stories. She imagines, she might even publish a book one day, in the future. Those dreams are again shattered, as the contents of her writing is criticized. In the English teacher's eyes, stories are not to express current situations, in this case social decay. They are to verbalize dreams and inner most desires. In

general Francie is disappointed and dissatisfied with school and her life so far. When John dies, life seems to become unbearable and empty. Francie assumes, that Kate favors Neeley, whereas John stood on her side. After his death, Francie and Neeley help increasing the family's budget. Still one hope for the future cannot be fulfilled. Kate, having come from an uneducated family and therefor not able to apply for a well-paid position, desires for Neeley and Francie to both graduate from pre-school, high school and finally college. Now, without the necessary assets, only one of the two children can be supported. Without thinking twice, Kate decides to give Neeley that opportunity. Francie's dream is again wrecked. Even though Francie wishes to go and Neeley doesn't, Kate wouldn't change her mind. In her opinion, Francie, having the better grades in school, might annex later on, though Neeley couldn't possibly.

Francie is the family's sole financial support, receiving $20 a week. Her ability to read gets her a position in the Press Clipping Bureau. Life goes on, until the United States becomes too involved in war. Francie loses her position and retreats to an ordinary factory-like job, still in Manhattan.

Life in misery finally ends, when a retired police official becomes her stepfather and takes over John's position. Being well off in his retirement and with additional resources, the Nolans can move out of their shabby old apartment into a wealthier neighborhood. Francie's foremost dream eventually reaches the ear of the Beholder. She is able to attend a college after all, having sacrificed part of her youth to work and to support her family.

This novel clearly shows the setbacks, usual in poverty and dreams that are shattered because of a lack of financial support. Francie is fortunate at last, though luck is not an element that life holds in stock for everyone. Dreams and imaginations are none of those elements either. They stimulate but do not work wonders. It is more important to keep ones feet on the ground, instead of reaching out for apparitions. Reality is the most dreadful enemy today and will be even more terrifying in the future.

4.4.2 The Great Gatsby by Scott Fitzgerald

In contrast to A Tree Grows In Brooklyn, which describes a larger part of New York's population during the 1920s, stands F. Scott Fitzgerald's most acclaimed novel The Great Gatsby. Narrated by Nick Carraway, a character similar to that of Fitzgerald, the plot takes place during the Jazz Age, in the 1920s. Center of the story is Jay Gatsby, a prosperous man, who shows off his wealth by frequently hosting glamorous parties. He does not attend any of his social activities, though numerous uninvited folks do. Nick joins Gatsby's parties to meet the obscure man. A friendship seems to develop, although it is very superficial. Nick is to arrange a meeting between Gatsby and Daisy. She is Nick's second cousin, married to Tom Buchanan, although she had been promised to Gatsby before the First World War.

After several dates, Daisy and Gatsby grow quite close again. The relationship reaches its climax, as on one of the following hot days Gatsby, Nick, Tom, Daisy and Jordan, a woman living with Daisy and Tom, take a ride to New York, where they rent a suite to cool off. As the conversation between them develops, accusations against one another originate. Gatsby's standpoint is that Daisy never loved Tom. Daisy is caught in the middle of Tom's and Gatsby's indictments, not allowing herself to take sides. Gatsby is accused of handling drugs and alcohol, which supposedly enriched his wealth. Not being able to deal with the situation, Tom promises to improve his intimate relation with Daisy though Gatsby and she leave as the threatening conversation reaches its climax.

They drive off in Gatsby's yellow car and Daisy drives. As the yellow car approaches Wilson's garage, Myrtle, Tom's mistress, runs out into the street, apparently attempting to stop the passersby. Daisy runs Myrtle over and escapes in the yellow car. An African-American later reports having seen a yellow car, one that Mr. Wilson, Myrtle's husband, knows only too well. Trying to cover up the act and protect his beloved Daisy, Gatsby loads all the charges on himself while Tom and Daisy depart from the city without leaving a forwarding address.

Before any further investigation can take place, Wilson, blinded by the brutal "hit and run" act, takes revenge for the murder of his wife. Wilson penetrates into Gatsby's property, and as he lies near the pool, shoots Gatsby. Shortly afterwards he pulls the trigger again, killing himself.

Nick, as Gatsby's only friend, arranges for the funeral, although no one attends it, except for him, Gatsby's father and one other former party guest. Nick soon after decides to leave for the West again, finding life in the East unbearable.

Nick, having had in mind to work in the bond business to reach a certain social level, soon learns of the "rich foulness" surrounding New York's wealthiest during that time. The novel clearly shows the blankness of the Jazz Age's rich population and their ethics.

"In the protagonist, Jay Gatsby, Fitzgerald effectively embodies a romantic idealism that is sustained and destroyed by the intensity of his own dreams."Eble, Kenneth: The Great Gatsby. Grolier Electronic Publishing, Inc., 1992.

4.4.3 Black Out by Jack Gregory

Contrary to The Great Gatsby and A Tree Grows In Brooklyn, contemporary literature focuses on domestic issues. Crime is the most talked, written about and filmed topic of our times. As New York is the center for everything, it poses for the crime issue as well. In stories like Black Out and In Deep, the New York Police Department is the crime fighting organ, investigating unusual and stunning incidents. Written by Jack Gregory, these stories originate from the NBC TV series Law & Order. Black Out depicts several issues that are dominant in New York: homelessness and wealth; success and deceit; the rich and the poor. All these issues are dealt with in this story.

Detectives Cerreta and Logan investigate the murder of a homeless woman, around sixty, found buried under some rubble on a construction site. At the murder site, they discover not only the normally curious, but also a well-organized group of demonstrators of FACE-IT as well. The old building, which was once occupied by homeless, has already been torn down, for a new building to be constructed, precisely the act that FACE-IT protests against. As the investigation continues, the two detectives obtain a good character profile of Mary, the homeless victim. She referred to herself as Queen Mary, therefor spreading a very snobbish image. Dissimilar to other homeless persons, Mary had a way of neatly organizing her room in the Avery building, her last residence. As the two detectives inspect her room, fingerprints are found all over it, belonging to one of the demonstrators, Mr. Grisham. The second significant piece of evidence is an old photograph of a woman riding on a horse, representing Mary in her thirties.

As detective Stone takes a look at the only picture that Cerreta and Logan located, he realizes that it was taken at the Thorngate Riding Academy. Soon after, Cerreta and Logan discover Mary's real identity, namely Arthur Stillman's wife. Arthur Stillman is the owner of numerous buildings all over New York, including the real estate, where Mary was found. Stillman is saddened by the news and denies any involvement in her recent death. He admits to having seen her a couple of times, especially when Mary needed a few dollars. Their conversations were kept short and Mary never wished to see their daughter, Elizabeth.

Visiting Mary's psychiatrist, Cerreta and Logan are informed about Mary's behavior. Mary suffered from disorders and seemed likely to be distracted and disassociated from the happenings around her.

The two detectives shortly afterwards pay Byron McCready, Mary's brother, a visit. He acts surprised and saddened by her recent murder, but also claims that he has had no contact with her for the last twenty years, although Edna, Byron's house maid conceded to having seen Byron and Mary together several times.

From the attorney, who represented Janet McCready, mother of Byron and Mary, the two detectives learn, that a great deal of money has been circulating within the family. It was divided into three equal shares when Janet died. Byron received a share, which he invested in art shops, since he himself was a painter. Elizabeth, Mary's daughter, received the second share. Because Mary's whereabouts were unknown at that time, her share was put in escrow; according to the terms of Janet's Will. Within ten years, Mary had the chance to claim her inheritance. If it could be proven that Mary was deceased before that time, the inheritance would go over to Byron. If Mary did not die within the ten year period, nor withdraw her share, the money would go to a foundation. In just about one month, the ten year period was to end, giving Cerreta and Logan reason enough to suppose, that Byron killed his sister for her share. Byron's standings with his creditors suggest the same.

During the trial, witnesses on the one hand indicate Byron's involvement in Mary's homicide, on the other hand, an alibi is established. As Byron testifies, it is pointed out that he is homosexual and was with his partner on the night of the murder. Since Mary's death, her share is his at last, through no intentional act of his.

During the trial, a construction worker finds an iron pipe, buried under damaged wooden forms at the construction site. Examining the pipe, which was used to kill Mary, the two detectives find Grisham's fingerprints. When Cerreta and Logan locate Grisham during another demonstration, he is read all the charges. During an interrogation, he confesses to the murder, claiming that Mary was one of "the rich". The irony of her living on the streets made him kill her in cold blood.

Although Grisham confessed, Amy Schumacher defends him and succeeds in proving him innocent, because of mental distortion. He is to be transferred to a minimum security mental hospital. The expert lawyer, who worked with Amy Schumacher in the background during the trial, turns out to be Mary's daughter, Elizabeth. Mary's indifference towards her is now revenged in the trial.

4.4.4 Hackers by David Bischoff

One side of crime is physical abuse, murder and terrorist acts. Another side can be much more complicated, as it concerns several issues, like money laundering, tax frauds and numerous computer deceits. The last of these is discussed in David Bischoff's Hackers. Taking place in New York City, the story deals with a group of teenagers, solving a mystery which involves computer fraud. The contents of Hackers requires a very modern, "state of the art" world. As presumed in the story, everything is connected to computers, even a simple traffic light. Of course that is not the case worldwide. Hackers are heard of, breaking into NASA computers and stealing secret, not public information. As such crimes develop, certain measures are taken to protect against such incidents.

Dade Murphy, an 18-year-old hacker, who has just moved from Seattle to New York, adjusts to his new environment by hacking through the night, invading the NBC network. At school, Dade, also identified by his computer identity "Zero Cool", meets "Phantom Phreak", "Cereal Killer" and Kate Libby, fellow- hackers. Immediately Dade falls in love with Kate. In order to get closer to her, Dade hacks into the school computer, changing his schedule to coincide with that of Kate.

"Phantom Phreak" is the king of NYNEX (New York New England Telephone Company) hoaxes, owning a device that manipulates the telephone in order to place free calls and orders under credit card numbers not belonging to him.

Joey Hardcastle, an amateur hacker without an identity, tries to get into the "inner circle" of the hackers. To accomplish the entrance examination, Joey needs to prove that he is able to pull off a major hack. With that in mind, he calls Ellingston Mineral, a very prosperous oil company, via modem. The main computer is accessible by a password; for Joey a very common one, used by most hosts. Seeking for something useful on the main frame, Joey finally finds a garbage file. In the course of downloading it, Hal, a system operator at Ellingston Mineral, contacts "The Plague", the supervisor of the computer department. "The Plague", Eugene Belford, traces the call and successfully finds out Joey's number.

As an Ellingston Mineral tanker sails towards the coastal oil refinery, suddenly an alarm sounds and the tanker begins to leak. The computer "goes nuts" and prints "WHOOPS" continuously on the screen.

Next day, Joey joins the hacker gang at Cyberdelia, an "action" caf‰. He tells them about his experience, hacking into Ellingston Mineral, though nobody believes him. Back at his house, he is arrested by Secret Service agents for planting a virus on the Gibson computer used at Ellingston and thereby being responsible for the oil leakage.

Vice President Margo Wallace, Belford and other Chief Executing Officers discuss the spill and the virus supposedly uploaded by Joey. In a private conversation between Margo and Belford, he reveals that he caused the virus, without Margo's knowledge. The two are partners in a joint-venture. Belford wrote a program, "a worm", that can subtract certain amounts of money from every transaction that Ellingston Mineral makes. Thus, Margo and Belford would soon have over $25 million, and at the same time, a good life! The virus, written by Belford, makes "the worm" untraceable.

Joey, not quiet conscious of the fact that he had committed a crime, is questioned by the Secret Service. Next day, Dade meets Belford and the Secret Service in his apartment. Dade is threatened and forced to spy on the other hackers, to locate the garbage file of Ellingston Mineral.

Soon after Joey is released on probation. Meeting "Phantom Phreak" in Central Park, he gives him a disk containing the garbage file. Unfortunately, the Secret Service follows them while they're together and as he wakes up the next morning, the Secret Service is right on time to arrest him. In jail he has the opportunity to call Kate, to tell her about the hidden disk. Soon after, Dade receives a phone call from Belford and is ordered to obtain the disk immediately.

"Cereal Killer" and Kate then drop by Dade's house, asking him to read the file, but Dade refuses, since the chance of being caught is too high. He makes a copy of it anyway and turns that one over to Belford. The hackers meet at Kate's house, where the mysterious file is then read. The plan is to hack the Gibson computer again, to download the second half of the garbage file. Meanwhile, Belford launches the "da Vinci" virus, thereby rendering his untraceable worm program.

Kate contacts a few of her friends, to help in their risky operation. Next day, as Dade, Kate, "Cereal Killer" and "Lord Nikon" are followed by the Secret Service, they pull a traffic "scam" on them, in order to gain more time. Joey waits at Grand Central Station, occupying a whole row of phone booths, necessary for their operation. As the gang arrives, they all hook up their lap-tops and start calling the Ellingston Mineral network. Belford, expecting that approach, has weapons of his own, thus making the hackers' efforts to browse through the system very difficult; after all, they will only have 5 minutes.

Dade and Joey finally find the garbage file and while downloading it, the Secret Service "invades" Grand Central Terminal. After quickly hiding the two disks in a garbage can, the boys are arrested by the Secret Service, along with the rest of the gang. As Dade is forced to get into the police car, he secretly tells "Cereal Killer", who has remained outside Grand Central terminal the whole time, where the disks can be found. After the information is passed on to ABC, Margo Wallace is convicted of her crime, Belford on the other hand escapes, taking the next plane to Japan using a false identity.

4.4.5 New York City from A Cab Driver's View by Clever da Silva

A different aspect of American life is depicted in a recent publication: New York City from A Cab Driver's View by Clever da Silva. The book contains several short stories, experienced by a cab driver, who immigrated from Brazil. Clever da Silva received the "Cabby of the Month", an award given by the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey and the New York Taxi & Limousine Commission. Clever's experiences as a cab driver range from humorous to sad, from riotous to pleasant and from delightful to chaotic.

The chapter, entitled The Big Star Players, retells the story of four basketball players, who arrive at Penn Station, seeking a ride to Madison Square Garden. The first thing one should know is, that Penn Station and Madison Square Garden are both located in the same building. After picking up the four stars, da Silva, astounded by their request, drives them around Penn Station, whereafter they stop at the starting point of their taxi trip. Angry at first, but insincere at last, the four stars pay their fare and leave the car.

The Hot Dog Dog story involves the unintentional carelessness of an old New Yorker lady with her dog. As she enters the cab, her dog's tail is caught in the door, cutting it off. Da Silva, disturbed by the woman's stupidity drives to an animal hospital with the frightened lady and the panic stricken dog. The trip costs $50, including the $40 which are taken to cover the car wash, needed to clean the blood-covered interior.

Da Silva's most pleasant story carries the title The Best Tip. "Tip" is the magic word for a cab driver, making almost everything possible. As da Silva is asked to quickly bring some executive to La Guardia, he first refuses, since the cab has to be brought back to the garage. Eventually accepting the trip, on the condition that it ends near his garage and not at the airport, he starts the trip. Halfway to the garage, the customer persuades da Silva to drive to La Guardia, in return for a good tip. As the conversation develops between them, the client enters a bet offered by Clever over 25 cents. Da Silva insists that he is clever, whereas the businessman jokingly doubts that. Conclusively, da Silva shows his Identity Card, revealing his name, Clever da Silva. Arriving at the airport, he receives a $20 tip. In his opinion, it was the most gratifying fare ever.

The most disturbing story of all, The Blond Angel (From Hell), reflects the ordinary clich‰, expected from New York. As Da Silva drives home in his cab, he is halted by a blond, in his opinion a very beautiful woman somewhat over 20. Stunned by her beauty and her deadly smile, he gives in to her begging for a lift. She demands more than an ordinary customer; stopping at a deli and even riding in the front seat. As she asks him to take her to a parking lot, where she supposedly left her car, da Silva is at last confronted with her last demand. It turns out that she is a professional thief, insisting on da Silva's hard earned money, more than $200. As he refuses, she opens the window, ripping open her blouse and screaming for help. Eventually da Silva turns over his cash and ironically receives $10 from the "lady" for the fare.

Compared to the other literature presented, da Silva's thoroughly true stories give a very clear and accurate picture of New York City and its inhabitants.

4.5 Politics

4.5.1 Immigration

During the period of 200 years following Manhattan's first settlement, the population developed slowly, so that at the beginning of the 18th century, New York consisted of not more than 5000 inhabitants. In the following century, the population increased to almost 70,000.

The figures reached a climax at the beginning of the 19th century. New York's population passed "the million mark", making the city the largest one in the United States. During the years before the First World War, most immigrants came from Germany, Ireland, Italy, Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary. The steady growth soon overpopulated New York, so that in 1924 laws were passed, temporarily restraining the mass immigration.

The numbers of immigrants intensified before and after the Second World War, as numerous Europeans sought refuge in America. At that time, not only Europeans, but also Hispanics from Central and South America immigrated. Today, more than one million Puerto Ricans live in New York, more than in Puerto Rica's capital San Juan. The third major migration wave came from the poor Southern States of the USA. Most unemployed African-Americans from those areas moved northward to more industrialized cities, including New York. New York's population today is one quarter African-American.

It is apparent, that New York is divided into several quarters, housing the different ethnic groups. The most prominent of these are the Chinese population, concentrating in Chinatown, Italians in Little Italy and African-Americans in Harlem. Minor groups are spread across other quarters, like Germans, Hungarians and Czechs, who reside in East Side; Poles and Ukrainians, who populate East Village and Latin Americans inhabiting the Barrio. Other foreign communities dominate the other boroughs, like Arabs and Norwegians in Brooklyn; Greeks and Colombians in Queens.

During the 19th century, these foreign communities developed their own unique infrastructure; restaurants, shops and churches are reminiscent of their home countries.

On the one hand, the United States has always been an "Immigrant Nation". On the other hand, several voices spread concern about the United States becoming too controversial and a big "melting pot of nations". Peter Brimelow, running for President in 1996, recently published a disputed book, Alien Nation. It mostly deals with the critical issue of U.S. immigration laws and prospective ways of tightening them. One of his concerns is the growing immigration waves coming from South and Central America along with increasing Asian immigration. In his book he writes:

"Race is destiny in American politics. It is simply common sense that they have a right to insist that their government stop shifting in. Indeed, it seems to me that they have a right to insist that it be shifted back."Morganthau, Tom: Fear of an 'Immigrant Nation'. Newsweek, May 8, 1995, p. 48. Review of Brimelow, Peter: Alien Nation. Random House, 1995.

In fact, illegal immigration hit the country decades ago. At least 500,000 persons enter the United States with Tourist Visas, planning to stay forever. Will the United States be torn apart by the alarming numbers of immigrants? In his book, Brimelow compares the country with the former Yugoslavia, breaking apart because of interfering interests, religions and origins. If immigration laws are not changed, so Brimelow believes, the United States will fall as fast as it rose.

4.5.2 The United Nation

Established after the Second World War with its headquarters in New York City, the United Nations was to ensure peace and collaboration between its 51 member states.

"The main purposes of the organization were to "save succeeding generations from the scourge of war"."Stoessinger, John G.: The United Nations. Grolier Electronic Publishing, Inc., 1992.

Over the past 50 years, the number of member countries has risen to 185 and is still increasing annually. Even after tumultuous changes during the existence of the U.N., it remains the largest effective organization, focusing on world peace, as well as on social, environmental, cultural and humanitarian problems. It has divided into numerous sub-organizations - some of the most important ones being the United Nations Educational, Scientific, And Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Bank.

"The United Nations, to me, does not represent a vague ideal of universal peace and brotherhood which has its appeal only to starry-eyed idealists and moralists. Far from it. It is hard-headed, enlightened self-interest, the stake that all humanity has in peace and progress and, most important of all, survival, that dictates the need for the United Nations as a practical, institutional embodiment of the need of nations on a shrinking planet, as a potent and dynamic instrument at the service of all nations, east and west, north as well as south."Thant, U. (Secretary-General of the UN 1961-1972): Excerpt from the speech delivered at Johns Hopkins University on December 2, 1962.

The existence of the United Nations has never been as controversial as it is now. Its bureaucracy, overpaid employees and little progress have raised the question if the UN's future existence is justifiable. Numerous countries have neglected to pay the annual fee for years, including the United States. Of the 185 member states, fewer than 10 control the very existence of the one and only organization, where even "enemies" meet and talk in peace. Responsible for the maintenance of peace is the Security Counsel, having 15 members. Five of them are permanent, namely China, France, Russia, Great Britain and the United States. Despite thoughts about reducing the number of employees, two countries, Germany and Japan, are under-represented and seek participation in the Security Council.

As the economy suffers deeply in every country at this time, the UN also faces difficulties and its future does not look bright. A few organizations are no longer supported monetarily, mainly from the United States. These vast cutbacks result in dismissals of hundreds of UN officials. The United Nations is gradually drifting towards complete bankruptcy. Some recent reforms, including the inspection of every organization, are planned to save the United Nations from total destruction.

The organization's competency and efficiency is largely at stake. In a recent humanitarian conflict, chiefly dealing with the freedom of certain countries' populations, this is again proven. Freedom House, the United States' oldest and most respected organization on Human Rights, has published a rather distressing report, criticizing several countries, namely Cuba, China, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Sudan, Swaziland and Tunisia for supposedly violating Human Rights. The application of Freedom House to the United Nations for participation in discussions, was rejected. The reasons behind this rejection were the countries listed in the annual report as "not free".

At this point in time it can be shown, that this organization that represents 185 countries has enormous difficulties, surviving under today's afflictions. The differences, namely demands and political interests between the member nations are too broad to compensate in just one organization.

4.5.3 New York City: Money and Influence

New York City has certainly earned its reputation not only by architectural wonders or cultural displays, but more importantly by being the "showplace" for the world's finance markets. The New York Stock Exchange, the American Stock Exchange and several Commodity Exchanges, located in the Finance District around Wall Street, play a vital role in keeping New York's prominence in the world. Within the past 30 years, New York's importance hasn't changed much, though more than 40 major U.S. companies have left the City, in search of more inexpensive rental spaces in the suburbs. Still, about 100 companies have their headquarters in New York, among them the largest banks: Chase Manhattan Bank, Manufacturers Hanover Trust, Chemical Bank; the largest life insurance company: Metropolitan Life; and other multinational companies, like American Express, Merill Lynch and Dow Jones.

Some of the most noted department stores are located in Manhattan, including Macy's, Abraham and Strauss, Saks Fifth Avenue and Bloomingdale's. Most electronic stores are located on Fifth Avenue around 42nd Street and in Chinatown. Most inexperienced tourists focus on the apparently cheap shops in those areas, unfortunately in several cases with great disappointment. Most of the electronic stores retail inoperative and stolen goods. The retailers count on the visitors not trying the merchandise right away, but instead taking it home first. Although many travel agencies and airlines warn of the unpleasant incidents, tourists seem attracted by the low prices. Of course, New York offers a variety of honest retailers, for example the number one electronics store Radio Shack and Nobody Beats The Wiz. Therefore, New York is known as the largest and relatively cheapest shopping city in the world.

As millions of tourists crowd into New York each year, they particularly look forward to spending their assets.

"Tourists come to Time Square filled with the desire to spend money and there's no place to do it. They actually spend less than they brought." Adler, Jerry: Theme Cities. Newsweek, September 25, 1995, p. 44.

New concepts have been introduced, to create a more enjoyable city for its inhabitants, but more importantly for its visitors. "Themed entertainment" districts with CityWalks are gaining the interest of the public. To develop a friendlier, safer and more colorful environment in an urban city like New York, plans have been developed by Disney to renovate an area around the Rockefeller Center. It seems that New York, heavily criticized for being too unfriendly to its tourists, seeks a way to increase one of its most important sources of income, tourism.

Financial institutions, other than banks and stock exchanges, are located in New York. The Hungarian-born George Soros, who owns a funding corporation, is one of the City's financial geniuses. He managed to make a career in economics in New York, although he originally studied philosophy. His wealth is based on years of speculation and still, at the age of 64, he gambles with his millions, investing in Stocks, Bonds and Currencies. During the steady increase of his capital, he has suffered few lows. The only hard pounding down was the $600 million, that he lost in 1994, as he worked on the Japanese Yen. However, before the end of the year, his speculations "earned" him enough money to cover the deficit.

Having relatively little demands as a billionaire, he uses small portions of his income to help Eastern European countries to rise to a more Western standard, with funding of more than $300 million a year. He does not only focus on Eastern Europe, but on South African development programs as well. As the Eastern Bloc opened to the West, he helped 30,000 top scientists of Russia, by funding their work for one year. His funding programs are also concentrated in the United States to reform drug laws and similar issues.

"Soros' money can also be more effective than government aid programs. Government aid, by its nature, is intended to help the giver more than the receiver. Nearly half the roughly $1 billion in technical assistance provided to Eastern Europe by the 12-nation European Union, for example, is tied to consultancy contracts that pay as much as $1,200 a day to Western economists. The same goes for U.S. aid. Government programs, Soros says, "are not doing a good job at all. My money is intended for the recipient, and I can focus on areas where I think I can make a contribution." "Jackson, James O.: Master Giver. Time, July 10, 1995, p. 42.

4.6 Some Prominent New Yorkers

New York is an interesting city without a doubt, which is why numerous prominent personalities have chosen to live there.

A famous American industrialist, John Davison Rockefeller, is a very significant person in the history of the United States. Born in Richford, New York in 1839, he attended a public school in Cleveland, Ohio. After working as a bookkeeper, at the age of 16, he soon cooperated with a petroleum oil producer. In 1870 Rockefeller founded the Standard Oil Company, a revision of his former cooperator's organization. Within the next two years, Rockefeller bought most of his competitor's oil refineries and finally dominated the oil market in the United States.

At the peak of his wealth, Rockefeller was very involved in social activities. Several foundations supported research and humanitarian developments not only in the United States, but also in developing countries, like India, Mexico, Pakistan and various African nations. His foundations included the General Education Board and the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research. At the age of 98, Rockefeller died in Florida, leaving behind enormous assets.

A center of film activity has been established in New York, which is probably the most important one on the East Coast. As it developed, several talented actors progressed in the film making business. One of the most noted award winning stars is Robert De Niro.

Born in 1943, he lived in Little Italy, because of his Italian background. His career as an actor began, after he appeared several times on stage in school plays. Robert de Niro left school with 16 to concentrate solely on his career. In 1964 he starred in The Wedding Party, his first movie, followed in 1973 by Mean Streets, a film about life in Little Italy. Thus his name became well known. Martin Scorsese, director of Mean Streets, continued working with Robert De Niro, producing movies like Taxi Driver; New York, New York; Raging Bull; The King of Comedy; Good Fellas; Cape Fear and Casino.

Scorsese, an acclaimed film director, is also a native New Yorker, born in Flushing, Queens. His films emphasize character rather than plot. That is particularly obvious in all Scorsese movies starring Robert De Niro. New York has not only been the scene for Scorsese films, but for almost all De Niro films as well. It is very typical, that the main characters have a very broad and sophisticated background.

Today Robert de Niro is considered one of the best actor and has been nominated for the Oscar four times. He actually won twice, one for Raging Bull and the other for The Godfather, Part II. During the past years, De Niro has put great effort into creating a center for New York's film stars. In his latest movie, A Bronx Tale, he not only plays the role of the family father, but also acts as producer and director. De Niro now works on creating his own movie scripts, hoping to produce them in the near future.

Countless legendary Jazz and Folk musicians, poets and entertainers have lived and performed in New York. For example Woody Allan, Maya Angelou, Johnny Mathis and many others who started their career in a club, called Village Vanguard, a shabby basement in Manhattan. In February, 1995, it celebrated its 60th birthday, reliving old memories, when the club was opened by Max Gordon. Peter Seeger, born in New York, 1919, is a state-of-the-art American folk singer, composer and song collector. He and his music group, the Weavers, participated in the Village Vanguard's vibes in 1949. The Weavers were popular and very successful at that time. They recorded more than 50 albums and frequently appeared on television and in concerts. Visitors from all over the world come to be stimulated by the memories the Village Vanguard offers. Many great music idols of the past played in that basement room, leaving behind the history of New York's Jazz and Folk age.

New York is a major showplace for prominence in general and those who actually feel like sitting on top of the world in New York and have the necessary assets, own an apartment, a penthouse or a building there. Many people believe, that one cannot be a global personality without a presence in a major city, like New York.