TRAVELLING IMPRESSIONS - Extracts translated from German:
Prepared by numerous publications you set foot in Manhattan without being particularly surprised by the sight of the sky scrapers. The first car ride from pier 86 to the Pennsylvania hotel leads past a number of high buildings and less representative streets, as well as the kind of hustle and bustle we are also used to seeing in the bad neighbourhoods of European capitals.
The first really astonishing sight was the hotel, not the building despite its 22 floors, but its colossal operation, its 2200 rooms, all with bath and radio - the wireless, as was particularly stressed, and12 large and silent lifts. It is droll to see how all the men celubriously take off their hats when a lady enters the lift, only to put them back on as soon as the lady has left. The same happens in private homes, but not in stores. The fabulously orchestrated car traffic on the main roads made the second strong impression. What discipline! What authority do the wardens wield, who don’t seem to be executing studied and practiced movements but actually act responsibly and as reasonable citizens!
Pennsylvania Station and Grand Central Station are real gems of architecture. The traintracks run on two levels, the platforms are narrow and strictly technical like the subway stations. In Manhattan the rail tracks run underground, the locomotives are powered electrically and are exchanged once outside the city. Above the railtracks of Grand Central is the new store which is connected with the station. Isn’t something like this possible in Germany?
Extraordinary is the throng of pedestrians downtown at midday. A car can hardly pass through the ‘schluchtenartigen’ paths; even though many of the roads are only made of planks covering new subway tunnels. Downtown Manhattan would present itself as an ideal example of urban construction, were it not for a numbers of shadows, quite literally shadows! The shadows of Wallstreet, Hanover-, Cedar-, and Pinestreet appear fabulous to the visitor, but less so to those working here every day. On the lower floors even the window positions are dark. Everyone works in artifical light. While the artifical light constitutes a detriment to the offices, the air which is drawn down from high up through the ventilation system, and in the process cleaned and humidified, will certainly be better quality than the hot, sultry and dusty air from the street that would otherwise come in through the windows.
I didn’t see anything of the famous work-hard attitude of the Americans. Everything happens almost leisurely and without haste, and the typists chat here just as much as back home. There are even shoe polishers who come and polish the shoes of the employees during working hours! The idea of democracy is represented by the fact that the directors, called presidents, also have their desks in the communal offices and are addressed by their employees in an uninhibited and comradly manner, while smoking, for example.
To close my report I would like to point out how the way of building illustrates a number of virtues of the Americans from which one can only learn. The lack of stockades around their country houses shows for example that people are more peaceful and hold more respect for the property of others, and how they are less scared and distrustful. In the cities one simply leaves one’s mail on top of the overflowing post boxes. Would this be possible in Germany? Maybe it is, but we simply don’t dare!