Babbitt HTML version

THE towers of Zenith aspired above the morning mist; austere
towers of steel and cement and limestone, sturdy as cliffs and
delicate as silver rods. They were neither citadels nor churches, but
frankly and beautifully office-buildings.
The mist took pity on the fretted structures of earlier
generations: the Post Office with its shingle-tortured mansard, the
red brick minarets of hulking old houses, factories with stingy and
sooted windows, wooden tenements colored like mud. The city
was full of such grotesqueries, but the clean towers were thrusting
them from the business center, and on the farther hills were shining
new houses, homes—they seemed—for laughter and tranquillity.
Over a concrete bridge fled a limousine of long sleek hood and
noiseless engine. These people in evening clothes were returning
from an all-night rehearsal of a Little Theater play, an artistic
adventure considerably illuminated by champagne. Below the
bridge curved a railroad, a maze of green and crimson lights. The
New York Flyer boomed past, and twenty lines of polished steel
leaped into the glare.
In one of the skyscrapers the wires of the Associated Press were
closing down. The telegraph operators wearily raised their
celluloid eye-shades after a night of talking with Paris and Peking.
Through the building crawled the scrubwomen, yawning, their old
shoes slapping. The dawn mist spun away. Cues of men with
lunch-boxes clumped toward the immensity of new factories,
sheets of glass and hollow tile, glittering shops where five
thousand men worked beneath one roof, pouring out the honest
wares that would be sold up the Euphrates and across the veldt.
The whistles rolled out in greeting a chorus cheerful as the April
dawn; the song of labor in a city built—it seemed—for giants.