New York City in Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged

The U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Saratoga (CVA-60) departs after a port call in New York City, 1956-1959. PHOTO CREDIT: U.S. Navy National Museum of Naval Aviation photo No. 2008.122.011. This photo is licensed under the the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

“This is the most expensive barroom in New York and it was built on the roof of a skyscraper.” 1

Ayn Rand’s New York City is the opening location of the expansive Atlas Shrugged, and sets the tone for the grim future of her society. The city is falling to ruins. The “skyscrapers looked like abandoned lighthouses sending feeble, dying signals out into an empty sea”, which is comparable to Dagny Taggert’s own frustrations with communicating to her fellow businessmen. Rand’s New York is bleak, dingy, and exists in a 1950’s era world of future times. A world where technology did not overthrow the railroads.

In the modern day New York City, walking, taxi cabs, and subways are the way to travel; not the railroad. Located at the opening of the Hudson River, New York City is a thriving, well-populated city, cultural hub, and significant trading port.

Read more about Ayn Rand’s New York on NPR. Find Atlas Shrugged at a local library or on Amazon.

1Rand, Ayn. Atlas Shrugged. New York: Random House, 1957. 27. Print.

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