I think often of the people who lived here then, and of the ones who came here under orders. Individual humans rasp against immovable history and it wears us into shapes. How brave they all were, I think of that. I try to imagine coming here to shoot and be shot at, or living in New York when it was besieged and burning. I try to imagine deciding that the best thing to do was to appease an army of occupation, or to let go of New York and march away. What would it be like to decide that the best course of action was to leave your cannon behind and just go? What would it be like to wake your children in the night, and leave for Canada?
People in the US have short historical memories. The past does not touch us every day, not unless we go looking for it. We have to work to make New York an exception. I wonder what they would think, to see the city as I do, as I cross the Verazzano from Staten Island. Would they see the upraised alien beauty? How many people for every dot of light?