Novel New York
by Jessica Allen, 04/01/2014
"Forever" (2003), Pete Hamill • The Woolworth Building photo by Marley White
In this novel by Pete Hamill, the fate of the main character and the city he inhabits are utterly intertwined: Cormac O'Connor can live forever if and only if he never leaves the island of Manhattan. Through his eyes, New York changes from a provincial backwater (he arrives in 1740) into the indefatigable juggernaut of 2001. The character's first residence is located on Cortlandt Street, the future site of the World Trade Center. Later, he helps construct the Woolworth Building, which was the tallest building in the world from 1913 to 1930. Speaking of lofty steel structures, you can learn about the evolution of the skyscraper at the aptly named Skyscraper Museum. If you'd rather hang out where the greats once dined, grab a seat at Fraunces Tavern, where George Washington held many a banquet and even gave a farewell address to his troops in 1783. Since the novel explores the role of indentured Irish and African slaves in the United States, you should be sure to visit the African Burial Ground National Monument, which preserves the remains of more than 400 Africans who were buried there in the 17th and 18th centuries.