The other night I was lying in bed half asleep when a realization came to me. It came to me like a dream, and the whole thing seemed very clear and simple, but, like a dream, when I woke it soon faded, and now the precise words fail me, and I have trouble writing it down, but I will do my best.
Overseas there are many great and beautiful cities, some of them ancient, some of them merely old. Rome, Paris, Venice, London, and countless others. America does not. America never will.
The reason America has none now is simple, we are too young.
There are several reasons why we never will. First, America is a disposable society. We love disposable things, they make life easier. And our buildings themselves have become disposable. When a building becomes run down, or has outlived it's usefulness we tear it down, and build a new building. There are a few buildings, or small areas of a town that are protected, but those are not enough, the buildings are not beautiful enough. America has no style of architecture, most of our protected buildings are made in the style of others, these beautiful cities in Europe. Our "early american" style will not last the ages, it is made of wood. Wood rots and burns, and it simply is not as magnificent or beautiful as the other cities. These great cities of the world are great things made of stone, made with incredible skill to last forever. American buildings are simply made to last for as long as they should.
This is why even in the future no one will come to America to see its "great cities." The future New York will be futuristic. It will probably looks somethign similar to the way it is portrayed in movies, a huge, glittering city of buildings that touch the sky. Everything will be new, except for maybe the cliche burnt-out, run-down, old industrial area. There will be no such things as "American ruins." No great ruins to rival those of the Greeks and Romans. American buildings are relatively flimsy things made mostly of metal beams, and glass, and sheetrock. So even if one day New York became ruins, they would not last the centuries to become great and ancient thinkgs. Metal rusts and falls apart, glass breaks. After a couple hundred years American ruins would consist of a few rusted steel beams pointing to the sky, and leaning at strange angles, all half buried in a pile of dust and sand. After another couple of centuries, nothing. But maybe these brief ruins would be considered beautiful by the people of the future, because it will be all they have. By that time the ancient ruins of the Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians will be gone, destroyed by acid rain. Even now these great monuments that have stood for thousands of years are rapidly dissappearing. You can return yearly and see the further damage, the erosion of these great things. So see them now people, before we destroy them all.