Near the end of yesterday’s Writing New York lecture on E. B. White, Jane Jacobs, and Robert Moses (the last via Marshall Berman), I talked about the ways in which White’s account of New York, often taken to be a timeless statement about some of the city’s abiding qualities, is in fact very much marked by the context in which it was written — specifically, the aftermath of World War II. In the aftermath of the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, White realizes, all cities everywhere are now vulnerable:

The subtlest change in New York is something people don