A Great Big City

E. B. White's Striking 1949 Prediction Resembles The Events of September 11th

Written by Patrick deHahn

Elwyn Brooks White, known as E.B. White, was an American writer most recognized for Charlotte’s Web and Stuart Little. Before passing in 1985, he was a constant contributor to the New Yorker and a co-writer for the English language style guide The Elements of Style with William Strunk Jr.

While pursuing his writing career in New York, White wrote a 1949 essay on the city in Here is New York, which contains a very interesting excerpt that resembles the attacks the city suffered on September 11th:

The subtlest change in New York is something people don’t speak much about but that is in everyone’s mind. The city, for the first time in its long history, is destructible. A single flight of planes no bigger than a wedge of geese can quickly end this island fantasy, burn the towers, crumble the bridges, turn the underground passages into lethal chambers, cremate the millions. The intimation of mortality is part of New York now: in the sound of jets overhead, in the black headlines of the latest edition.

The 58 page essay also touches on the way of life in New York City and how the city grows and changes. Even though the essay was written in 1949, the essay is still relatable to the city today. It is an intelligent and intriguing short read full of great quotes.

Available on Amazon.com

Patrick deHahn is an aspiring journalist studying in New York City. Follow Patrick at @patrickdehahn on Twitter and patrickdehahn on Tumblr.
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