Horizon

City dwellers can have the world at their feet on the roof. I remember working on the top of our building in Washington Heights and scanning a vast panorama. Even on a hazy day, I could look south towards the Empire State Building, east towards the East River, west towards the Pallisades and Hudson river, and north towards Connecticut. If you were careful, you could kneel on the parapet and see all the activity in the streets below.
We usually kept the access to the roof locked. But in some buildings, the roof was populated with sunbathers, picnics, and an occasional party. If there was a fault in open access to this top of the world, it was the risk of the hatchway door slamming shut behind you and locking you out there. Then the loud calls for help and the pounding on the doorway would echo through the stairwell.
The territory of the roof was not all flat. It was interrupted by the protruding tops of firewalls, ventilation shafts, utility housing, and vents. Near the hatchway was the elevator house, which contained the cables and motors which loomed over the long elevator shaft that extended below the basement into a pit.
Cleaning the elevator pit was one of my assigned tasks when I got old enough. The lost bills and change were my loot for toy store expeditions. I was strictly forbidden from entering the elevator house. Even when locked out so the elevator could not operate, it was a dangerous part of the rooftop territory.
I saw a canyon view of the world most of the time. You could look down the sweep of Broadway bounded by tall structures, walk to the intersection, turn and see a similar vista. Sometimes you could see to the river. But to view an unimpeded horizon, you needed that perspective that was only available when you seemed to be on top of the world.

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