‘My coming to New York had been a mistake…. I found only a sense of horror and oppression which threatened to master, paralyse, and annihilate me.’
Success and happiness were not to be.
Garish daylight shewed only squalor and alienage and the noxious elephantiasis of climbing, spreading stone… and the throngs of people that seethed through the flume-like streets were squat, swarthy strangers with hardened faces and narrow eyes, shrewd strangers without dreams and without kinship to the scenes about them.
Instead of the poems I had hoped for, there came only a shuddering blankness and ineffable loneliness; and I saw at last a fearful truth which no one had ever dared to breathe before—the unwhisperable secret of secrets—the fact that this city of stone and stridor is not a sentient perpetuation of Old New York as London is of Old London and Paris of Old Paris, but that it is in fact quite dead, its sprawling body imperfectly embalmed and infested with queer animate things which have nothing to do with it as it was in life.
– H. P. Lovecraft, ‘He’ (1925).