Once, when visiting Manhattan, I stood on the roof of the Empire State building. It was dusk, and I could see in all directions. Wherever there wasn’t water, there were buildings. Incredible! With the tiny little fully encased exception of Central Park, everything was paved and built-over as far as the eye could see. And the eye could see for miles. I would not have believed it if I hadn’t seen it myself.
Driving from Pasadena to Irvine (Orange County) yesterday, I had to drive slowly. It was raining, so the traffic was backed up and I had to drive very very slow. I passed through neighborhood after neighborhood after commercial strip mall. Overpasses and exits and miles and miles of freeway. It occurred to me that the Los Angeles area is very populated and built up. It made me think of the view from the Empire State building. I wondered if L.A. had a tall building that could give a similar view. I thought of the Library tower, famous for being the first to get blown up by the Aliens in Independence Day.
Then I realized that the view of the L.A. basin is best seen from the mountains. I’d taken the Angeles Crest highway. and seen the whole thing.
But seeing the man made from a tall mountain is a totally different experience. The Empire State building is a man-made structure. Seeing all the man-made things from a man-made things takes your breath away. You realize how very much man can subdue nature.
But seeing man-made things from a mountain makes man-made things look small. The mountain will outlast us. Nature has patience with us, because we are not so very important in the big scheme of things.