New York is a philosophical city, a city of love and strife, of ruthless ambition and holy luck, of fluid social mobility and clotted social distinctions. Here there is refinement which is then papered over by the new nouveau riche. And there is always the new nouveau riche: the barbarians supplanting the decadents. A philosophical city, then, because it awakens thought about itself–its rhythms, its histories, its truths, its wounds–in the minds of those still bestirred by hope yet also repulsed by fate. It is a city unto itself and, like the monarch, it expects our fawning love, which we give so wryly in return.