Evening is coming fast, and the tall frosted glasses in your hands make a thin but pleasant tinkling, and the great city is blazing there in your vision in its terrific frontal sweep and curtain of star-flung towers, now sown with the diamond pollen of a million lights, and the sun has set behind them, and the old red light of fading day is painted without heat or violence upon the river—and you see the boats, the tugs, the barges passing, and the winglike swoop of bridges with exultant joy—and the night has come, and there are ships there—there are ships—and a wild and intolerable longing in you that cannot utter.

The great vision of the city is living in your heart in all its enchanted colors just as it did when you were twelve years old and thought about it. You think that same glorious happiness of fortune, fame, and triumph will be yours at any minute, that you are about to take your place among great men and lovely women in a life more fortunate and happy than any you have ever known—that it is all here, somehow, waiting for you and only an inch away if you will touch it, only a word away if you will speak it, only a wall, a door, a stride from you if you only knew the place where you may enter.

– excerpted from Thomas Wolfe’s short story, No Door, originally published in
From Death to Morning, 1935, Charles Scribner’s Sons

Photography by Lewis Wickes Hine, 1924
Some of the young bootblacks working around Trinity Church, New York City.