Welcome To America

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Some remembered that when the legal man at Ellis Island finished his hurried inquisition, he looked up, offered his hand, and said, “Welcome to America.” Immigrants have recounted this part of their saga with eloquent shrugs, implying, “Who could have predicted all that happened since?” After a night at the theater on Second Avenue, the newcomers returning on foot to their tenements, or taking subways and trolleys to Williamsburg, Harlem, or the Bronx, or the lucky few allrightniks in cabs or cars going uptown to Riverside Drive might have reminded themselves of the legal man’s greeting—the opening lines of one of the greatest dramas, comic, pathetic, and tragic by turns, in life as onstage, ever played out on this city’s streets. America had spoken the tremendous words “In the beginning.”