I never usually carry a camera when visiting such important places, as I normally want to simply hold and enjoy the moment in my memory, but here's a satellite photo I managed to dig up.
Situated between Park Avenue and Lexington Avenue, the building sits on that part of 34th Street which begins a gradual descent into the East River, which I could see sparkling in the distance on a brisk sunny day, without a single cloud in a flawless blue sky. I counted about 18 floors to this rather non-descript red-brick block; Ayn Rand lived in Apartment 6G. Fortunately, however, I wasn't allowed to go any further than the green awning, which reached to the kerb, as a sign on the front of the building was quite clear about the point.
This is private property
I'm sure Ms Rand wouldn't have wanted it any other way. However, although I'm sure in every way that the apartments inside were luxurious, the red-brick façade was rather a disappointment. I had been expecting Roarkian brushed aluminium and glittering polished shards of armoured glass, a single fused point raised to the stars by Titans; but to find a slightly crumpled brick exterior and 18 bland storeys gathered together by the architectural genius of a wombat, was certainly less than I would have expected from the authoress of The Fountainhead.
But the position?
The position was everything. Just down the street from the Empire State Building, and less than 10 minutes walk from Grand Central, between Park Avenue and Lexington, this apartment building was exactly where Dagny Taggart would have chosen to pass out the hours between her trysts with all those innumerable lovers.
However, something else made up entirely for the disappointment of the building's appearance; the welcoming mat at the entrance, guarded by a suspicious looking doorman who kept his swivelled eyes pinned firmly towards this mad-eyed libertarian, bore the immortal words, 'The Murray Park'.
Now it was too much to beg that the building had been renamed in honour of the author of Mozart was a Red, but if you think the Statue of Liberty is the most ironic statue in the world, for this building, of all buildings, to be named The Murray Park, made it well worth the 45 minute walk back to my own apartment just off Times Square.
I'm sure the doorman was pleased too. I bet he's sick of people like me turning up, staring up, and looking like grinning baboons; another Rand fan or simply another New York lunatic? I hope they pay him more than ordinary doormen.
What didn't make up for it was learning back at my apartment that although Ayn Rand had spent many years at the block I'd just visited, dying there in 1982, she had actually written Atlas Shrugged at 36 East, 36th Street, a couple of blocks away; presumably when she had less cash in the bank.
But before I go there, I've got to get to the homes of Professors Mises and Rothbard, first. In my ordinal scale of values, the places where Human Action and Man, Economy, and State, were written, come a long way above Atlas Shrugged, though in the limited time I have in Manhattan the actual creation point of Atlas Shrugged still easily makes it into position three.
Sorry Ayn, to put it third, but at least I've been to the place where all your mad Objectivists spent all those years having sex with each other, smoking filtered cigarettes, and torturing mere humans with philosophical debate.
It just seems strange that there isn't any kind of monument outside, such as you would find in London. However, on reflection, with Manhattan being a beacon of private property, who wants to have a State nailing blue plaques to their buildings and putting up ugly statues outside quiet residences, anwyay? It'll only attract more nutcase libertarians like me, and who wants that? So Adieu 120 East 34th Street; Upper West Side here we come.