In the decade following its completion in 1909, New York's once-tallest building, the Metropolitan Life Insurance Tower, suffered a series of unfortunate mishaps. In rapid succession it was exposed to poisonous gases, submerged under twenty thousand feet of water, struck by the tail of a comet, and transported back in time to the pre-Columbian era. Each time, the building somehow emerged intact.
"Not a sign of life anywhere; not a sound; the forests growing thick among the ruins? A dead world if--if all the world is like this part of it! All dead, save you and me!"
In silence they stood there, striving to realize the full import of the catastrophe. And Stern, deep down in his heart, caught some glimmering insight of the future and was glad.
ON THE TOWER PLATFORM
Suddenly the girl started, rebelling against the evidence of her own senses, striving again to force upon herself the belief that, after all, it could not be so.
"No, no, no!" she cried. "This can't be true. It mustn't be. There's a mistake somewhere. This simply must be all an illusion, a dream!
"If the whole world's dead, how does it happen we're alive? How do we know it's dead? Can we see it all from here? Why, all we see is just a little segment of things. Perhaps if we could know the truth, loo
Only marred by some of the more blatant racist and sexist material; if you can overlook that, reading it as contemporary (i.e., 1911), it is fast and entertaining reading.
It's basically the Futurama story: a guy wakes up in a high-rise building, a thousand years in the future. (Luckily, so does his pretty stenographer.) And so far as they know, they're the only ones left. This is a fun, overwrought survival-and-scavenging story -- but also, because the two characters went to sleep around 1910, it's a fascinating window into the pre-atomic, pre-civil rights, pre-synthetics American mind. Maybe because the modern past is constantly held up against the future here, the core ideas of 1910 stand out in relief, in all their sexist, racist, great-man-theory glory. So it's interesting as sociology, though there are some passages that are a little hard to take.