Time to spill the truth. The first completed manuscript of this book, or what we presumed to be the completed one, originally had been contracted for publication in the late 1960s. But no. The feet of the initial publisher, like Lewis Carroll's wrinkled "Little Birds" introducing our final chapter, had regrettably turned "pale with sudden cold." The reason given was blunt and craven: The time was no longer right. New York City had entered what looked to be a prolonged season in socioeconomic hell, worsened by a relentless battering in the media. The city teetered on bankruptcy, crime was shooting to an all-time high. Even the serene groves of academe had come under assault, as militant students faced off police from the shattered windows of Columbia University. In response, tourists were giving Manhattan a wide berth. So who, the retreating publisher frowned, would want to buy a book about the historic joys of living in a city now in limbo?