MICHELE NORRIS, Host:
NPR's Margot Adler recently got a tour.
MARGOT ADLER: I met him last Saturday in the pouring rain. No one showed up, but I took the tour anyway. He pointed out where Rand lived, where her publisher had an office, her favorite buildings, her favorite architect. He looks down Park Avenue.
NORRIS: Grand Central Terminal, that becomes the Taggart Terminal in "Atlas Shrugged," which means that the building there with the green mansard roof. That is the New York Central Building, so that becomes the Taggart Transcontinental Railroad Building.
ADLER: So we are standing in...
NORRIS: The lobby of what is now the Helmsley Building, but this building was built in 1927 as the headquarters of the New York Central Railroad.
ADLER: Back in the rain, Cookinham points out a bleak little alley. It's where Taggart's ramshackle office is located when she leaves her railroad company and builds the John Galt Line. He begins to read from the novel.
NORRIS: Right over there.
ADLER: The next day is unexpectedly beautiful. I go back on the tour, and there are people: Judi Chambers from Ontario, Kathy Bliss from California, and Zach Fivenson from Chicago.
NORRIS: I've just finished reading "Atlas Shrugged" six months ago. I couldn't put it down.
NORRIS: I attempted it once. I found it dated and dreadful, and I totally disagree with all of her political views.
NORRIS: I'm a huge Ayn Rand fan, and actually I do really, you know, believe in a lot of the Objectivist philosophy of, you know, individualism versus collectivism.
ADLER: Cookinham doesn't want to talk politics. Although he is a follower of Ayn Rand's philosophy, what he wants to emphasize for the tourists is history and literature.
NORRIS: They don't know that she lived in New York. They don't know that she came from Russia. They don't know that she was Jewish and her real name was Alisa Rosenbaum.
ADLER: Walking through Grand Central, we come to the tracks. Rand took a private tour of the railroad, even drove a train for her research. Some of the tracks are abandoned in the novel, given economic collapse. And somewhere on those abandoned tracks...
NORRIS: In some dark place, on a pile of burlap sacks, Dagny and Galt have their sex scene.
ADLER: Margot Adler, NPR News, New York.
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