The Valley – Searching for the future in the most American city

Phoenix makes you keenly aware of human artifice—its ingenuity and its fragility. The American lust for new things and new ideas, good and bad ones, is most palpable here in the West, but the dynamo that generates all the microchip factories and battery plants and downtown high-rises and master-planned suburbs runs so high that it suggests its own oblivion. New Yorkers and Chicagoans don’t wonder how long their cities will go on existing, but in Phoenix in August, when the heat has broken 110 degrees for a month straight, the desert golf courses and urban freeways give this civilization an air of impermanence, like a mirage composed of sheer hubris, and a surprising number of inhabitants begin to brood on its disappearance.

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