Jonathan Mechanic was gazing at the sweeping view from the 22nd floor of One New York Plaza, a skyscraper at the southern tip of Manhattan. In the twilight down below, a frenetic New York scene played out, as boats trundled every which way across the harbour and helicopters zipped to and from landing pads on the East River. Mechanic was focused on the buildings. To New York’s uber real estate lawyer, each was its own saga, with reversals of fortunes, convoluted deals and colourful characters. Lots of heroes, not many villains. “I can tell you the history of the buildings: who sold it to who, who financed it, when it traded, who the major tenant was, when they left, why they left, who the new guy coming in was,” he said.
Then he began to do so. “Seventeen State Street?” Mechanic said, glancing at the cylindrical tower just outside his