A Mighty City Trembles at a Global Crossroad


It was both shocking and thrilling, at first, that you could catch a Eurostar from a platform in London, slide under the English Channel, hurtle through the French countryside and less than three hours later pull into the Gare du Nord in Paris. To ride the Eurostar was to marvel that the capitals — London so prosaic and straightforward, Paris so romantic and mysterious, the two with their long history of rivalry and discord — were part of the same larger enterprise.

Eurostar symbolized an era in which London seemed to be inevitably rushing toward Europe, too. At least that was the idea until now, and the beginning of the process known as Brexit. The trains are still running, but the era that created modern London appears to be over.

“We’ve made a horrible statement to the rest of the world, and it’s very sad,” said Martin Eden, a publisher waiting to catch the Eurostar to Paris the other day, to celebrate his 43rd birthday. “We should be moving together,” he said of Europe, “instead of moving apart.”

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