Jut out into the most domesticated body of salt water in the Western hemisphere, the great wet barnyard of Long Island Sound.

from F. Scott Fitzgerald – The Great Gatsby (Chapter I) on Rap Genius

Meaning

New York: The Cultural Center of the Western Hemisphere

Even in the 1920’s, New York set trends for the rest of America to follow. What started in Manhattan spread across the country in the years to come. Long Island Sound — more specifically, the land surrounding it, was–and is–a place for social and cultural experimentation, a “wet barnyard”. The world of business was centered upon Wall Street and its affiliations. Here, people made money, lost money, and took great risks in the bond market, rearranging the previously set social strata. Moreover, it was a place where the American Dream was seemingly within reach. People from different backgrounds and cultures also found their place in this crowded world. Blacks, in some cases, were even treated as equals, a social revolution almost unheard of a few years before.

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