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One late-August morning, I met former New York governor Eliot Spitzer at Hudson Yards, the lavishly subsidized $25 billion real-estate development that will one day house Facebook offices, investment funds, and the pharmaceutical firm Pfizer. I found him at the base of an unfinished skyscraper, where a marketing banner draped across the scaffolding read RESET EXPECTATIONS.

Spitzer was wearing a mask, a green gingham shirt, and bookish horn-rimmed glasses. The former governor is now a builder, having returned to his family’s real-estate business after self-destructing in politics. He had been talking to me intermittently since the middle of the summer, analyzing the pandemic as someone with a deep personal investment in the health of the city. “I don’t know when people are coming back to these buildings,” Spitzer said as we strolled north toward the site of a mixed-use project he is constructing in partnership with the Related Companies, the main developer of Hudson Yards. “At first, the optimists were saying, ‘This will be a three-week shutdown, and by Labor Day it will be back to normal.’ ” Now the emergency evacuation had settled into a state of semi-permanent dispersal.

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