Exploring the border between Brooklyn and Queens one night, I discovered a strange transitional zone behind the large neon Pepsi Cola sign on the East River. For years, I had seen that sign from the Manhattan side as a kind of commercial icon. Now, I was suddenly on a construction site, with bulldozers and backhoes parked for the night. The earth was beautifully plowed, dark brown and scored with tracks, as if on a farm. I was startled into a vision of the city’s rural past, ensconced and hidden behind the great red sign.