Locations in Atlas Shrugged
- 1 Real places
- 2 Fictional places
Algeria: In section 152, we learn Francisco d'Anconia threw a party at an Algerian desert resort where he gave away an ermine coat to any woman who undressed in step with the melting of ice sculptures.
Argentina: Argentina is the home of Francisco d'Anconia and the ancestral home of his family. Sebastian d'Anconia fled to Argentina to escape the Spanish Inquisition. Argentina is mentioned in sections 132 and 152.
Arizona: Arizona is the home of the Phoenix-Durango railroad. Arizona is mentioned in sections 111, 146 and 171.
Buenos Aires: The home of the d'Anconia estate and the residence of Francisco's father.
California: Hank Rearden has business concerns on California. In section 121 Lillian Rearden asks Rearden to promise he won't be in California on the night of December 10. Towards the end of the novel, a civil war begins in California.
Chicago: Dagny Taggart passes through Chicago while returning from an inspection of the Rio Norte Line in section 112. In section 171 we learn Dagny flew to Chicago to take over Summit Casting which had gone bankrupt before delivering parts needed for the Rio Norte Line. Midas Mulligan's bank had been in Chicago. The Atlantic Southern Railroad headquarters is in Chicago.
Cleveland: Cleveland is the home of Patrick Henry University. Also, Dagny Taggart gets off her train at Cleveland while returning from an inspection of the Rio Norte Line in section 112. She phones Hank Rearden and placed the first order of Rearden Metal. Finally, McNamara's offices are located in Cleveland. Cleveland is mentioned in sections 111, 114, 133 and 152.
Colorado: Colorado is the home of Wyatt Oil and the state with the most vigorous economy in the beginning of Atlas Shrugged. It is served by Taggart Transcontinental's collapsing Rio Norte Line. It is also the location of Galt's Gulch. Colorado is mentioned in sections 111, 114, 145, 146, 147, 148, 161 and 171.
Connecticut: The home of Amalgamated Switch and Signal. Connecticut is mentioned in section 171.
Denver: The home of Barton and Jones. Mentioned in section 171.
El Paso, Texas: El Paso, Texas is the southern terminus of the Rio Norte Line. Francisco d'Anconia was in El Paso at the time Mrs. Gilbert Vail claimed he was with her in the Andes. El Paso is mentioned in sections 111 and 152.
Europe: In Atlas Shrugged, Europe has declined faster than the United States and has become an economic wasteland. For the most part, countries in Europe are mentioned only in the context of a relief ship being sent there, usually one that has been seized by Ragnar Danneskjöld. Europe is mentioned in section 161.
Hudson River: Dagny Taggart's childhood home was located in the hills overlooking The Hudson River. The home is also said to be five miles from Rockdale, though the actual Rockdale, NY is more like one hundred miles from the Hudson River. It is mentioned in sections 111, 152 and 175.
Illinois: The home of Summit Casting. Illinois is mentioned in section 171.
Lake Michigan: Ore is shipped across Lake Michigan. However the ships used to transport it are growing so old that the shipping lanes are dying. Paul Larkin cuts a deal with James Taggart to ship his ore by rail, which drives the Lake Michigan shippers out of existence, and makes Larkin dependent on Taggart.
Maine: Maine is mentioned in passing in section 161. Someone is complaining about the sense of forebodding she has whenever it is dark, as if the daylight will never return. Another woman says her cousin in Maine feels the same way. The conversation then turns to Ragnar Danneskjöld, who has been seen off the coast of Maine.
Mexico: Mexico, formally the People's State of Mexico, is a poor, corrupt third-world nation. It is the home of the San Sebastian Mines and of Taggart Transcontinental's San Sebastian Line. After millions of investment dollars are poured into these projects, they are nationalized by the Mexican government. Mexico is mentioned in sections 111, 131, 132, 142, 143, 151 and 152.
Middle West: Nathaniel Taggart is rumoured to have killed a state legislator from the Middle West. Supposedly the legislator had sold short shares of Taggart's railroad, and was using his power in the state government to drive the railroad into bankruptcy. This is mentioned in section 132.
Minnesota: Minnesota was the location of Hank Rearden's first job, working in the iron mines at age 14. He continues to hold business concerns there. In section 171 Rearden lies to Dagny Taggart about going to Minnesota so he doesn't have to fly with her to New York. The harvest of Minnesota is later sacrificed in favor of the new soybean crop. Minnesota is mentioned in sections 121 and 171.
New Hampshire: New Hampshire is the home of The State Science Institute, a government research institution and the only research facility left in the country. New Hampshire is mentioned in section 174.
New Jersey: New Jersey is the home of United Locomotive Works. New Jersey is mentioned in section 141.
New Mexico: New Mexico is a state where the Phoenix-Durango railroad has successfully obtained the freight business that formerly went to the Rio Norte Line. After the passage of the Anti-dog-eat-dog Rule the Phoenix-Durango is forced to abandon operations in New Mexico, as well as in Colorado. New Mexico is mentioned in sections 111 and 146.
New York: New York is the home of Taggart Transcontinental and the scene of much of the action in Atlas Shrugged. New York is treated as the cultural and intellectual center of the United States. It appears in sections 111, 113, 114, 141, 152, 161, 162 and 171.
Pennsylvania: Home of Rearden Steel. A newspaper ridiculed Hank Rearden for starting a steel company, claiming "The historical cycle of steelmaking in Pennsylvania is running down."
Rockdale: A town near the Taggart estate in upstate New York. Dagny Taggart had her first position working for Taggart Transcontinental at the Rockdale Station, when she was 16. The Taggart estate overlooks the Hudson River. Rockport, we are told, is five miles from the estate. The actual town of Rockport, New York is more like 100 miles from the Hudson River.
San Francisco: San Francisco is the western terminus of Taggart Transcontinental. In the final parts of the book, it is the scene of confused civil war between various local factions, and is no longer under control of the central government in Washington D.C. It is mentioned in section 111.
Tennessee: Chick Morrison resigns from the collapsing government. "He has a hide-out all stocked for himself in Tennessee", says Tinky Holloway, watching Morrison leave. This is mentioned on p. 1134 of the hardcover edition.
United States: The United States is the setting of Atlas Shrugged. While almost every other nation has become a socialist "People's State", the United States remains the last country with some semblance of a free economy. This is rapidly changing, and the book follows the United States as it gradually becomes a "People's State" itself. The United States is mentioned in section 132.
Valparaiso: In section 152 the harbor of Valparaiso is mentioned as a location for one of Francisco d'Anconia's parties. At this party, the guests wore bathing suits, and were showered with champagne throughout the night.
Washington: Washington is the seat of the government of the United States. Throughout Atlas Shrugged it is portrayed as a corrupt center of bureaucratic looters. Many directives that affect the plot are issued from Washington, but little to none of the book's action occurs there. Washington is mentioned in sections 121, 131, 132, 143 and 161.
The most expensive barroom in New York, built on the top of a skyscraper, while reproducing the feel of being in a cellar. It has uncomfortable tiny tables, awful drinks and miserable service. It is where the Looters make their deals, in an atmosphere where they feel at home. An interesting parody of places that are "chic" and "in" but nonetheless awful.
A night club in New York. When Francisco d'Anconia returns to New York in section 141, he explains he came because of a hat-check girl at the Cub Club and the liverwurst at Moe's Delicatessen on Third Avenue.
A secluded refuge in a valley of Colorado where the men of ability have retreated after relinquishing participation in American society. Nicknamed "Galt's Gulch" by its inhabitants, it is in fact the property of "Midas" Mulligan, one of the early strikers to follow John Galt's call. This call was to the great men of mind and action to abandon the increasingly slave-state inclinations of a decaying United States - to go on strike - thereby withdrawing the only thing supporting the parasites and looters.
Sarcastically nicknamed Midas in the press because everything he seemed to touch turned to gold, Mulligan adopted the nickname during his explosive investment career before dropping out of sight. He had purchased this land among his far-ranging speculative endeavors, and subsequently retreated to it upon his disappearance. Other strikers soon followed him there, including John Galt, renting or buying land for summer retreats as a respite from continuing their search for fellow strikers among the increasingly collapsing American society. Eventually, a society develops in Galt's Gulch as more people live there year-round as the outside world becomes virtually unsafe to visit.
We are introduced to Galt's Gulch in the final section of the Novel, in the first chapter, entitled Atlantis. The people live with each other in completely free society and embody everything which is the thesis of the Novel, the appropriate values for a society of Mankind: philosophical, moral, economic, legal, aesthetic, and sexual, among others too numerous to mention.
We find industrious, ambitious, happy people continuing their chosen fields of endeavor without the yokes of any taxation or regulation. Conversely, there is a reverence for private property; everything transacted is paid for with the re-invented currency of solid gold coin struck from the reserves of Midas Mulligan's bank which now resides in the valley. The townspeople receive services from the various heroes we have met throughout the Novel, who all now reside and produce in the valley. They purchase power inexpensively from Galt and his invention of the static electricity motor, maintain their anonymity from the outside world via Galt's invention of the air-wave reflection device (giving the view from above the camouflage of reflected images of other mountainsides nearby), and some attend Galt's lectures on Physics, where he explains his discoveries on new fundamental laws and applied mathematics. The people purchase medical treatment from the care of Dr. Hendricks, who uses his invention of a portable X-ray machine to initially diagnose Dagny Taggart upon her crash landing into the valley, attend concerts of new musical compositions of Richard Halley who has continued to compose in the Valley, acquire raw materials from the efforts of Francisco D'Anconia's excavations around the valley, attend philosophy lectures from the now-retired pirate Ragnar Danneskjöld, receive loans from Midas Mulligan, etc.
Rand's description of Galt's Gulch was inspired by a visit she and her husband Frank O'Connor took to Ouray, Colorado while researching Colorado for the novel.
A delicatessen in New York. When Francisco d'Anconia returns to New York in section 141, he explains he came because of a hat-check girl at the Cub Club and the liverwurst at Moe's Delicatessen on Third Avenue.
Patrick Henry University
A fictional university, considered "the most prestigious" of the universites in the world of Ayn Rand's book. It was attended by John Galt, Francisco d'Anconia, and Ragnar Danneskjöld, where they met and became friends. Hugh Akston and Robert Stadler taught there. After Akston's retirement, his position at the university is taken over by Dr. Simon Pritchett. It is located in Cleveland, Ohio.
Rio Norte Line
It is mentioned in sections 111, 114, 131 (alluded to), 132, 133, 141, 146, 147 and 148.
A station on the Taggart Transcontinental line, located five miles from the Taggart estate and overlooking the Hudson River. It was the site of Dagny Taggart's first job with the railroad, night operator, at age 16.
It appears in section 152.
A community built to house the workers of the San Sebastian Mines and their families. As it turns out, the houses, roads, and everything of practical value is built so poorly that the community can be expected to fall apart within a year or two. Only the church was built to last.
According to tradition, Saint Sebastian was a Christian who became a Roman prison guard and secretly used his position to bring aid and comfort to Christian prisoners condemned for heresy. When his actions were discovered, he was sentenced to death. Most artistic depictions of the saint show him tied to a stake and punctured with arrows. Though he was shot many times, he survived his "execution."
It is mentioned in section 152.
San Sebastian Line
The San Sebastian Line is nationalized by the Mexican government soon after completion.
When it is nationalized in section 142, it is referred to as the San Sebastian Railroad.
It is mentioned in sections 114, 131, 132, 133, 142, 143 and 152.
San Sebastian Mines
San Sebastian Mines is a copper mining project in Mexico founded by Francisco d'Anconia and named after his ancestor Sebastian d'Anconia. Francisco's reputation as a businessman is so great that investors flock to him, begging to invest money in the enterprise. Investors include James Taggart and Orren Boyle. Taggart goes so far as to build a new branch of Taggart Transcontinental, the San Sebastian Line, to serve the mines, sinking $30 million into the project. When the development of the mines appears complete, the Mexican government nationalizes them as well as the San Sebastian Line, only to discover there is no copper and there never was.
When Taggart tells Francisco he considers the Mines a rotten swindle (section 161), Francisco explains that Taggart should be pleased with the way he ran the mines. He says he put into practice those moral precepts that were accepted around the world. The world says it is evil to pursue a profit — he got no profit from the worthless mines. The world says the purpose of an enterprise is not to produce, but to give a livelihood to its employees — it produced nothing, but created jobs that would never have existed if one was only concerned with developing a real mine. The world says the owner is an exploiter and the workers do all the real work — he left the enterprise entirely in the hands of the workers and did not burden anyone with his presence. The world says need is more important than ability — he hired a mining specialist who needed a job very badly, but had no ability.
In short, the San Sebastian Mines were an illustration of what happens when this moral code is put into practice, and a warning of what will soon happen to the world as a whole.
The San Sebastian Mines appear in sections 111, 131, 132, 142, 151, 152 and 161.
Statue of Liberty
No scene in the book is physically set at the Statue of Liberty, but it is repeatedly used as a symbol by both of the contending sides to the conflict unfolding in the book. It appears on the gold coins minted by the "strikers" in Galt's Gulch, its appearing there constituting their claim to the legitimacy of their act of minting coinage (i.e., that they truly represent the ideal of American Liberty). It also appears on the "Gift Certificate", through which Hank Rearden and others are coerced to give away their rights to things they created. Rearden considers the printing of the outline of the Statue of Liberty on such a document as proving "the looters' contempt for the intelligence of their victims".
A luxurious hotel in New York, it is considered "the best hotel left in the world", and is the venue of many key scenes in the book. It is where Francisco d'Anconia and Hank Rearden (each one separately) stay in when they are in town. It was also the scene of Dagny Taggart's debut ball when she was seventeen, and later of her last night with Francisco, when he faced the pain (which he could not fully share with her) of joining Galt's strike. Later, Francisco's flat is the scene of intense confrontations between him and Rearden, which in the end lead to their being friends - and after Francisco "disappears", his hotel flat is taken over by the government representatives, who summon Rearden to it to expound to him their new scheme. Rearden's shock at seeing them in Francisco's flat - "like cannibals who think they could become a hero's equals by eating his flesh" - greatly contributes to Rearden's own decision to join Galt's "strike' and disappear. In the final part of the book, John Galt is kept there in "luxurious imprisonment".
It may be based on the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City.
The Wayne-Falkland Hotel is mentioned in sections 141, 151 and 152.
Wyatt Oil Fields
The Wyatt Oil Fields are in Colorado. They are a bunch of old, abandoned oil wells that were revived by a new technique invented by Ellis Wyatt. This has almost single-handedly revitalized the economy of Colorado.
The Wyatt Oil Fields appear in sections 111 and 161.