Years ago, I'm told, about a thousand miles north of here, the sign "Dig We Must for a Better New York" was something of a joke.

The sign was Con Edison's way of apologizing for tearing up a street to lay some new utility cables -- usually, it seemed, at the height of rush hour. At first, the sign was laughed with, because it was meant to be. People wanted to make America's largest city a better place to live and work. In fact, people demanded those kind of unglamorous, long-term investments.

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