Midmost of the black-soiled Iowa plain, watered only by a shallow and insignificant creek, the city of Nautilus bakes and rattles and glistens. For hundreds of miles the tall corn springs in a jungle of undeviating rows, and the stranger who sweatily trudges the corn-walled roads is lost and nervous with the sense of merciless growth.

Nautilus is to Zenith what Zenith is to Chicago.

With seventy thousand people, it is a smaller Zenith but no less brisk. There is one large hotel to compete with the dozen in Zenith, but that one is as busy and standardized and frenziedly modern as its owner can make it. The only authentic difference between Nautilus and Zenith is that in both cases all the streets look alike but in Nautilus they do not look alike for so many miles.

—Sinclair Lewis, Arrowsmith, chap. 19