Faster than yesterday! Of course, yesterday was a 15 x 16, so that adds a bit of time.
I like the East-West symmetry here, and the seven examples of American cities whose names encompass the postal abbreviations of their states. Naturally, I'm partial to 46D: Original eastern terminus of the Erie Canal (ALBANY), as that's where I'm writing from. Still shout out to finding two 11-letter city names that fit the pattern in BLOOMINGTON and SANTAMONICA. I'm also impressed by the adjoining 10-letter answers of GRANDFORKS and TUSCALOOSA. It was fun to try to come up with the city names based on the trivia in the clues.
Part of the way Mr. Polin was able to achieve this was by completely segmenting each of the corners off from the rest of the grid. Somehow I didn't mind this as much today, because the corners were all well clued and fairly crossed.
In the fill, I liked the pairing of 42A: Destiny (KISMET) and 43A: Spiritual center, in yoga (CHAKRA). The two words come from Arabic and Sanskrit, respectively, representing two ancient and intellectual cultures.
1A: Containers at chocolate factories (VATS) - C. Or any factory producing liquids, perhaps? Why chocolate specifically? Maybe because it's yummy. Perhaps I should upgrade to C+.
Fave: WHIR (40D: Fan sound). I tried jeeR, roaR, and even considered switching to Wave before getting it was an entirely different kind of fan.
Least fave: VCHIP (1D: TV blocking device). Are these things still being used?